William Whiteley and sons

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Sally’s Blog: Rambo and Radio

Back in the days of Old Whiteley’s on Garden Street, the shop-floor shared a common wall with the hardening shop, which was also on a lower level.

Hardening is the process that makes the steel hard enough to hold an edge. To harden the steel, each blade is submerged in a furnace, then quenched in oil.

dip forge scissors

Scissor forgings during the hardening process

There were radios on the shop floor with speakers close to where people were working, so that they could hear the music, or football, cricket or tennis commentaries through the day. They had to be loud to overcome the factory noise.

A factory worked next to a old fashioned radio

Working beside the radio

A young man, Craig, came to join us as a trainee to learn as many skills as he could. He was tall, fit, well-built and very quickly earned the nick-name “Rambo” for himself as he was very keen on hammering, big tools and anything involving moving things or lifting etc. He never felt the cold!

An old newspaper cutting picture of Rambo

A picture of Rambo from an old newspaper article about Whiteley’s

When he was learning and assisting with the hardening, he was dismayed at the lack of a radio and music in the hardening shop, so he went a got a sledge-hammer and knocked a hole in the wall by bashing out a few bricks between the shop floor and the hardening shop! He then positioned a speaker over the hole and was a happy man. So, when no hardening was happening, the speaker was turned round to face the main workshop again. Problem solved.

This caused huge merriment amongst the entire staff including the directors, who really should have been very stern about the whole thing, but we were laughing along with everybody else at the sheer nerve of it!