Harry Rutherford's
Festival of Britain Mural

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Tommy Sowter's loaf - A Wartime tale of Newton

This was a post from 2013, I'm using it again today as it came up in conversation today when I was asked if I'd ever found out anymore about it. I hadn't which is a shame but by showing it again today it might jog a memory of two.. hope so!

We just had to post this great local story from Newton in the war years, sent in by Jacqueline and Colin Ridgway !!

"Reading Roger V Chapman’s interesting memories of his boyhood in Hyde during WW2 reminded us of an aftermath of a Bombing Raid in Newton. The large ICI works in Talbot Road which produced leather-cloth known as “Rexine” in peacetime, was switched to Munitions during WW2. As a result it became a target for the Luftwaffe, and Bombers regularly flew over Hyde on raids. They would locate the Reservoir near the Werneth Pub in Gee Cross then aim for the Reservoir at Godley which put them on the Flight Path to the ICI Works.
The factory walls were heavily camouflaged as was the roof and must have been difficult for the German aircrews to spot from the air, although several “drops” of incendiary bombs had fallen on the works and hit houses opposite the Clarence Hotel on Talbot Road.

On one such raid a German bomber was hit by a Hurricane plane, possibly from RAF Calveley, and flew in over Newton very low and on fire. It came down in the fields behind St. Mary’s Church and the crew luckily escaped. My Husband Colin Ridgway and his friends (all very young), were playing football nearby and saw the Germans run into the wood near Saville’s Farm.

The boys ran home to get their toy guns in order to capture the airmen and on the way to the wood they were met by a friend Tommy Sowter who had been queuing at the bread shop for his Mother’s ration and had a loaf of bread in a bag, he joined them and they went into the wood only to be confronted by the Germans! Toy guns not being a Sitha, bravery soon evaporated and the boys fled, but not before a German had pinched Tommy’s loaf off him.

Er' Sithe, wurs ma bleedin loaf

In the flight the boys ran into Constable Jackson and the Newton “Dads Army” who were on their way to search for the downed Airmen. The boys told them where the Germans were and ran back home and safety. The airmen were soon apprehended and marched off down Talbot Road. A large crowd of Mothers had assembled near the Post office and as the column passed by much hissing and catcalling took place; by the women against the Germans as their husbands were away fighting in the war. However, one mother was more concerned in giving her errant son Tommy a “good hiding” for letting the Germans steal their loaf. Nothing for Tea tonight!!

Many Thanks for sending this in to us, Jacqueline and Colin !
It's always great hearing such stories. :)

Friday, 9 October 2015

George and Dragon 1953

Thanks once again to 'Tony Downend' for these pictures his father took many moons ago. 

They are from 1953, taken in the George and Dragon, Bennet Street, Newton. They show the Landlord, Albert Cropper, and his Landlady Alison, with a few of the then regulars and the 'Card School'. Fantastic pictures capturing the era perfectly.

I imagine the brass hand pumps would shine like gold. 

Beautiful bit of woodwork on the bar surround. 

Notice the meat pies on the bar covered with a tea towel..

Shiny classes polished to perfection

Would love to put names to these chaps.

Few prices from 1953 & 2015

British sirloin beef (without the bone) £0. 2s.11d = £3.75

British beef brisket (with bone) £0.1s. 6d = £1.93 

  • Mutton leg (British) £0. 3s 1d = £3.32
  • Pork, leg (foot off), Home killed £0. 3s 1d = £3.32
  • Ham, cooked and sliced £0. 6s 2d = £8.25
  • Bacon, streaky £0. 2s 6d = £ 2.79
  • Fresh cod cuts £0 1s 6d = £ 1.71
  • White loaf unwrapped £0. 0s  3d = £0.32
  • Loose tea (125g) £0. 0. 7d = £0.75
    Sugar granulated £0. 0. 7d = £0.75
  • Pint of milk £0. 0. 3d = £0.32
  • Butter £0. 0. 9d = £0.96
  • Cheddar cheese £0. 2s. 0d = £2.57
  • Margarine £0. 0. 8d = £0.86
  • Lard £0. 0s 9d = £0.96
  • Eggs (size 4) £0. 2s 4d = £3.00
  • Potatoes £0. 0s 2d = £0.21
  • Green cabbage £0. 0s 3d = £0.32
  • Onions £0. 0s 4d = £0.43
  • Eating apples £0. 0s 11d = £1.18
  • Oranges £0. 0s 9d = £0.96
  • Cocoa £0. 3s 9d = £4.18
  • Pint of beer £0. 0. 9d = £0.96
  • Coal (50kg) £0. 2s 3d = £2.89
  • Electricity (per KWH) £0. 0. 1d = £0.11
  • Gas per therm £0. 0s 8d = £0.86
  • Soap (per lb) £0 0s 10p = £1.07
  • 20 cigarettes £0 0s 18d = £1.93

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Fletcher Millers revisited

Pictures and information provided courtesy of   Brian Oldham  who worked at Fletcher Millers from 1956 as an apprentice mechanic and worked through to the 80s during which time it changed to Burmah, then Burmah Castrol and finally BP, Brian progressed to garage manager.

