Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Bottles of beer for the boys

I was looking through a photo album yesterday and spotted a couple of photos of my mum's dad that I hadn't seen for a while.

He was born in Beswick, east Manchester, in 1909, but grew up in Old Trafford, started work as an apprentice at the nearby Metrovicks engineering factory in Trafford Park in the late twenties and became a toolmaker and a shop steward in the Amalgamated Engineering Union (one of his mates on the shop floor was Hugh Scanlon, who became President of the union in 1968). He moved to the new Manchester Corporation housing estate at Wythenshawe just before he got married in 1938, and to Metrovicks' Wythenshawe Works when it opened in the late fifties, working there until it closed in the early seventies, and he became a porter at Barnes Hospital.

The first photo is of a works social for long-serving employees, sometime in the sixties in the canteen at Wythenshawe Works. My grandad is on the left (naturally) in the light suit and glasses.

Apart from all the men wearing ties (I wonder who put an end to that tradition?), the other thing you notice is the beer bottles lined up along the table, supplied by the company for the event. I'm not sure any employer now serves alcohol to its workers on the premises given the potential for litigation if things go awry. although I think some still open a bar tab at a venue off-site for them, and even then there are possible legal pitfalls (by the time I started working in the civil service in the nineties, drinking at office parties had been banned after someone fell to their death from a window at one in Salford). Even zooming in on the photos, it's hard to make out the label on the beer bottles, but I think it might just be that of Groves & Whitnall, the brewery which inspired Coronation Street's Newton & Ridley.

The second photo, from around the same time, is of my grandad eating his butties at his work bench. He's also reading The Sun, which had replaced the Daily Herald in 1964 and was still then a Labour-supporting newspaper, and would remain one even under Rupert Murdoch's ownership until the mid-seventies.

Part of the Union: my grandad's 1963-64 AEU membership card

1 comment:

  1. I remember the terrible accident in Salford; it shocked everyone in the department at the time. One of the two who died had actually stepped in to try to break up the argument and both stumbled through the window. I don't recall any answer to the question why people could accidentally fall through a 5th floor window. No safety bar at waist height?