Larger-than-life characters

JOVIAL DAYS: John Riddiough's timber yard, 1970. (S)
JOVIAL DAYS: John Riddiough's timber yard, 1970. (S)

It’s back in time 45 years this week with one in a series of photographs (all in colour) I took during the hot summer of 1970 for the 90th anniversary of the Colne timber merchants John Riddiough and Co. Ltd, of Barrowford Road.

I had been working as the yard invoice clerk (booking out the goods for the many clients, the record being 310 invoices in one day on Monday, June 12th, 1972, during the Government grant era!) when company director Maj. Stanley Hyde Riddiough MBE TD JP DL who, selected in 1977, would become the proud high sheriff of Lancashire, asked me if I’d design a montage for the company’s 90th year of trading.

This is just one of around 40 I took that year.

The timber yard had many great characters as employees over the years. Colne’s first teddy boy Bob Thompson started in the yard on a hot Monday morning.

By around 11am Bob was down to the office to see the major for a sub on his wage for “a couple of bottles of beer in this hot weather”. That was the end of Bob’s timber yard career.

The yard foreman Ken McDermott was one of life’s great jokers.

Whenever a new starter arrived, Ken would get out an old pair of wellingtons and arrange them carefully under a huge stack of timber! Then calling the hapless victim over, Ken would shout: “Hurry, he’s trapped under there”. It never failed. Ken’s wonderful laugh could be heard all through the timber yard.

Ah, happy days.

n P.S. My good pal Ken went on to found his highly successful taxi business, known as “Mac’s Taxis”, then later with his dear wife Muriel and daughter Sandra would run the Hall Street Fish and Chip Shop for 
many years.

Ken’s practical jokes at Riddiough’s are remembered still. One of the best was when having had a contretemps with the major he locked the timber yard entrance gates and put up a huge notice which simply read: “Gone fishing”!