My Life as a Pattern Maker at Guest & Chrimes
After serving my apprenticeship at Hadfield's of Sheffield, I applied to Guest and Chrimes of Rotherham for a job as a Pattern Maker.
When I started my employment the owner of the company was Mr. Charles Watson who died shortly before I left and was succeeded by his son James Watson; several of the family were also directors of the company.
My working day commenced at 7.30 and ended at 4.30, this was usually five, but sometimes six days a week depending on the urgency of the workload,
I travelled to and from work by bicycle, but I must admit the distance seemed to get longer as I got older!
I found the management to be strict, but fair, in fact I believe that Mr. Charles was a lay preacher at Talbot Lane Methodist Chapel.
During my years at the firm, I was engaged in making wooden patterns to enable the foundrymen to cast the various types of water valves; these were of the screw type invented by the original founder of Guest & Chrimes. The size of the patterns varied from the smaller household devices to monstrous structures several feet high used in Power Stations.
Patternmakers would be given a drawing provided by the companies' draughtsman and we would develop the items as required. The patterns were precision made and had to be larger than the desired end product. Molten metal shrinks when it cools and different metals have different shrinkage rates. Patternmakers had special rulers to help them work out the expansion rates of the metal. This allowed them to make the wooden patterns the correct size to allow for this shrinkage. The patterns were made in two parts. Foundry workers prepared the moulds, which consisted of a metal frame, called a casting box. They placed the bottom half of the pattern into the mould, filled it with moulding sand, packed it down, and packed in the top half of the pattern. Finally they would place another frame on top, filled it with sand and compressed it. They baked the mould dry because if they attempted to put molten metal into wet sand, it would explode. When the molten metal had been poured into the mould and allowed to set, the mould would be taken apart revealing the end product.
The internal components were made of brass and gunmetal and these items would be prepared in a similar way in the brass foundry.
All components would then be moved to the Machine Shops, within the firm, to be refined into the finished product, ready to be exported all over the world.
There were many changes to the craft, but perhaps the main one was automation, this took away the hard work involved, therefore the end-product was produced faster resulting in increased profits.
As I relate my story there are several names that come to mind, the men I worked with:
Jeff Hawk, Terry Stock, George Walker, Dave Southall, Percy Swindon and the checker Bill Ginever.
I found the days long in my latter years, as my mother became very ill, and as well as working, I became her carer. She was a lovely lady who died recently at the age of 100 years. She was very proud to receive her telegram from the Queen.
Mother left us in 2006 and I must confess that there was a piece of me that was empty, after all, I had lived with her all my life.
Things are getting better now, I am starting to recover from my great loss and socialising once more, having taken up Crown Green Bowling and meeting with friends at the local pub.
I hope this piece of history will be of some use to people of the future and I also wish them a life as full and as happy as mine.
Derek. J. Jacobs, September, 2007
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