Sunday, May 15, 2016

Sepia Saturday 330 : Albert : Printed, Packaged And Delivered.



When I think of my father, Albert, working, I think of him working at the Halifax factory of the toffee manufacturers, John Mackintosh & Sons. I was only two years old when he started working for them, and he continued in the same job until he retired, twenty-six years later. And therefore my chances of coming up with a family photograph to match a Sepia Saturday theme that features someone clearly working in the printing industry, are, at best, remote.

And then I remembered that, before moving from Bradford to Halifax in order to take up his job with Mackintosh's, he worked for a Bradford company called Field & Sons, and they specialised in printing and packaging for the food and retail industry. And so started a journey in search of my father - or at least a printed and packaged version of my father.

I am not entirely sure when my father started working for Fields, but it must have been before the outbreak of World War II, because he was in a reserved occupation and for the duration of the war much of the production at Field & Sons had been changed over to the manufacture of gun parts, shell and bomb parts, and components for radar. The nature of this work might have contributed to the fact that I was unable to find any work-based photographs from this period, other than the one at the head of this post which shows Albert - seated on the bench at the right - and a group of his workmates at what appears to be the company bowling green.

A little more on-line research brought to light a fascinating history of the firm that was published in their centenary year, 1950 : when my father would have still been working for them. Amongst other things it illustrates the range of processes that took place at the Bradford factory, from design and printing right the way through to the production of cardboard boxes and other forms of packaging material. Back in the 1950s, everything from a packet of Capstan Full Strength, through to a tube of Colgate toothpaste or a Chivers' Jelly was probably packed in a box manufactured by Fields.

My father was a wrapping mechanic - when he moved to Mackintosh's he maintained the machines that wrapped up Quality Street chocolates - and therefore the obvious place to search for my father was in the Engineering Department.  And within the centenary book there is a short section on the Engineering Department and there is a photograph.



And there, on the extreme left of the photograph, is Albert, bent over some machine part - a machine that would stamp, punch, bend and print him into history.

13 comments:

  1. A wonderful find and a gem of a photograph. How many of us could claim to have pictorial evidence of the work our parents did?

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  2. Wow! Oh Alan you must have been as pleased as punch when you saw that photograph and your father. Fantastic. Well done you !

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  3. I can hear Albert saying, Rog help that brother of yours because he wouldn't know a machine if one fell on his head. The term "wrapping mechanic" may have been peculiar to Mackintoshes. I served my apprenticeship with these men and I can vouch for the fact that they were highly skilled engineers. High speed wrapping machines account for some of the most complex mechanisms ever devised. In particular, Albert was a very inventive and innovative engineer and some of his innovations are still in use up to this day. For most of the war years he worked as a machine tool fitter for J Parkinson & Son, Shipley. It was after I was born (1943) that he moved to Fields. Before moving to Mackintoshes he had a tempting offer from a company in South Africa but my mother was having one of it! Maybe you still have the letter in your archives Ali.

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  4. Great find. I love your brother's add on. What would we do without our siblings to keep us on the straight and narrow. As is usual, you are an inspiration to search out some photographic records of my own father's work.

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  5. It's just like Forrest Gump says — "Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."

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  6. Oh what fun to find a photo of your dad like this. I'm always hoping to someday find a photo of my grandfather as a train engineer in some old photo for sale on ebay.

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  7. Hurrah for you, Alan, for finding this photo of your father! A great tale of researching skills...

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  8. Nice journey from remembering to finding the photo of your father at work.

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  9. Didn't Mackintoshes make the fabulous Toffos?

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  10. Nice sleuthing & happy find as a result!

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  11. An old saying;"wer sucht der findet" if you look for it you find it, you did! Great to have had dad working as Engineer in a sweets production factory. You know what I mean.

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  12. See -- Sepia Saturday makes us do the most amazing things leading to a wonderful find like this.

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