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By Margaret Goodwin, nee Bugby, 2010
Memories of Denton's

Living in the next street, Midland Road, from 1945 - 1966, I have many memories of Dentons. My dad & aunt, who lived with us, both worked at Dentons in Station Road for many years. I never knew them to work anywhere else & I still treasure the delicate gold watch that was presented to my aunt, Heather Higgins, (always known as Tip) on her 25 years of service probably in the late 1960s/1970. It still keeps perfect time!

Tip being filmed
"The human skill and mechanical ingenuity that go into the making of miners' safety are caught at close ranee by a film unit now working in a Rushden factory. Ordered by the National Coal Board, the picture will be shown extensively in mining districts."

From an undated newsclip

Tip was the eyeletter, putting the eyelets in boots & shoes. I believe there was only one eyeletter in the years of my childhood. Eyelets were either the usual metal edged ones, or 'blind' - which looked just like a hole in the leather.

When I was very young, I think work started at 7.00am (later changed to 7.30am) & there was a “buzzer”, audible from many streets around, to let workers know the time. I think there may have been 2 buzzers, 5 minutes apart - one to warn workers the shift was about to start, & one to signify the start of the shift. Tip & dad would only have a cup of tea at home, & take some cheese sandwiches (always cheese sandwiches, & always red cheese) to eat at the morning break at work. Mum & I would have our breakfast of eggs when they'd gone to work. (Remember the days of the eggboard ads - "Go to school/work on an egg?")

Another buzzer went at noon signalling lunch time, & most workers poured out of the factory to rush home for dinner, their main meal of the day, although Dentons did have a well patronised workers Canteen.

In about my third year of school, it was decided to finish morning school hours at 11.45am (previously noon) to give pupils time to get home before the noontime rush of workers began. Even before I started school, I'd wait at the bottom of our 'entry' at lunchtime for Dad to come up the street, because he always brought a comic home for me, which he got from a fellow worker who worked at Charlie Robinson's newsagency every morning before his day's work at Dentons.

Monday was a 'various' comic day, Tuesday was The Dandy, & sometimes Girls Crystal, Wednesday was School Friend, Thursday was The Beano & Friday was usually Comic Cuts, but could be another 'various' day - Topper, Tiny Tots, Radio Fun or Knockout - probably depending on what was left in the stands at Charlie's shop.

After lunch, at 5 to 1, another buzzer signalled it was time to return to the afternoon shift which started at 1pm, until the final buzzer at 5.30pm.

Early on Good Friday, Mum & I would go up to Cobley's bakery, to buy hot cross buns straight from the oven & take them to Tip & Dad at work. (Did they really work on Good Friday?) I remember going along a 'corridor' that led from the top entry door of the building in Station Rd, to a window opening into the factory, which was on a slightly lower level. Tip's machine was under the window & I'd deliver the bag of hot, freshly baked buns for the workers.

A couple of times a week, Tip would bring home new laid eggs supplied by a man who worked in the closing room & who lived at a nearby village. We had a special 'egg bag' made of brown suede leather that Mum had machined up. It always hung on the back of the pantry door, except on the days Tip took it to work & every Sunday, when Dad took it with him he went to the Trades Club about midday. I often used to accompany him to the Trade Club when I came out of Sunday School at St Peters & afterwards we went round to Mr & Mrs Drage's house in nearby Sussex Place to collect a dozen more new laid eggs. Entering the Drage’s house, directly into their living room, we were immediately surrounded by the deliciously warm smell of the Sunday roast & Yorkshire pudding cooking. The eggs were waiting for us, all individually wrapped in newspaper, in a dish on the sideboard, from where they were carefully transferred into the "egg bag" by Mrs. Drage. We were one family who certainly heeded the Government's ads!!!

But I digress - so, returning to memories of Dentons:

I recall Dentons as a very employee oriented firm. When the Totectors building was opened in Carnegie Street there was geat 'excitement' among the workers that Dentons was a leader, expanding into this 'new' steel toe cap area & filling orders for soldiers in Iraq - a country not many locals had much idea about in those days.

Every Christmas, Dentons would hold a party for employees' children in the Canteen which was at the lower end of the building, near Desborough's shop & house. After food, the tables were removed & we young ones sat around the walls eagerly awaiting games like pass the parcel & musical chairs & a magic show where the magician produced real flames from a brass bowl which brought gasps of wonder from the young audience!! Then at last, Santa would arrive with presents for everyone.

The employees themselves were not forgotten. They had their own annual Christmas dinner-dance which was held at the Windmill Club, so children of employees could attend too. I think employees could take one other person, so Dad took Mum, & Tip took me. After a sit down meal, the long tables were moved aside, & dancing began - the Barn dance, the Veleta, the Gay Gordons, the Dashing White Sergeant (a bit fast!) & even the Hokey Kokey. I felt very grown-up when the Barn Dance became progressive, & I got to dance with adults other than my Mum!!!

For at least one or two years in the 50s, Dentons also issued their employees with 'Halibut Oil Tablets' during the winter season - I suppose to keep colds & flu at bay & reduce employee absence. I'm not sure whether they were issued free, or supplied cheaply or whether it was a government program. Anyway, our whole family took them during the winter months & remained relatively cold free.

I believe Dentons also provided a regular chest X-ray for employees. Perhaps other firms did the same. It may even have been a government initiative. When dad was diagnosed with lung cancer, he always said that it was the X-ray that had picked up the spot on the lung.

I don't remember relatives at other factories getting these health benefits, but perhaps they did. Tip & Dad were certainly happy in their many years of employment there.

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