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Illingworth House: 40 – Gold To Dross

…Sir Abe gave both Clemence and Grimstone the responsibility of teaching his son the tricks of the trade. After all, John was about their age and they would be working together in partnership when he had gone.

But John had started life at the top. Clemence and Grimstone, starting at the bottom and struggling to rise, they envied him from the start; envied his schooling, his easy polished manners, his speech. And above all, his wealth. They kept their envy under wraps, of course, but as time went on they cashed in at John's expense…

Without realising what he is doing, Abe Illingworth is putting the family business in jeopardy.

John Waddington-Feather continues his saga of a Yorkshire mill-owning family.

Simon Grimstone had the Midas touch. Of that there was no doubt. But sometimes his touch turned to dross. His venture in Leeds flourished until he employed a tarty secretary and she and the slump in property proved his downfall. On the days he wasn't in Leeds, the girl he employed ran the business for him, and worked overtime when he stayed the night.

Of course, the senior partners in the Keighworth law firm knew nothing about the business he was running on the side. For all they knew he was simply going into the city two or three times a week to study at the university. When they did find out, he was lucky not to get the push; even more lucky that his father had the money to repay what Grimstone had 'borrowed' from the firm's account.

Very shortly after he set her on, his secretary moved into the flat over the office, rent free for services rendered after hours. She was a good-looking girl, well blessed in the right places, and she was the apple of her father's eye.

That's when the trouble started. When he found out what she was up to, he complained bitterly to his employer, Isaac Goldstein, that one of his son's friends was taking his daughter for a ride. Old Goldstein was onto his son Sydney in a flash.

He grilled him about Grimstone and the property business he had invested in, and was furious. Old Goldstein had seen the slump in property coming a mile off and told his son to pull out at once. But it was too late. The rot had set in.

Grimstone was in it up to his neck. The girl left him and went back home. Worse still, he had transferred money from accounts in Keighworth, thinking he could pay it back when the property market picked up, but it never did. If the Leach brothers had discovered what he had done he would have been out on his neck and struck off the law list.

He turned to his father in desperation, and the old man subbed him out at the last minute. He returned the money before the Leaches found out it was missing.

Grimstone lost all the money which John Illingworth and Sydney Goldstein had invested as well as his own, but he didn't lose their friendship. They had all gone down the Swanee together and there was some comfort in that. Anyway, Illingworth and Goldstein weren't penniless for they were both heirs to fortunes. It had been little more than a bad gamble for them.

One man who was canny enough to steer clear of Grimstone's venture was Harry Clemence. Although he and Grimstone were as thick as thieves, he didn't buy in to the business when Grimstone offered him shares.

Clemence's star was rising and he had too much to lose if anything went wrong, and when it did go wrong he was well clear. He joined ranks with Grimstone in other ways and they helped each other make fortunes over the years.

When Sir Luke died, Sir Abe inherited everything, including his father's title. He was ambitious, wanting to join the ranks of the county set and wed his son off to a good aristocratic family with an even better title than his own. Status meant everything to him and now his half-brother Timothy was dead, there were no skeletons in the family cupboard to haunt him.

But he still needed to keep the family businesses ticking over, and there he made his big mistake. Thinking he could trust younger men who knew the trade, he gave Clemence and Grimstone more and more responsibility, till by the end of the 1920s, Harry Clemence had been made a junior director and shared an office with John Illingworth. Simon Grimstone became the family lawyer and, as the Leach brothers grew old, took over more and more of the Illingworth legal business.

Sir Abe gave both Clemence and Grimstone the responsibility of teaching his son the tricks of the trade. After all, John was about their age and they would be working together in partnership when he had gone.

But John had started life at the top. Clemence and Grimstone, starting at the bottom and struggling to rise, they envied him from the start; envied his schooling, his easy polished manners, his speech. And above all, his wealth. They kept their envy under wraps, of course, but as time went on they cashed in at John's expense.

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