Roy Langford - Article No.28 (06/01/2014)

After feeling like a 'King' over the weekend with my brilliant sprint treble at the Oxford Co-operative Sports Day Meeting, it was not time to cast aside my imaginary crown, and step down into the real world as I went into work at Ewarts Ltd, Dudley on that following Monday morning and back to my insignificant job on the hand bending pipe section. 'Yes' I was still entrenched on that stop gap job, even though four months had now passed by since Ewarts Works Manager Mr George Woodall had asked me to come off the Brazing Section and spend a few weeks on that job, and of course by now I was quite proficient at this task, but then again it wasn't rocket science, but saying that like any job you couldn't be to complacent because one wrong bend out of sequence on many complicated bending jigs we used would render the pipe scrap, thus having to incur the wrath of our charge hand Jack Hill, but luckily for me my freedom from this monotonous job was mercifully close at hand.

Because on that same Monday afternoon on the 3rd July 1961, after leaving work I bought the 'Express & Star' on my journey home and on the back page of this newspaper in the sporting column was my long awaited small bit of sporting fame from Saturday's athletic meeting, my deeds had hit the headlines with, 'Great Treble for Tipton Athlete at Oxford', wow to say I was chuffed is an understatement of my feelings which had some sort of knock on effect when I went to work next day because early on that Tuesday morning 4th July 1961 I was asked by one of the office ladies Vera Woodall to report to the tool room office as soon as possible, sitting in the office with a beaming smile on their faces the Works Manager George Woodhall and tool room superintendent Mr Wally Barrington, before them spread on the table, the back page of last night's 'Express & Star' newspaper and encircled on that page was my sporting headlines. I was greeted with a warm handshake and a congratulation, well don on my performance at Oxford on Saturday, then came the shock news why they had summoned me to the office, because with nodding approval from Mr Woodhall I was asked by Mr Barrington if I would like to work in the tool room, in the duel role of Tool room Metal Hardener and Steel Storeman, I was gob-smacked by this proposal and said 'I would welcome the change, but I haven't got the foggiest idea about metal hardening', at which Mr Barrington explained to me that it wouldn't be a problem, because the present tool room hardener Bernard Tandy would still be staying on in the tool room, as a centre lathe turner so in the foreseeable future would be on hand to show me the basic rudiments of the job and also be on call if I'm faced with any unexpected problems.

How could I but not accept this timely job offer, but there was one small snag, if you could call it that, it would mean a drop in ages because I would be on a set hourly working rate instead of piece work, but for me that was really a blessing in disguise because I hated the hustle and bustle of piece work jobs.

Mr Barrington offered me a starting wage of £10.10 shillings (the top grade worker in the tool room was on about £15.15 shillings at this time) which I believe at the time was a 40 hour working week (Monday to Friday) with the offer of a pay rise after one month, depending on how I settled into my new job, he also stated I could work some overtime to boost my wages by working weekends, with the officer also if I need to leave work early on a Saturday to compete in any athletic meeting. I could go into work early at 7 am and leave at 11 am thus giving me ample time to get to any athletic venue I was entered at, I suppose I was very fortunate to have a staunch ally in Mr Barrington who was a keen athletic fan. It was with a glad heart, that I was able to leave the tool room office and tell my chargehand Jack Hill and my other workmates down the pipe department, that I would be starting my new job in the tool room next day on the 5th July 1961 by reporting for duty to my new foreman Arthur More at 8 am tomorrow morning.

I will leave my story here for the time being, which in some ways sums up a great period in time when being good at sport had its little perks, because I've often wondered how much those newspaper headlines about my great sprint treble at Oxford had to do with getting my job in the tool room, which gave me a more secure future for the time being anyway and a more relaxed peace of mind.

In my next story (god willing) I'll give you an update about starting work in the toolroom at Ewarts Ltd, Burnt Tree Works, Dudley, and also an account of the last meeting of the season of the Stourbridge and Wordsley District Track League Championships at Aldersley Stadium on Wednesday 12th July 1961.

Yours in sport

Roy Langford, Tividale