Monday, 10 March 2008

#016 Mrs Boams House and London Track

My dad had my frame chrome plated later on that year and it looked great. A few weeks after the chroming, we went on training run to Winster, on going up Via Gellia it was decided that the first to Mrs Boam’s house at Winster would have his prize of a free dinner. At that time I was having trouble getting shoes for my daft deformed feet, I had managed to buy a pair of running shoes (Gerry Beechinor of Derby Ivanhoe giving me the idea). I filed off the spikes and fitted leather blocks and while they were new everything was OK, but as they got looser with wear, I had to bandage my feet because my right anklebone hit the crank. Anyway I got to Mrs Boams house first, this is situated at the top of a narrow steep hill, I applied the front brake, kicking back on my pedals at the same time (yes I had got a locking ring fitted). My feet pulled out of my shoes and my front brake cable snapped. I was then going down the hill knowing there was a left-hand bend and after that the main road with a big plate glass shop window on the opposite side. I reached the apex of the left-hand bend and noticed the door of a cottage on the right was slightly ajar. I hit the door and, as it was slightly rotten, the whole door collapsed, crashing into the dining table, all laid for Sunday dinner - I landed in the middle. The people jumped up screaming “take him out of here” I was taken into next door, leaving my crashed bike in the middle of the debris. By this time the other lads arrived on the scene saw all the blood and thought I was dead, I had only knocked the thumb nail of my right hand and the middle finger of my left hand, otherwise I was OK. I can remember screaming before I hit the door, the next thing I was laughing my head off with relief for not doing any damage. We all had dinner at Mrs Boams I remember her asking me how the lad was who gone through the door, she had not realised it was me because of my lack of injuries, wasn’t I lucky! To get to Darley Dale station for my journey home I carried what was left of my bike on my shoulder and sat on Norman’s crossbar. I had to change at Derby station and felt the biggest fool in shorts with my thin calves. Dad quickly repaired my bike, it had to have new seat stays and a new cam tube to the front forks and two new wheel rims, the last two black 27” we had in stock.

Early in 1942, Whitsuntide to be exact, Norman Casswell and I sent our entries to Paddington Recreation Ground Track entering for the two scratch races and the 5-mile events. Quite a few of the lads wished to come along so we booked accommodation at Highgate YHA. The event was to be held on Whit Sunday. We met outside our Shop on Saturday morning leaving there about 9 am. We had dinner at Woburn Sands eventually arriving at Highgate just after 5 p.m. We had ridden all that way with our sprint wheels on sprint carriers still with one front brake and saddlebags full. We checked in with a warden, booked a meal, got changed and came down for the meal, it was egg & chips. Baz asked for sauce and the Warden asked him if he required tomato or brown. Baz said he would like tomato, he thought the warden would get this but the warden gave him instructions, Baz with difficulty found the pantry to fetch the sauce himself (the house was an old Victorian mansion). Baz sat down next to the warden who dressed immaculate wearing a lovely white shirt. Baz shook the bottle, the top was loose the sauce came out covering the warden! We were up early the next morning did our duties then worked on the bikes getting them in track trim we rode right through London with no brakes. We won our heats in the quarter and the half-mile events but didn’t survive the semi-finals. We did however manage to win the 5-mile event 1st and second. What a disappointment we had when the Judges disqualified us because the event was only open to London based clubs. We had ridden well when you think we were up against such as Lou Pond, Ernie Mills and Sid Cousins, with the exception of Norman, it was our first race on a hard track. Norman had ridden at Derby Municipal Track, this track was like a bowl - flat at the bottom but steep banking higher up, our club joined the their track league in 1944.

On Sunday night we toured London via the underground, we were amazed to see people living on the platforms of the underground stations to get away from the bombing. There was no bombing that night; it certainly made us realise how lucky we were to live in Long Eaton. The WRVS were selling large Lyons fruit pies down there; we had about six or seven each, we hadn’t seen these since pre-war. We were up early the next day, got the bikes ready for the road, fitting mudguards etc. We departed the hostel at 10 a.m. calling again at Woburn Sands for dinner, (obviously a good place) It rained all the way home, but with a gale behind us we donned our capes (as a sail) we were home in six hours. I remember Norman Casswell (always with electric wit) saying as we breasted Netherfield Lane railway bridge (road now closed for A50) “Ah Long Eaton, it is a long time since we’ve eaten”.

Early in 1941 I was transferred to Burton Foundry Co, doing the same job but Allied Ironfounders had taken over and all our manufacture was transferred to Burton, actually only two of us were taken there the other man being the fitting shop Forman. Whilst still at Sandiacre we had with us a pattern maker for all the different castings, what marvellous men these were making everything in wood so a pattern could put in the black sand for iron moulding. We had a cupolo for melting the iron ore which came from Stanton just up the road, Early in 1939 the firm had orders for bedplates for Lathes manufactured by Myford Engineering Co at Beeston. The first rough castings looked OK but when Myford tried to machine big blowholes appeared - what a disaster. We had to employ a metallurgist, the cupola men had thrown coke pig iron and scrap just as they had for rainwater pipe, guttering and fire grates. The metallurgist soon put this right. My cousin Maurice, who was metallurgist at Vickers in Attercliffe Sheffield, thought it was a huge joke.

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