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Mr Zummerset Comes Home, Part 5

by Robin Wale

I think my dad knew more of me than I knew of myself.

Having settled me into two jobs, which I was happily enjoying, he now informs me that the manager of Bradfords in Langport is coming out Friday night at seven o'clock to interview me for a job in the office, as office junior.

Well can you imagine my immediate reaction. I was a outdoor person, enjoying working on the land. I didn't want to be shut away in a office. But who was I to argue with my dad?

Seven o'clock arrived Friday night, Mr Bellringer arrived and we went down to the front room. I sat in one corner of the room whilst dad and Mr Bellringer sat at the other side. They continued talking together until, at 9 o'clock, Mr Bellringer got up and said he had to leave and when could I start. By that point I had not said one word! My dad informed him I would start a week on Monday.

For those of you who are younger or newer to the area and have no knowledge of Bradfords in Langport, the office was what is now the Bakery Canteen. The old weighbridge is still visible in front. The beautiful brick building, that is now Shakespeare Glass and Arts, was the two storey grain storage building where many hundreds of corn sacks were stored for resale. To the front of that building and running back to the road where a lot of the current businesses are operating, was the coal yard with many bunkers holding the different household fuels. These were bagged to go out on the lorries for delivery. Across the road, the big warehouse housed all the animal feedstuffs, and continuing down the lane was the timber shed for local builders to collect from.

So what was my job? You may well ask!

There was Mr Bellringer, the manager; Ron Trott, transport manager; Mrs Bell accounts; Mr Dennett, agricultural salesman; and me, office junior.

My responsibilities were;-

  • taking orders on the phone from farmers, builders and householders
  • writing out and pricing invoices
  • ordering supplies to be collected from Crewkerne, Avonmouth, and Southampton
  • monitoring the diesel used by the lorry drivers with a tank reading at the end of the month – never easy!
  • walking down to Nat West Bank with the daily takings of cash and cheques – which would have amounted to a lot of cash and all carried in a cloth bag. Nowadays you'd think it would have made me very vulnerable but, thankfully, those days seemed a lot safer and passed without incident.

I would also oversee railway sleepers being taken off the lines and Bradfords purchasing them for resale, then mostly to farmers. I would ring round and offer them to farmers to make silage pits, the price being 8 shillings and 6 pence.

Well surprisingly I settled into the job and made many friends across the counter. And of course there was the added benefit of Mrs Langford (Nora) bringing across home made cake and strawberries in the summer.

I had two happy years in the office until an unexpected call at home one evening set the course of my life for the next 48 years.

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