Mr Bull - Bacup Shoe

Coming from a poor background he would get his clogs mended with harry Bacon and at aged 14 years (1946) he started work at Bacup Shoe and was earning £2-6s-6d per week, a good wage that the family needed.

As with most juniors he would be placed and ‘boy’ jobs in the clicking room, the best room where workers would wear collar and tie to mark their status. His first jobs were things like size marker upper with a colour code (i.e. red for size 4’s) this code continue to this day on lasts. He also edge stained the uppers on ‘Admiralty shoe’ which they made for the Navy.

The company had a board of directors, Earnest Goodwin managing director, Mr Fred Chanter traveller and Mr Parkinson. Later Fred Chanters sons, Derrick and Peter would manage the firm with their children learning the industry later. The factory manager was Grimshaw Taylor a ‘fierce’ looking man.

For 2 years (18yrs – 20yrs) he did national services and his job was there for him when he came home.

He was moved into the pattern room and went to night school to learn about pattern cutting and design but wanted to return to the clicking room as it was better money. The clicking room and press room was notorious for cutting fingers and Fred Taylor was always cutting his fingers. There were 30 board clickers at Bacup shoe using card patterns with brass edging. Later new machinery like the ‘travelling head’ press would reduce the number of people required to put uppers and linings.

As early as 1946 ‘calf plastics’ (PU / PVC) were being used as well as leather but by 1980’s this had increased to 10% leather and 90% plastic.

Being promoted onto staff and in-charge of the store room he would order materials from Italy via agents like Bevington’s and Watson Fuller, order heels from Looms of Leicester and trims from Phipps Fare of Northampton.

Looking back to happier days when people would ‘have the crack’ by putting your job sheet between materials so you would cut it to shreds and need to cello tape it together to get paid. Christmas would start a week before with mistletoe hanging and each room would have a footin. Characters like Albert Guy and Ben Roberts would put glue on the floor and as you had to stand in one position for long period would glue your shoes to the floor! The heel attacher Harold Flood  would limp as he stood on one leg all day operating the machine with the other leg.

On a Friday night would be works dance at the old Co-op and finish around 1:00pm with work next morning. Johnny Whittaker would organise trips to Blackpool for a show and the staff would have a dinner dance.

The hours were 8:00am – 5:00pm + Saturday morning 8:00 – 11:30 about 45 hours per week. If you were late you would be locked out until dinner time and lose half days pay. There was no clocking in system at Bacup Shoe.

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