John Burrows

Sales - Concrete

If you have any memories of John or the Concrete Sales Team please add a comment below.

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  • Thank you for your lovely comments. Yes Dad (John Burrows) did love rugby and did play too.

    By Angela Burrows (28/02/2014)
  • Hi John. You mention Kirkintilloch in your reply and I remember that name for two reasons, one being that we used to go there for lunch sometimes if I’m not mistaken, and secondly, a young lad from there died in the Ibrox football stadium tragedy and we were in town on the day of his funeral. I don’t think we would have known that there was going to be a funeral in the town that day, otherwise I’m sure we wouldn’t have gone there for lunch if we had known, maybe somewhere else would have been more suitable at the time, but we were not to know, You also mention it being freezing cold, YES, it was ******* cold while we were there too! We hadn’t been at the hotel very long, only a day at the very most, when we came out to the van in the morning, ready to go to site, and noticed hand and foot prints in the snow up the windscreen and onto the cab roof, and………no more spare wheel, GONE, spirited away into the Glaswegian night! The spare was fitted onto the cab roof on the Austin J4 pick up vans with a large but simple ‘wing nut’, not too difficult to undo, even in very snowy and icy conditions! Dave Cowen invited us all round to his place one afternoon for a cuppa, as you say, a likeable man. I do seem to remember he smoked quite a bit, and I have this memory of him having a cigarette on the go, one behind his ear, and another coming out of the packet as he spoke! Do you remember anything like that about him John? I have looked up the ‘Dalreada Motel’, online, where we stayed back then and have found out that it was demolished in the 1990’s, having had a ‘chequered’ life since the 1960’s when it was built! It was there that I first saw a colour television working, I think it was in the lounge, or maybe reception, not sure. There certainly wern’t many about in those days,1969, hotels or otherwise!      Chippy Aston

    By Graham Aston (02/11/2013)
  • Chippy! Your memory for detail does you credit! Two three-column presses were delivered to Hulland Products at Chryston, Glasgow, (near Kirkintilloch), in 1968. I recall a visit there in the middle of winter, when I was working in the D.O. Hydraulics section, to tune-up the Vickers pump and valve systems that were new to those type of machines. I well-remember Dave Cowen who was a most likeable character. Nothing seemed to faze him despite everything being covered in snow and freezing in what seemed to me to be one of the coldest places on earth!     John B

    By John Bancroft (01/11/2013)
  • Hi Ollie. I was probably away for approximately three weeks, but I have to admit I really can’t remember now. The visits to Northumberland Winstone and Stockton Stone could have been set up by Dave Jones while we were in Glasgow, either at the hotel or on site, or maybe in Gloucester before we even left, I don’t know. The press we were working on was a 400 ton, three column type for pressing concrete slabs. I think it would have been myself and Dave who would have done the majority of the work, with possibly Hullands fitters assisting where and when required. The only one I can recall the name of was Dave Cowen, but I think he was maybe in charge of maintenance and may not of actually worked on the press with us. Chippy Aston

    By Graham Aston (31/10/2013)
  • What a great story Chippy! You’ve really captured the atmosphere of an away job there! It sounds like you were up in the North for quite some time (including Glasgow, Northumberland, and Stockton). How long were you away for all told? Also, would those jobs on the way back have been pre-planned or would Fielding’s have told you to make those stops in Northumberland and Stockton whilst you were away? If so, how did they get in touch with you (not being in the age of the mobile phone then!)?

    Wow! Pulling a “ghostie” – I’ve not heard it called that before! And it took that long to re-assemble the press – it must have been quite large? – what sort of press was it? Did Dave and Geoff help with the reassembly or did you work with Glaswegian fitters from the company too? Cheers, Ollie

    By Ollie Taylor (07/06/2013)
  • I know that Geoff had a braced leg and walked with quite a limp and he was always up for doing plenty of overtime.

    The journey to Glasgow took a long time as the pickup was fully loaded with kit. All of Geoff’s welding gear, inspection equipment, and my large toolbox. When we eventually got to Glasgow we went straight to the hotel, The Dalreada Motel on, I think, the A8, not far from an area called The Steppes. When we checked in and the receptionist asked for Geoff’s name he said, “Heaven, about as close as you can get to it at the moment!”.

    The visit to Glasgow was to a company called Hulland Products. One of their presses had developed bad cracks in the weld around the main cylinder framework and so we had to strip it down so that Geoff could burn out the cracked areas and then re-weld them. To burn out the old weld he used a method that involved copper-coated carbon rods which were held in a grip, the same as an arc welding grip, and oxygen which, when he struck an arc with the rod, he pulled a trigger on the grip and the oxygen would blast away the molten metal.

    I was on that job with Geoff, Dave Jones (the Acceptance Engineer), Barry Aldridge (the Inspector), and maybe a Pipe Fitter, but I can’t really remember for sure about that. Barry’s job was to check all the new welds after Geoff had done them and also check for any others that may have come about.

