4. Shelvoke & Drewry Enthusiasts' Club
Newsletter - Autumn 2018.
Fifteen Years Ago.
have selected two articles from the Autumn 2003 issue of the Magazine
(Issue No.3). Both refer to the work S&D carried out in the Second
World War and are a suitable addition to the article about tank
transporter trailers. The second article is on page 5.
FROM WELDER TO COST OFFICE MANAGER.
By Mrs. Freda Tassell.
SOME OF THE FEMALE WELDERS TRAINED AT S&D
was the Second World War that brought me to Letchworth and Shelvoke
& Drewry. In September 1942, at the age of 18, I was sent
from my home in Orsett, near Thurrock in Essex as a war worker. I was
trained to become an electric welder, working with other girls who had
also been called up. Some specialist men taught and helped us. Mr
Shelvoke was the Managing Director, and he used to regularly come round
and ask us if we were enjoying our work. He used to put on social
evenings for all the girls. We were welding manifolds and bends for
was then moved into the office as a cost clerk, working with Peter
Wright. We spent hours costing the latest secret weapon, the 4 man
submarine, which were built entirely by S & D. There were no
calculators in those days, and every single part, right down to the
last nut and bolt, was costed manually.
peace came in 1945 production of the submarines came to an end. The
factory started building the tiller controlled Freighters once more,
usually with a Chelsea type body. The following year, 1946, Mr.
Davenport became the Managing Director. He was always a great help, and
a friend to everyone.
Peter Wright died in the office in 1966, and I was asked to take his
place. I ran the Cost Office for 21 years, with the help of four lovely
ladies, until I retired in 1987, after 45 years with the Company, which
was nearing its end. We costed every single vehicle that left the works.
married my husband Alex in October 1945, and he returned to S & D
after war service in the Royal Artillery. His father had worked in the
Joiners’ Shop until he retired in 1940. He worked on all the models
with wooden cabs. Alex initially worked on the chassis line, and then
in the Service Dept. where he became a service inspector with Bill
Martin, Alex Taylor, Mick Walker, Tom Pryke and Ken Jenkins. Sadly all
these have now passed away with the exception of Alex Taylor.
me, and my family, Shelvokes was a family oriented firm, as it was for
many others. Alex’s brother, Eddie, also worked there, for over 20
years, at the No. 2 Factory. It was a sad day for me when I retired in
1987 – lots of tears were shed, apart from my husband and daughter,
Gillian. S & D had been my life.
kept in touch with Mr. Davenport after he’d retired and his wife Win
gave me a copy of the ‘Sphere’, from October 1947, that describes the
miniature submarines. I’m very proud of the part I played in the war
photo at the top of this article was sent in by Brian Sherwood in 2008
who wrote: "My father worked for Shelvokes from sometime in the 1920's
until his retirement in the late 1960's.During
World War II he was responsible for supervising a group of ladies that
had been directed to work at Shelvokes as part of a national scheme to
replace the male workers who had been called up to the Forces. I have
recently found two photographs taken at Shelvokes showing this group of
workers. I believe the photographs were taken in a newly constructed
workshop, located in a corner of the factory site adjacent to Cromwell
the photo my father is in the centre of the group and Bert Hall is on
the right. I do not know the names of any of the others in the
recollection is of being told that the majority of the ladies were not
local but came from other parts of the country. One of these ladies
came from Norwich. It appears her home had been bombed and every time a
plane flew over the works she dived for cover under her work bench."