Chapter 12


Life Begins at 40


Life at work in Steel house Redcar became increasingly unsettled from 1980 onwards B.S.C. were going through very difficult times, works strikes were occurring and redundancies were back on the agenda I made tentative enquiries about volunteering but was told that they wouldnít let me go. I felt privileged. However the B.S.C. was in serious decline, the bottom dropped out of the world market and predicted tonnage slipped from 29,000tons/annum to less than 9,000tons/annum. Ian McGregor a Canadian merchant banker came to B.S.C. as the hatchet man with the promise of a Knighthood after the Industry had been butchered down to size.

Draughtsmen and engineers were leaving month by month, there was very little development work coming into the office and my department like all the others was being slowly reduced, We even took consultancy work from B.S.C. Over seas who worked from their head office in London, In particular the Wadi Sawawin project for Saudi Arabia I also did consultancy work for British Steel Industries who had been formed to provide back up to Steelworks closure areas including Hartlepool, Corby, Scunthorpe and Consett.

The general principal was to utilise existing Works buildings and turn them into self contained starter units to promote and encourage new business.

I was offered a job with B.S.I. to re-locate and work in London but declined, I still gave them assistance an a consultancy basis and my time along with my colleagues was charged out to them on an hourly rate.

It was now deeply embedded in my mind that I wanted to get out of†† the B.S.C.

One Monday morning out of the blue came the news that our Chief Engineer was leaving. I applied for redundancy and was told that they didnít want me to leave but if I was determined to go they would let me go in six months time. I made arrangements to take voluntary redundancy and decided to work for myself from home preparing plans.

Ian was planning to get married, I was now 43 years of age was this my last chance to do something different, I was very confident of my own ability.

I was playing snooker regularly for Wheatley Hill Club in the Langley Moor and District Snooker League. The team has been very successful over the years and Iíve had some great times meeting and playing from all over the county. We play on Tuesday nights and whilst I canít hold my place these days I still wouldnít miss a night.















Ian & Joy Wed





Ian married Joy Purvis on 10th September 1983 on an extremely wet Saturday afternoon. He was married at St Bartholomewís Church Thornley with the reception at Thornley Working menís Club. The vicar said it was extremely lucky to be married on a rainy day. Everyone went out of their way to make it a memorable and happy day for them.

Now there was only Violet myself and Paul at home. We booked a trip to the Austrian Tyrol with Zebra Coaches, who were a new company operating out of Trimdon Grange. The number of others wanting to join us quickly grew to 8 including Paul, Andrea, Ian & Joy and Violetís sister Evelyn and her 2nd husband Albert. It was our first trip abroad and with having all the family together we had a great time staying in Mayrhofen (Silent Night was written by the local priest) in the Austrian Tyrol. The Mountain scenery was absolutely stunning, while there we visited Saltzburgh to see some of




















††††††††††††††† L to RPaul, Andrea, John, Joy, Violet, Evelyn, Ian, Albie


the sets and back grounds to the film the Sound of Music. We hired bicycles and visited other towns along the valley bottoms. Thereís a great photograph of all of us on our bikes in one of our albums. We went on organised trips to Saltzburg, Germany and Italy. We enjoyed this holiday so much we went back on another two occasions and found it just as good each time, there was always something different to do or see.††††††


I started working from home and began to build up a steady workload, I received a few commissions from B.S.C. Industries but they were now beginning to wind down.

Sir Ian McGregor was transferred to the N.C.B. to butcher that Indusry and I can remember telling some of my mining friends Frank Jackson and Hughie Heppel that this was the end of their jobs. They jokingly thought that Arthur Scargill would sort McGregor out. We all know the outcome.


Problems were just around the corner the miners were going for a head on collision with Thatcherís Govít. The Easington Area was grinding to a halt, huge dependency on the coal Industry meant that people were unsure of their futures and were not looking to far ahead. My phone stopped ringing no one wanted plans, so I started to look further a- field and in1985 answered an advert in the Northern Echo relating to an East Coast Site Development.(This turned out to be Seaton Carew residential caravan park and there were so many problems on this site that it was subject to 26 conditions of prosecution by the local authority. I actually went to court on behalf of Burtree when I was just starting to work for them and Iím pleased to say that I sorted it out and the site actually finished up getting an award.)

I was very surprised to receive a letter offering an interview from Burtree Caravans on the outskirts of Darlington. Burtree Caravans was owned by The Martin family whose head office was in Stockton. Mr Martin was the co-founder of (Ditchburn, Martin and Steele) The Martins had retail depots selling cars and caravans at various locations in the North. The Managing Director of Burtree was Brian Fairey a big smart fellow about the same size as my brother Frank. The interview went very well and he said he would be in contact in due course. He wanted me to do plans for

his caravan parks. I didnít realise at that moment how significant this meeting was to become. I was asked to prepare a plan of Heather View Caravan Park in Stanhope and indicate possible developments to provide pitches for fully serviced caravans. This Park had originally been owned by the Stanhope Co-op Society and had now been secured on lease by Burtree. Over the next few months I did various jobs for

Mr. Fairey including work in connection with Seaton Carew which Iíve mentioned earlier and he asked me if I would like to work for them full time. At first I declined, preferring to work as I was. I was asked to go to Martins Head Office in Stockton to try and sort out a job theyíd been struggling with for about a year I produced a drawing and got them planning permission within a few weeks and they were delighted. Iíd obviously found a new source of work.