Bob Kemsley, blacksmith at Bagnall’s, Stafford

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Date:August 1952

Description:Pictured is Bob Kemsley who was photographed by the Staffordshire Newsletter for an article published on Saturday 23 August 1952, on retaining the skills of industrial veterans, many of whom were over 65 years and still at work in Stafford.

There was a national policy to extend the length of service of workers advocated by the Government. Employers all over the country were asked by the Minister of Labour (Sir Walter Monckton) as far as possible to retain as many of their retiring-age employees as were willing to continue in employment, and he urged workers in their sixties to cooperate as fully as they were able. Stafford’s response to this appeal was very encouraging and the policy was not new for many Stafford firms. Mr E R Arnold, Manager of the Stafford Employment Exchange said that most Stafford firms were sympathetic towards the continued employment of their workers after they had reached retirement age.

Bob Kemsley, aged 69, had worked for Messrs. W G Bagnall’s Castle Engine Works in Stafford for 55 years, in the picture he is seen supervising the pounding by a two-ton hammer of a steel bar, which he would help shape into a boiler frame. Mr Kemsley worked for the firm as a Blacksmith following in the foot-steps of his father, who was in the Smithy for 46 years. When he started there most of the work was on construction of small colliery engines, until the firm had a big order for 35 locomotives for the Egyptian Delta Railways. Later the work gradually turned to construction of Diesel locos.

Also at Bagnall’s was 76 year old Harry Marshall who operated a Slotter machine for about 45 years and at 75 years had no thoughts of retiring. Another employee was George Banks a 65 year old Angle-Smith who had 52 years in the same shop. When he started work at age 13, he was working 50 hours a week for 4s. (Four shillings) Later at the time of this Staffordshire Newsletter piece he was working a 44 hour week and doing two evenings a week on overtime. Nearly one in twenty of Bagnall’s employees were men over 65 years of age.

An example of a long serving employee at Dorman’s was the “Grand Old Man” of Dorman’s, who was the oldest of all Stafford’s Industrial Veterans. Bill Cotterill who would be 82 in October (1952) was enjoying his 51st year in the firm’s employment. Bill was asked if he was considering retiring in the near future and he replied, “Nay, nay. Not until my feet wunna take me any longer”. Bill was a Blacksmith by trade. He began as an apprentice aged 16 at the locomotive works of Bagnall’s in Stafford, he went to work for a firm of pump-makers in Wolverhampton for 12 years and returned to Stafford to join Dorman’s in Foregate Street and then to its new premises on Tixall Road.

Lotus Veteran Joe Hudson, a Shoe Finisher, started work with Lotus Limited, which at the time was known as Bostock’s, in Foregate Street when he was 13 years old on 3s. 6d. (Three shillings and Six pence) a week. Mr Hudson aged 71 had 57 years’ service with the firm. He was asked about retirement and he replied “I’m not 72 until November (1952) and I’m in good health and I’ll be working a while yet”.

Universal Grinding Wheel Veterans, 70 year old Albert Kington, a Londoner by birth started to learn his trade as a Grinding Wheel-Maker in 1900 and moved to Stafford in 1905. Also at the Universal was George Howes, who was still working at 76, he had worked for the Universal for 27 years. Another long serving employee was Ted Byrnes aged 74 who was in his 30th year with Universal.

Reproduced by kind permission of the Staffordshire Newsletter who retain copyright.

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Creators: Staffordshire Newsletter - Creator

Donor ref:B7-NN-929 (201/36030)

Source: Staffordshire County Record Office

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