Hyders Plaxtol 1965 to 1972
A nostalgic look at a wrought iron work company in Plaxtol that used traditional methods of manufacturing and that was successful in the 1960's. Photographs were taken from from a small brochure printed in the sixties so the quality is not spectacular
Inglenook fireplace in showroom
Fire baskets and firebacks
John martin in white coat and myself
Blacksmiths shop with Charlie King
Sheet metal shop with "Uncle" Fred
Fitters shop with Ted Bear
Welders shop..No protective clothing
Paint shop with Percy and George
Wrought iron sign above entrance
I loved working in Plaxtol
Hyders Plaxtol was a highly successful company that served people like Harrods and had a brilliant reputation for making the best quality Art Metal work and employed the traditional blacksmith who would forge weld ironwork rather than modern day Arc welding.
I was at Hyders from 1965 to 1972 and was trained as a traditional pen and ink artist by Vic Powis, he also taught me a lot about perspectives and wrought iron designs and really gave me a head start in design and graphics work.
During that time I had the pleasure of meeting a few celebrities including film actresses and actors, politicians and even a famous ventriloquist. The most pleasant celebrity I met was a very young Michael Crawford ( Some Mothers do have them )
Ted Bear (right) and myself with a weather vane made to commemorate Sir Alec Rose's circumnavigation of the world in the Lively Lady yacht. I'm not as tall as I look in that photo.
The funniest incident that ever happened was when an explosion rocked the place , dust fell from the rafters onto my drawing board and Harry Lacey the Blacksmith foreman came running into my office shouting "Where is the Fu##er" looking for the apprentice that had filled a football with acetylene and then placed it on the forge.
The most embarrassing situation was to find a customer, an old girl, who had visited the showroom having a “whoopsie” in the showroom flower beds
Charlie King was another traditional Blacksmith, a kind gentle man who could create absolute wonders in iron, it was easy for me to draw full size elaborate designs on enormous sheets of brown paper but he would make them come alive.
David Hyder the owner of the Wrought iron Company was a typical old fashioned employer who was very abrupt and called everyone by their surnames, it actually took him some time to refer to me as David, as much as I prompted him that it was my name but we actually got to know each other well in the end. He managed to keep his workforce, and he had some exceptionally skilled workers, by supplying them with a tied house or flat in Bourne Vale where he owned every single property.
I had a two bedroom upper floor flat there for a few years until I left the job and was threatened with eviction.
Hyders supplied some of the big stores in London like Harrods (where I once visited to measure up an elaborate Italian wrought iron chandelier) and certainly had a very good group of regular customers where big entrance gates and massive staircase balustrades were part of everyday work. I was told that during the Second World War the factory was used to supply armament parts including components for the jet engine that Frank Whittle was working on
The fourteenth century showroom was always a big attraction with its crooked roof and very low internal ceilings as was the factory that used many old fashioned techniques in forging and fabricating metal work. It had several traditional forges and in the centre of the blacksmith’s area stood a massive automatic hammer that used to do all the heavy work. Dave Hyder had arranged for coach parties to visit and they would have a tour of the showroom and the factory. I had the dubious honour of showing these groups around, it was a good experience which I eventually enjoyed and it gave me confidence to deal with people at my very young age.
Company motto “Meditate on the joy of wrought Ironwork considering the while that anything made by us will be a thing of beauty and a joy forever”