    We were in Glasgow over the New Year and that was a very different experience to a New Year in Gloucester! Copious amounts of alcohol were involved and I seem to remember Barry, in particular, having a very sore head the next day! Mind you, I don’t think I would have been able to run round the block in the morning!

    On one occasion during the job, I think when we were re-assembling the press, we worked what we called a “ghostie”: that meant we worked all day and on through the night and into the next day to get the job done and get ahead of schedule.

    Geoff and I found one night that we could start up the fork lift trucks with a piece of flattened out welding rod, and did some joy riding around the yard in the dark during our breaks! Oh dear, the things we did sometimes!

    We were at work on a Saturday afternoon when the terrible Ibrox Park tragedy happened, it cast an awful cloud over Glasgow.

    When we were finished at Hullands, myself and Dave Jones travelled down to another company called Northumberland Winstone to check their machines and then the next day on down to Stockton Stone to do the same checks. I think Stockton Stone went on to become Marshalls, maybe someone could help me there?

    Hope all of this gives you an idea about what we did back then. Best regards, Chippy Aston

    By Graham Aston (27/04/2013)
  • Thanks Chippy, amazing you can remember all those Fielding’s vans after all these years! Don’t s’pose you remember the job you went to do with Geoff in Glasgow in 1969? What a funny story! Oh and any further memories of Geoff would naturally be appreciated. You’d’ve spent quite a bit of time together on that journey!

    You’re right about the camaraderie at Fielding’s, I’ve felt it ever since I started working with Fielding’s folk! Cheers, Ollie

    By Ollie Taylor (26/04/2013)
  • Hi Ollie, the ‘people skills’ you ask about, I don’t recall them being taught to us, I’m sure it was just the very nature of working at Fielding’s and there being a very good camaraderie between everyone.

    As for John’s van, no I didn’t ever drive it because he would have been away on another job with the van. There was a small fleet of vans that were used for travelling to sites all over the country. The vans I can remember over the years were Minis, Ford Escorts, Morris Minors, Morris Marinas an Austin J4 (?), and Austin A50(?) with column gear change (stir it around and hope to find the right gear!). Both of those were pick ups.

    I remember driving up to Glasgow in the J4 with one of the welders named Geoff Heaven on a very wintery December day in 1969, not the best way to get to Glasgow I can assure you! Heaters were not the most efficient things in those days, I think we travelled all the way with our overalls on and donkey jackets to keep warm! Happy days, yeah, they probably were! Best regards, Chippy Aston

    By Chippy Aston (07/04/2013)
  • What a wonderful, detailed collection of memories of John, Chippy! I guess being the happy and helpful chap you describe was essential to the type of work he’d do – meeting and working with new people in new places on a regular basis. I wonder if there was ever any instruction in those ”people skills” (as we’d call them today) in the apprentice school (or did Fielding’s just have a knack for employing very personable folk!)? Also, when you did jobs for John in his stead, did you have to drive the van he’s standing next to in the picture? I wonder what it was like to drive…?!

    By Ollie Taylor (05/04/2013)
  • I can remember John coming into the Fitting Shop where I worked (Hydraulic 2, as it was called) and he would always stop by ‘the spares bench’ and have a chat with Bill Dowdswell, Harold Longley, Bill Moseley and Don Keyse. I seem to remember he played or was very interested in rugby(?). There would be an awful lot of laughter coming from that area when John was about! The spares bench area was quite a meeting place for people passing through Hydraulic 2!

    John used to travel the length and breadth of the country servicing and repairing ‘stone plant’ equipment manufactured by Fielding & Platt. If he was unable to go to a customer because of other work one of us from the workshop would be asked if we would go instead. This happened to me one day. The job was in Southern Ireland at Clondalkin Concrete on the outskirts of Dublin. John gave me some very sound advice about drinking while I was over there, and that was, “Chippy, if they start on a drinking session, do not try and ‘go with them'”………he was right! After completing the job in Dublin I traveled to Limerick on another part of the job when that advice again came in very handy! I was staying in a motel right next door to the Works and one afternoon myself and some of the other workers went into the bar of the motel for a drink as there was a Hurling final being shown on the television in the bar. Well, I’m sure you can imagine the rest! I remembered what John had told me, not that I didn’t have a drink, but I didn’t consume the same amount that the other guys did that afternoon/evening!

    On another occasion I was going to a company called ‘Shap Granite’ in Cumbria and asked John how to get there. He said, “Chippy, it’s really easy, drive up the M6 and when you see the sign for Shap turn left off the motorway and follow the road to the T junction. Turn left and you come to Shap Granite, or turn right and you come to The Greyhound pub where you stay”. True to his word, it was as simple as that! It was while I was there that I first ever saw horizontal rain!

    On one other occasion John’s help was very useful when I was going to a place called Kemnay in Aberdeenshire and needed to know where the factory was and somewhere to stay. Sure enough, John was able to tell me what I needed to know, oh and about some of the characters I might meet while up there! Yep, he was right! Happy memories! Chippy Aston

    By Chippy Aston (04/04/2013)

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