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West Bromwich article brought many memories for me

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: May 19, 2014

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RE the article on George Salter Ltd in The Bugle (March 6 edition).

In 1957 when I first joined the company George Salter & Co. Ltd. - the largest employer in the town - it occupied both sides of the High Street in West Bromwich.

The more modern four-storey North Works was where weighing machines were made while the much older South Works was where springs were made.

It had an imposing Victorian frontage but there was ample evidence behind it of its history and evolution. Between the High Street, Spon Lane and Thomas Street was effectively the remnants of a small village. Over many years as the business had blossomed individual cottages and roads had been absorbed into the growing factory and even in the 1960s many of the cobbled streets and houses were still to be seen.

Specific activities took place in each building. Apart from the one where I worked (Spring Design) there was a laboratory (run by Chief Chemist Bob Slingsby, assisted by Barry Lane, John and Kim) a Building & Maintenance Department in two others, the Inspection Department (Chief Inspector Joe Aighton) in another, then Heat treatment, Plating, and an 'experimental department' run by Fred Ault helped by Mel Peel and Cedric, and several individual workshops in the others. Each building had within it people making one or more of the many different kinds of springs for which Salter's were world famous.

Fred Tranter was in charge of the manufacture of springs made from exotic materials – such as 'Inconel, Ni-Span 'C' and 'D' – all nickel based alloys made by Henry Wiggin of Sheffield. These were largely for use in commercial and/or industrial weighing machines which were required by Board of Trade regulations to perform within tight limits whatever the weather and temperature. Remember, Salters weighing machines were used in markets and industry from the equator to the Poles.

Arthur Gold's workshop made 'volute', flat springs and torsion springs while Eddie Martin and Horace Smith ran the 'Hot Spring' shop where the really big springs were made. These could not be manufactured from cold wire like the vast majority of the others. The 'silicon manganese ground bars' they used had first to be heated to red hot temperatures in order to bend them into shape.

Harry Wright had a roving brief covering spring making both at South Works and the new high volume production factory in Spring Road, Smethwick.

The main office block in South Works fronting the High Street housed administration, accounts, sales and purchasing. The Board of Directors had their office there – Managing Director R.P. S. Bache, Sales Director Robert Bache, Export Director Pat Bache and Technical Director John Bache. R. M Bache (Michael) was another member of the family but he chose to follow a career in the Law - William Bache & Sons, located in nearby New Street West Bromwich. (Where, coincidentally, my wife worked)

Other office staff I remember include Bill Whitehouse, Dennis Anelli, Mike Lloyd Morris, John Saunders, Jim Shaw, Frank Turner, Theo Bearder, Tom Beard and Stan George (all in Sales, home and export) Jean Warrilow in the telephone switchboard, Peter Robinson (admin) and Pat Thomas (accounts) David Collins was Personnel Manager though when he retired Gordon and Clive (I can't recall their surnames) took over the role.

David Tart

dtartbsbc@hotmail.com

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