Page 5. SD Enthusiasts' Club Newsletter - Autumn 2017.
Of Special Interest to former SD Employees.
It is with regret that we learned of the death of Percival Ernest Harmes on 23rd May 2017 at the age of 88. Preferring to be known as Ernie, he had suffered from Parkinson’s disease for several years. Ernie was a much loved partner, father and grandfather as well as a demonstrator driver at S & D. Later, I understand, he became chauffeur to Stan Quin, SD’s Managing Director. On your behalf I have offered condolences to Ernie’s family and have received a reply from Michael Harmes which included the photo below.
Ernie is shown at the 1982 London to Brighton Historic Commercial Vehicle run, at which he was the driver and is shown at the centre of the photo wearing a bowler hat.
Two former demonstrator drivers have written to me.
Barrie Woods said:- “I remember Ernie very well as he took me out many times on the Artic in order to get me through my HGV 1, which I passed.”
Steve Swain wrote via Facebook:- I have good memories of Ernie Harmes. He was due to take on the job of chauffeur to one of the directors (Basil Barber I think) and I had joined S&D as his replacement, I think it was 1971, delivering and demonstrating fork lift trucks with the Commer TS3 tractor unit and a four in line low loader trailer.
My previous employer, having agreed to sign the papers to enable me to get an artic licence (under grandfather rights) went back on his word and only signed me up for the class2 multi axle rigids (I had been driving both). So, I was effectively now a learner class 1 driver and Ernie came with me as instructor. He taught me everything about the job and I may say, my driving faults! He always carried a cane in the cab as I had a bad habit of resting one hand on the gear lever and would whack me as soon as he saw it! He was a really great bloke and the job was not as enjoyable (for me) once he went to his new duties. I have some good memories of the journeys we did all over Britain. I delivered quite a few refuse vehicles when there was no fork lift work and used to love watching the sign writers finish off the cabs, very skilful guys.”
Two delightful testimonies from those who knew Ernie. Michael Harmes also sent me Ernie’s collection of SD memorabilia which I will describe in the next Newsletter.
On 6th August Samantha Hubbard posted on Facebook:-“My grandad Jack Hubbard worked for the company both before and after the war.” And also posted were six photos, a newspaper cutting and two letters.
A very modest description of SD’s Chief Demonstrator driver from 1936 to 1979. The two letters Samantha posted give a glimpse of the man Jack was. They concern a visit to Scotland that Jack undertook in 1948. A. Inman wrote to Harry Shelvoke:- “Our Chief Demonstrator Hubbard did a wonderful spot of work during this tour. He was willing to work all hours, including Sundays, and somehow kept the vehicle perfectly clean. It is a great pity that there are not more like him about today.” Harry Shelvoke wrote to Jack:- “I think you must be fully aware of the regard in which you are held by the Heads of this business …” Praise indeed for the hard to please Harry Shelvoke.
I turned to ‘Trying a Tiller’ in Nick Baldwin’s 1979 Vintage Lorry Album, to learn a little more about Jack. In the article Jack recalled that in pre-war demonstrations he could remember it taking three days to do a Scottish trip and a journey from Newcastle-on-Tyne to the factory in Letchworth which started at 4.00am, and by going flat our and coasting whenever this increased his speed arrived at 4.00 pm. Below Jack demonstrates a Freightlifter to the Duke of Edinburgh at Peterborough.
Roger Morrisroe sent in this scan of his membership card of the Shelvoke & Drewry Apprentices Association. As the nephew of an SD apprentice, and a former apprentice myself, I was a little surprised that I had heard so little of this Association. The card tells us that Stan Quin was the President which since he’d been an SD apprentice and had become Managing Director of the Company seems entirely appropriate. The Vice Presidents were Tom Tillson, the Chief Engineer and Fred Walker the Company Secretary. I think readers would be interested to hear any memories former apprentices may have of the activities of the Association. Was the £3.12 per year good value for money?
NEWS OF FORMER EMPLOYEES.
I have felt it right to try to pay tribute on these pages to former SD employees that I’m notified have died. After all in the past the Company had the custom of flying the Company’s flag at half mast to mark such an occasion. I have resisted the temptation to report on serious ill health or the deaths of relatives of former employees. From time to time I learn of long term health difficulties for former employees and I am wondering whether you would like me with their family’s agreement to pass on these items of news. It could well be a little help to the family to know that their relative is remembered by their former work colleagues. I have little idea of how many former employees regularly follow this Newsletter, but pleased let me have your views on this topic.