We are grateful to Tim Rowe for diligently spotting an observation we made in the article headed, ‘It Was a Great Community Where Everyone Looked Out For Each Other’, in Bugle 1046, and he has responded to elaborate on the caption which described the contemporary view from Tetnall Street across towards Dudley Top Church: "It was stated that Top Church is virtually the only recognisable building from the 1950s. Well I can see at least two more either side of the hipped roof of the current T.A.
“When I started at Buckley’s in 1965, manufacturing in the forge was winding down, but it already had a long history. It was originally built in 1883 by my great grandfather John Buckley and was used for the manufacture of range knobs and oven knobs for black-leaded grates. In the early 1900s the firm was making fire irons, poker ends, etc., and our principal customer was F. W. Woolworth, supplying, at that time, every one of their stores in the country.
“In the mid 50s as a young lad of ten years of age my recollections of walking through the forge with my father Lou are unforgettable, since it was like walking into hell. The Tommy hammers would be striking the poker ends and gradually forging out the square end of the poker, and sparks would shoot out horizontally from the many hammers that were working. The coke fired furnaces lit up the dark interior casting eerie shadows, and smoke was forever hanging about throughout the forge. I can also remember seeing the electric flat backed trucks collecting the many heavy parcels of finished pokers from Dunn Street for delivery to Dudley Port Railway Station, from where they were sent to all parts of the country.
“The last three men I remember employed in the forge section were Ben Fletcher, Joe Bowater and Jimmy Millard. It was Ben's job to drill and tap the poker ends, but in the evening he became the projectionist at one of the, now sadly lost, Dudley picture houses. Joe worked in the polishing section on the first floor and so bad was the effect of the constant bending on his body to carry out his duties, when he walked along Alma Place on his way home after work his frame was bent forward in a very sad way. I can't recall what specific job Jimmy Millard had in the forge, but like Ben and Joe he was a hard worker.
“The accompanying photograph I have sorted out from the firm's archives has appeared in the Bugle before, but it's a great picture of the hard working Dudley men who worked for John Buckley around 1900, and as far as I am concerned sums up the down-to-earth characteristics of the Black Country working mon. The boss John Buckley is standing extreme left with his dog Tommy being held by one of his employees. At a guess the age of some of the lads sitting crosslegged at the front can't be more than 12 or 13, and although conditions look bad they were probably no worse than a great many other Black Country factories at the time.
“I am proud to say that John Buckley (Dudley) Ltd. is still on its original site and we continue to fly the manufacturing flag for the region, making forgings for all kinds of industry