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Article submitted by Tony Palmer 2006

Working at Whitney & Westley Ltd

I was employed at the above shoe factory from mid 1955 to December 1956. At this time I was employed as a clicker, cutting leather shoe linings by hand. These were cut with a clicking knife which was a very unusual shape with a blade ground from a blue-coloured hacksaw blade. I took rather a long time to learn how to grind the blade shape required and put a sharp edge on it on an oil stone. The clicking board was made of wood and you cut on the end grain of the wood. The wood was held together with an iron band. The board was scraped once a week with a small piece of metal to remove old sap wood caused by the cutting and linseed oil applied. The oil was left to soak in over the weekend. When the knife blade broke or if the blade slipped over the edge of the pattern you were cutting round, a nasty cut was made in your fingers, but you bandaged it up and carried on working. When I was cutting these linings on piece-work I earned £10 per week. This included working Saturday mornings.

The foreman in the clicking room was Charlie Pruden, later followed by Harry Miller. The under-foreman was Alec Bunyan. The other workers in the room were: Walter Tailby, Colin Wood, Ron Holmes, Gavin Whitlock, Raymond Birnie, David Villette, Tony Laing, Ted Bailey, Harry Johnson, Peter Campen, Wally Wright, Jimmy Coles, Harry Blundell, Harry Jarvis, Lott Vorley, ? Parker, ? Coles, Alan Eady, John Waterfield and George Sherwood.

In the pattern room were George Bennett, Harry Tailby and George’s son David. The managing director of the factory was Bert Dunmore.

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