Monday, 10 March 2008

#001 In the beginning...

1922 dawned as the birth of the British Broadcasting Corporation, its original name or Call sign being known as 2LO. On July 9th of the same year at Mount Pleasant, Castle Donington I was born. My father, Ernest Buttler had recently been demobbed from the Royal Garrison Artillery after serving in Northern France around Arras and Bapuame area. He had been an Artificer on Howitzers. 38 years later I would visit these battlefields on my way to Rome for the 1960 Olympic Games.

My mother Kathleen had been working at the Royal Ordinance Depot at Chilwell where she narrowly escaped an explosion which happened there in 1917. My father worked with his father at 35, Main St., Long Eaton ‑ making at that time pedal cycles named the “Eaton Cycle”. This cycle was made with Reynolds Tubing with Brampton fittings, BSA chainwheels of 64 teeth, fitted with Eadie Coaster rear back pedal brake hub and 2 speed gears, some others were fitted with K type Sturmey Archer 3 speed gears. The shop also sold parts and accessories.

The post-Great War years saw the family business prospering. Only a few hundred yards from the shop, and with a sizeable work force, was the great wagon works of S. J. Clay & Sons. The lace trade in Long Eaton was also expanding and with the London & Midland railways Toton Sidings not far away, the business appeared to have bright future.

However to get back to Castle Donington, I was born with clubfeet and at six weeks old was taken to Derby Royal Infirmary where the necessary surgery was carried out. Unfortunately this didn't turn out to be successful as will appear later. My dad was able to rent a house at Long Eaton ‑ 72 Tamworth Road and this obviously enabled him to discontinue his 6 mile journey by bike to and from Castle Donington. 1924 was a momentous year for my hard working parents, May of that year saw the arrival of my brother Ernest, and catastrophe happened when my dad was sacked by his father - the dispute I believe over bringing motorcycles in to the business, my father had a motor cycle at this time. Anyway nothing daunted dad borrowed £20 from my mum's Aunt Lucy, changed the front room of 72, Tamworth Road in to a shop and built a shed at the rear for repairs. He was good with wireless and he built quite a few, the cabinets being built by a master carpenter who lived across the road. Until Cosser and Echo etc, commenced manufacture they had quite a good business going; the wireless mostly made after the shop was closed. My dad was also good at photography and had a plate type camera ‑ unfortunately none of the results have survived.

12 months later the shop had become established and in November came the arrival of my brother Alan. With 3 boys and a shop to look after it must have been a relief to my mum when I started school in the Autumn of 1926. As I was still walking badly, my dad made me a three-wheeler bike with 24” wheels. Travel to school was no problem now of course, and after school when playing in Myrtle Avenue, then a Breedon stone road, I took at least four more kids on the bike and on one such escapade the back wheels collapsed.

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