The Work Study Office
My first day at Belwoven I worked at my boss’s desk. We had one calculator between us, a monster sized Canon L121 – it took up a quarter of the desk.
The first order of the day was learning the job – this was the daily calculation of production records for all three shifts. Once I got the hang of that my boss would be able to move onto other things, in particular the carrying out of work study of the various departments in order to set targets for repetitive work. Within three days I was working like a pro. I hammered out the numbers as quick as I could.
A couple of problems quickly became apparent:
1) one desk wasn’t big enough for two people – I worked one corner – a sort of quarter of a hot desk.
2) my boss smoked like a chimney and it was often the case my eyes would be streaming after half an our in the office
No. 1 was solved in not much more than a week – a second desk arrived. The boss – Harry Braithwaite – would face the door. My desk would square up against the side of his making a kind of T in the office. Belwoven offices were based in a converted block of terraced houses at the bottom of Newmarket Street, Colne. As far as no. 2 went, there were no rules then about smoking in offices. I soon worked out how to plan urgent business on the shop floor to take account of a smoking binge.
Winter was cold however – I started work 29/12/1975 – anxious to be in work. In the depth of winter, a cold transmitted through my feet to my ankles and knees, making them ache. It wasn’t until years later I learned that the underside of the office wasn’t insulated. Downstairs (we were on the upper floor) was basically a draughty, disused stable.
Our office ended up with two desks, three filing cabinets and three to four chairs, depending on who else needed them.
It was named the Work Study and Training Department. We also interviewed new starters – turnover was constant in winding,. weaving, inspection, cut + fold and despatch.
Winding was 2 shifts (double days)
Weaving was 3 shift (double days + permanent nights)
Inspection was 1 shift with o/t available depending on customer priority
Cut & Fold flip-flopped between days + an evening shift and double days
Double days was considered 6 am to 2 pm and 2 pm tp 10 pm, alternate weeks. Permanent nights was a lifestyle choice. I rarely saw the night shift manager or weaving staff but obviously over my thirteen year stay I got to know many of them very well. Peter O’ Connor production director, Brian Buckle assistant manager, Frank Williams chief mechanic Jeff Brown, Ray Brown and Tom Hudson – shift foremen. There were plenty more. And my boss? He was the agent and tool of the Managing Director: J M Haggerty. His first task, was to sort out Cut & Fold, as soon as my feet were under the table.