Fletcher Miller was started in 1935 by the Miller family. The story goes whether true or not, is that one of the brothers owned a chemists shop in Dukinfield, his brother is said to have walked in the shop one day with a bottle of oil, and one of water. He said "If we can make these mix we could make a fortune". It was eventually found that whale oil and water would do this and the mixture was the ideal medium for cutting oil with lathes and machines that needed to be lubricated and cooled, the oil lubricated and the water cooled.
The firm originally was located in Alma Mills, Dukinfield but moved to Hyde after a disastrous fire there. It then moved to the old Tinker Shenton boiler works on Furnace Street and they continued production there. They also had depots at Blantyre Scotland, West Bromwich in the Midlands, Bristol, Wandsworth and Rotherhithe.

GUY OTTER Engine is a Gardner 4lk

AEC MAMMOTH MAJOR  MK111 Engine is AEC 11.3 litre

 TRUSTY DIESEL  Engine is Gardner 6lw


This is the garage next to Rosemount church where Fletchers were based. Before Fletcher Millers owned it, this was owned by Joseph Hoyle transport and the garage was named as such.


Milk float used by Fletcher Millers during the 70s for transporting drums between departments

Thank you Brian,

While I was sorting this post out an email came in quite by chance, which too was about Fletcher Millers. Allen Miller had read another article on the blog and got in touch. Perfect timing indeed, over to Allen  

I am Allen Miller and related to the family. 
John Miller was my Father’s uncle and he went to work for Fletcher Millers after WW2 ended. This would be at or about 1949, when my father and mother (Joan Miller ne Shaw) moved to Bush Hill North London. There my dad took over the then late Sidney Miller’s round in North London. Sam Miller (another brother) had the distribution round for cutting oils in the black country around Birmingham. I new Sam well he was my uncle and Beryl his daughter. I met John Miller (founder) once but I was only very young then.

When I was a young man I went to the Wandsworth production and distribution centre with my father and met some of the chemists there. I also met Mr. Robertshaw who was the production manager. I do not remember going to Alma Mills (Hyde) production but I know there were two chemists there who did most of the design work called Messrs. Bickerton and Birchenoff.     

My dad got the Ford’s order for Dagenham and the Ford tractor plant at Langley and became a director of Castrol Industrial Oils division very soon afterwards. 

My father’s cousin was ‘Bobby’ Miller he took over from John Miller as Managing Director when ‘Uncle John’ died. Bobby moved off to Malta with his wife Christine in the early 80’s and then moved back to the UK after about 3 years there. He then went to live on the northern part of the Isle of Man in Jurby at a house called Ballaterson Manor. I went there once to visit him. Christine was no longer around then and I never met her.

My uncle on my mother’s side Eric Shaw went to work for FM’s and later Burmah when they took over things. Burmah were in a bad state then. They had bought many Tankers for the oil run from Bahrain at the time when there was an oil glut and let them rot in the Norwegian Fjords. My dad was 55 then and he was made redundant when Burmah ran short of cash. Eric was kept on more or less to retirement age. He was the one responsible for making the frame for the picture below.

In the pictures you will see some hand-outs that Castrol distributed. There were several of these dusters made and this is just one of them. Another one were the matching salt and pepper cruets the bottoms of which you can see in the next photo as being from Castrol. We also had a cigarette lighter with a model of Castrol house inside it, but the plastic degraded and I belive it was scrapped. My father also had a long-service plate similar to the one on your website. I am not sure where it is – maybe in our attic somewhere.

Dad tried to get me into the oil business but I went my own way. I am an electronics engineer and now at 65 still going strong.
Best Regards,
Allen Miller    

From 'Grace's Guide To British Industry'

Of Alma Mills, Dukinfield, Manchester. Telephone: Ashton-under-Lyne 1844/5. Telegraphic Address: "Emulsion, Dukinfield".(1937) of Hyde, near Manchester
1921 Patent - Improvements in or relating to back plates for gas and like stoves or cookers.
1937 Oil chemists to the engineering trades. "Clearedge" Translucent Soluble Coolant. "Cooledge" Water Soluble Cutting Oil. "Lardedge" Mineralised Lard Oil. "Rodol" Rust Preventatives. "Swift" Sulphurised Straight Cutting Oil. [1]
1937 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Metal Cutting Oils , such as Roebuck Oil, (neat and water soluble), Drawing Compounds, rust Preventives (liquid and solid), Easing Oil, Degreasing Compounds, Belt Dressing, Case-hardening Media, Oils for Engineering, Marine and Industrial purposes. (Stand No. D.309) [2]

1958 C. C. Wakefield and Co acquired Fletcher Miller, which was also involved in industrial oils[3].
A few of their adverts

You can still by the toy tanker