Epsom branch 102

Photo:Epsom branch 102 in the High Street

Epsom branch 102 in the High Street

John Lewis Archives


By Terry Hammond

Having spent a few years at Gloucester Road it was time for a change. As a ‘trainee’ the advice was to get experience in other branches so when a vacancy came up in Epsom I applied and got the position of Assistant Section Manager Grocery.

The Branch Manager was Harry Coppin and Fred Seward his deputy, Gordon Parris was Warehouse Manager, Len Minnards managing FRV and Les Abbott was on bacon having come from the recently closed Wandsworth Common branch. Gordon also had 2 brothers working in the branch.

The Operations Manager, Gerry Kelliher had an office upstairs as a base.

All deliveries from Bracknell came on ‘skids’ which was about a metre square platform with wheels at the back and legs at the front. A so called ‘pogo stick’, a lug at the end of a metal pole on wheels, which located into a protruding hole in the front of the skid lifting the legs clear of the ground. This enabled the skid to be moved into an unloading position so that each case of stock could be unloaded onto a belt into the upstairs warehouse. There were no sides to the platform so stock could fall off relatively easily and no shelter for the unloader in bad weather !

It was normal practice to take the stock off the belt and stack it in some sort of order so the delivery could be checked against the yellow delivery notes and in those days each case had to have the unit price written on it. Each item was then priced before going onto the shop floor shelving.

Gordon had developed a technique whereby he could check the stock off as it came up the belt and all we had to do was carry the cases to their warehouse location sharpish as stopping the belt was a no-no !

We had a way for moving floor stacks of cases 5 or 6 high in the warehouse which involved getting hold of the bottom case and wiggling it into position to make room for a new stack. On one occasion I didn’t realise that the top case was open and the loose cans came crashing down. I’ve still got the scar on my eyebrow as well as the scar at the base of my thumb from a fixed blade Stanley knife which slipped. These knives were routinely used to split cases of stock in half for pricing which was given to me at Gloucester Road in 1965 which I still use from time to time more than 50 years later !

My shining hour was when a gentleman in a chauffeur driven Austin of England car arrived at the back door demanding to be let in. I refused and got quite cross with his persistence.

This gentleman then appeared in the branch and introduced himself as Stanley Carter, the then Director of Trading, (a fearsome but well respected man). He made a beeline for me and thanked me profusely for standing firm as he had become fed up being able to easily walk into other branch back doors that day- phew!

Harry Coppin left the branch to take over from Fred West at Gloucester Road and in came Mr Stanbow, recently recruited from Marks & Spencers.

Mr Stanbow had his own unique style which included remerchandising the branch on a Friday, finding his own supplier of cut flowers with cakes and puddings which came direct from Avana Bakeries by-passing the buying office at Greenford. He moved on quite soon.

My memory can’t recall any other partners from that period and would welcome any additional information.

This page was added by Terry Hammond on 05/04/2017.

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