Wonderful place to work

Friendship, outings and comradeship, all memories of working at Ransomes Sims and Jefferies, the Ipswich engineering company, where generations of the same family worked for decades. The company has been featured in Kindred Spirits in recent weeks. This week readers recall their early wage packets and little extras for delivering sawdust to a local pub for the floor of the bar.

Richard Poulson of Arundel Way, Ipswich, said “I started work as an office boy in “T” department drawing office in August 1937 at the wage of five shillings and nine pence a week. Rolf Whittle was head with about ten draughtsman and two girls as tracers. My father got me the job. He was the last driver of the steam engine featured in the photograph from Ipswich Carnival in 1962 featured in a recent Kindred Spirits. Parkside, as it was known, was a wonderful place to work, it was so full of characters and all through my working life of 42 years you could always rely on an ex-Parkside person wherever they were placed in the company after the section was closed.”

“I was apprenticed as a fitter and finished the last 25 years in the experimental department where we made the first machine before they went into production, it was the most enjoyable experience and my memories are varied and great. I have a photograph of some of the old Parkside workers on a bus outing from around 1946, which I think started from the Marquis of Cornwallis public house in Old Foundry Road, Ipswich. The landlord also worked at Ransomes”.

Tom Scrivener of Heron Road, Ipswich, tells us of his time at Ransomes. “I started work there at the age of fourteen in 1942. I was the main lodge boy for a year in Duke Street. At that time the lodge keeper was Alf Abbott, a proper “Sergeant Major” type in his uniform and peak cap. He was always good to me.

I had to go all over the firm. One of my regular jobs on a Monday morning was to take a sack barrow up to the saw mill over the road to ‘Parkside’, which was just the other side of Duke Street. I had to pick up a large sack of sawdust and take it along to the Nightingale Pub for the floor in the bar. The landlord always gave me half-a-crown and bottle of ‘pop’. To me that was a lot of money, as my wage at the time was only six shillings and six pence.”

“Ransomes were making big guns at that time in the E-department and also at Toller Road, the old plough works. There was a big old army tank with two arms on the front with heavy chains on a spindle. The chains were designed to spin round in front of the tank to explode land mines, which had been laid on beaches. When my year was up on the lodge I went into the metal pattern shop until I joined the RAF.”

- All of the memories received so far have been from men who worked for Ransomes. Were you one of the female staff who worked among the thousands of men? Write to Kindred Spirits at the Evening Star or e-mail info@kindred-spirit.co.uk