Here’s a great newspaper clipping found by local history rapscallion Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler. It will be of great interest, no doubt, to Dave Moore, who’s campaign to save the pumping station at Sandfields, Lichfield is gathering steam.
This is a wonderful piece, again transcribed by the magic of Brownhills Dog’s generous transcription skills, without whom I’d be buggered, frankly. This blog is rapidly becoming the sum of the immense work of a great number of selfless folk, and I thank them all.
50 YEARS SERVICE FOR ONE COMPANY.
Lichfields Man’s Remarkable Record.
S.S.W.C PRESENTATION TO MR. J. PLANT.
TRIBUTES FROM HIS WORK-FELLOWS.
FIFTY years of unremitting service in the employ of the South Staffordshire Waterworks Company is the proud record of Mr. Joseph Plant, of Christ Church Gardens, Lichfield, who has recently retired as foreman engine driver at the Sandfields Pumping Station.
In January, 1866, Joe Plant, as a boy of nineteen, started at the “foot of the ladder” at the Sandfields Pumping station and went through every department-labourer, boiler cleaner, stoker, engine worker-until he became foreman engine driver some years ago.
What he does not know about those huge steam pumping engines, which are incessantly working at the Sandfields station, and which have pumped water for the citizens of Lichfield and district for many a year, is not worth knowing.
Mr. Plant has seen many important changes and can tell many humorous and interesting stories expanding over that half-century.
A native of the city, he was born at the Sandfields Cottage, a stone’s throw form the building where he was to create such a fine record of service, and the lane leading to his old home to this day is called “Plant’s Lane” after his father, who lived there for many years and who did a remarkable number of years; service as a railwayman.
For the past thirty-six years, until his retirement in January, Mr. Plaint resided at Waterworks Cottage.
The latter part of his fifty years and Sandfields saw the biggest changes, and perhaps the most important of these took place ion 1923, when three of the four old slow-speed engines were replaced by the two high speed engines which are working today.
FROM 1850 to 1925!
From a mechanical point of view that change was a revolutionary one, for the old engines-one of which is still kept in working order today, but is no longer used- were “James Watt” single-cylinder rotative beam engines and had been in use at Sandfields from 1858 to 1923.
These engines were originally used by the South Devon Atmospheric Railway Co. as blowing engines!
The New Engines were duplicity uni-flow centrifugal pumping engines, and as an engine driver at that time Mr. Plant proved his worth to the Waterworks Co. by quickly adapting himself to the modernised conditions which had been brought about by reconstruction, and later by the building of a filtration plant.
By coincidence he met another fifty year servant of the Company when, on Friday last, a special presentation of smoker’s requisites (a case of pipes and a tobacco pouch) was made to him by the Benevolent Fund of the Company of which he was a member for many years.
This interesting presentation took place at the South Staffordshire Waterworks’ headquarters in Sheepcote Street Birmingham, where over one hundred members and friends of the company had assembled.
The Engineer-in-Chief, Mr. F. J. Dixon M.I.C.E., M.I.M.E. (president of the Benevolent Fund), presided, supported by Mr F. S. Temple (Chief Mechanical Engineer), Mr G. Povey, Mr. W. Parker (Chairman of the Benevolent Fund), Mr. C. Brennan (secretary of the fund) and Mr. W. Shires, and a company of about thirty from Lichfield, including three of Mr. Plant’s sons.
During an interval Mr. F. J. Dixon made the presentation.
In doing so he said Mr. Plant was the only servant of the Company to serve under three engineers, namely Messrs. Vawdry, Ashton Hill and F. J. Dixon.
When he (Mr. Dixon) joined the Company his predecessor, Mr. Ashton Hill, informed him that he had a good and reliable engine driver in “Joe” Plant, upon whom he could fully depend should difficulty ever arise, and had always found those words carried out to the letter.
NOTHING TO REGRET
Applause and cheers followed when Mr. Dixon made the presentation, and despite his emotion Mr. Plant made a very suitable reply.
He had always tried to be honest in his work, he said, and had tried to help everybody he possibly could and had nothing to regret during those fifty years.
He looked forward to his retirement, but would always be pleased to meet his workmates in the knowledge that he could meet face to face. (Applause).
Mr. Plant is also the recipient of an easy chair, subscribed for bu his fellow workers at the Sandfields Pumping Station, who thought very highly of him.
As a keen sportsman in his younger days Mr. Plant represented Lichfield at cricket and football, and played cricket regularly on the old county ground at Aldershawe.
That sporting interest still remains, and he enjoys good health, to look forward to his retirement, while his sons W.H and W.A., carry on the cricketing tradition as stalwart members of the present Lichfield club.
As a keen gardener and a member of the Lichfield Allotments Society since its inception, Mr. Plant hopes to devote a lot of his leisure hours at this hobby. In 1924, amongst other successes at the Lichfield Society’s show he was awarded the “Gardening Illustrated” bronze medal of which he is very proud.