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My Days at Hyders Wrought Iron Works Plaxtol

Plaxtol 1965 to 1972

Hyders Plaxtol LogoA nostalgic look by Dave Sutton at a wrought iron work company in Plaxtol that used traditional methods of manufacturing and that was highly successful in the 1960's

The sign to the left was drawn full size by "Mac" on instructions by David Hyder. It was then modeled in Plasticine by Dave Sutton with instructions to make the blacksmiths look like Harry Lacey the Foreman Blacksmith and Charley King a very talented and mild natured blacksmith.
The blacksmiths and the fitters then manufactured it.

Hyders Plaxtol was a highly successful company that served people like Harrods and had a brilliant reputation for making the best quality Art Metal work and employed the traditional blacksmith who would forge weld ironwork rather than modern day Arc welding. They had eight tied flats and four tied houses in Bourne Vale and in my opinion it was the only way they could keep employees as the wage were not good.
I was at Hyders from 1965 to 1972 and was trained in the traditional pen and ink by Vic Powis, he also taught me a lot about perspectives and wrought iron designs and really gave me a head start in design and graphics work.
During that time I had the pleasure of meeting a few celebrities including film actresses and actors, politicians and even a famous ventriloquist. The most pleasant celebrity I met was a very young Michael Crawford ( Some Mothers do have them ).

Hyders Plaxtol

Hyders as it looked in the sixties, the Spout fourteenth century showroom on the left. a thriving business
employing approx thirty people

Spoute   firebaskets
Entrance room to the Spoute Plaxtol   Firebasket and fireback room
Dave and John   Charlie King Plaxtol
Dave Sutton Designer and John Martin
works manager
  Blacksmiths with Charlie King foreground
and Tony Broad left
Fred Bone   Welders
Fred Bone sheet metal worker   The fitters with Ted Bear in the background
welders   sparyshop
The welding shop   Spray shop- George Sharpe and Percy

Lively Lady weathervane

Ted and DaveThe photograph to the left shows Ted Bear and Dave Sutton with a weathervane made to commemorate Sir Alec Rose's circumnavigation of the world in the Lively Lady yacht.
The funniest incident that ever happened was when an explosion rocked the place , dust fell from the rafters onto my drawing board and Harry Lacey the Blacksmith foreman came running into my office shouting "Where is the ****er" looking for the apprentice that had filled a football with acetylene and then placed it on the forge.
The most striking thing about Harry were the glasses he wore with plastic frames that had melted from the heat of the forge and had left minimal space to see through.

Charlie King was another traditional Blacksmith, a kind gentle man who could create absolute wonders in iron, it was easy for me to draw elaborate designs but he would make them come alive. He used to work weekend evenings in the Forge restaurant Plaxtol giving the diners a demonstration of Blacksmith's work with a small working forge they had.

In the early days Hyders did not have the frontage as seen in the photograph above but had a small scruffy drawing office and a Nissan hut to store the patterns for chandeliers and such like. When the old drawing office was demolished and building work started on the new I was given a temporary office in the Nissan Hut. One day I was called away to see Vic Powis in the main office around the corner. While I was away the whole building collapsed and the first I knew about it was when Vic answered a telephone call asking if I was there. It was Dave Hyder ringing and I heard him shout down the line with relief when he realized I had not been buried alive. My good friend Joe Bishop had ruined his suit thinking I was buried and had tried to dig me out. The collapse of this building might have had something to do with the apprentices who used to fire old bits of metal from their catapults piercing the brittle asbestos sides of the hut.

You cannot live on peanuts

As much as I enjoyed working for them I had to leave as I had two young children and the wages could not support them. They were terrible days as I lived in a tied flat and was taken to court and faced with eviction. Luckily the Kent County Council came to my rescue and gave me a council house in St Hildas Plaxtol. On leaving Hyders I got a job as a milkman with almost double the wages, bought my first car, and really enjoyed the life in the open, talking to housewives and delivering milk.

People I remember are Harry Lacey, Charlie King, Tony Broad, Vic Powis, George Sharpe, Fred Bone, Joe Bishop
John Martin, Ted Bear, Joan Martin, Irene Fox , Rosalind Syme, Tom Drummond, Mervin Carr, James Britcher and Fred Ellis

If you have comments to make or information you would like added to this page or if you worked at Hyders Plaxtol contact me here

Meditate on the joy of wrought Ironwork considering the while that anything made by us will be a thing of beauty and a joy forever was the advertising slogan that was on all the brochures.