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The Reyrolle Story: 35 – Private Business

...Bookies could be found throughout the factory and cigarettes and confectionary could be purchased with ease...

Robert Owen recalls the “Underworld’’ whih thrived at the giant Tyneside engineering firm, Reyrolle.

To purchase a copy of Robert’s book The Reyrolle Story please visit http://www.amazon.co.uk/Reyrolle-Story-History-Co-Ltd/dp/1905295073/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1245678876&sr=1-1

Reyrolle was an exciting place to be at Christmas. Most departments collected weekly for an end of year event and by tradition, Office Messengers were expected to do a forfeit for their Christmas present. Annual Dinners were often planned to coincide with the end of year. One of these, the Works Supervisory Staff Association, held its first dinner in 1950 and continued annually for the next 30 years. It was a big event and usually had a Director as the main speaker.

Finally, there was a huge underworld in Reyrolle which the management did not know about or, more likely, chose to ignore. Government (private) jobs were numerous and a devious worker could walk around for hours with a paper in his hand. Bookies could be found throughout the factory and cigarettes and confectionary could be purchased with ease. Anything more difficult took a little time, but in the words of one employee, "There was always somebody who knew somebody who could get what a purchaser wanted at an agreeable discount". The Reyrolle Circuit reported the following conversation which was allegedly heard at the 1964 Otterburn Conference.
First man: "What department are you from?"
Second man: "I'm from the offices"
First man after a moment's thought "Do you think you could fiddle me a typewriter?"

In many departments Friday was an unofficial early-finishing day when workers celebrated a premature start to the weekend. This was when weekly collections were made for numerous activities and/or charities. Harry Carrick remembers the football pools collector and the insurance man who appeared every Friday afternoon. Another former employee recalls a colleague who occasionally used to raffle his wages and who always finished up with a profit. Others remember the popular guy who "sold something for the weekend".


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