The Maypole, End of the Road.
Towards the end of 1922 a start had been made on Maypole’s new shipping sidings on the left hand side of Bridge Road. Built by A. & B. Hanson from designs which had been for competition in the “Architect’s Journal” it was completed in August 1923, and it has been acknowledged as one of the finest examples of brickwork in the country. Having reached 18 I was moved to work in this new department. It soon became obvious that it was much too big and, because of the distance the boxes of margarine had to travel on roller conveyors, a great deal of waste happened through boxes getting smashed by accidents. When in 1925 it was announced that the factory was about to close this was one of the first parts to be axed.
The firm encouraged all kinds of sport and I interested myself with the football teams. All the facilities and equipment were provided, with transport for away games. An outing was arranged to Erith Oil Works to play their works team. We were shown over the works, and I remember the large silos with copra and ground nuts in. One of our party was lowered into one on a bosun’s chair and came up with a hat full of monkey nuts. We watched as great presses squeezed the oil out and left the residue, a flat slab which was used to feed cattle. A very nice outing, though we lost the match.
A great blow hit the town when in May 1925 news came that the Maypole factory was to close down. Lever Brothers had taken over controlling interest and works study investigators had reported that overheads were much too high, and the whole site too big; and that alteration to bring production into the pre-wrapped era would be too costly. What a tragedy! a very happy work force, nearly all unskilled, facing notice. There was no such thing as redundancy pay in those days. But the management did everything it could to make the going as human as possible. There had been a pension fund to which men over 21 paid 6d a week. The printing works under Mr. Jordan was the first to go, then all outside contractor’s men; then came the big new shipping department in which I was working. Six of us were called to the works office and given a week’s notice one Friday to finish the next. Included in that six was my mate Bob’s father. When next Friday came we were paid two week’s money and in my case I had to sign that I had received my pension of 2/6 ( 12 ½p ), being 5 weeks I had paid. So at 21 and 5 weeks I was out of work and drawing pension money. I was allowed to keep my garden plot to the end of the year. Also, I did return for about two months later that year on a temporary basis.