Wally Rayner was the popular Works Manager at Richmond Road during John’s time. He had worked at the Hawker factory at Langley during World War Two and at some point after Langley closed had moved back to Kingston as Assistant Works Manager.
The Works Manager there, if you speak to anyone that was there in my time, was a man called Wally Rayner. He was the Works Manager and you couldn’t find anyone better than him. He – you couldn’t pull the wool over his eyes because he’d started there as an apprentice and worked his way up.
If he told somebody off for something then he found out it wasn’t their fault, he would come to the department and gather all the men round and apologise to you. He was one of the ‘old school’, what I call the ‘old school’. He’d done the work and he knew how to do it.
Did you have any particular experiences with him yourself?
Oh yeah, he used to take the ‘mickey’ out of me when we was playing darts. Because I’m quite tall he used to say, ‘What’s the point’, he said, ‘you’re almost sticking them in the board’. But oh, he was a nice man. He came there one day, and you know, ‘I’ll bet you sixpence for a game of darts’. And if you saw him in Kingston he’d shout across the road at you.
If you started there, if you hadn’t met him within a week there was something wrong. He’d come and find you sometimes if you were new. I’d been there about a week and I say he’d come and say, ‘How are you getting on’ and things like that, or you know is everything all right’. He almost took a – not a fatherly – but you know a sort of interest in things.
Like we had white, Jack and I, we got white coats with collars and mine had shrunk a bit. And I was going through the factory one day and he called me out he said, ‘What is that you’re wearing’. I said, ‘It’s my coat’, he said, ‘You look like a barber in it’, because it was very short and the sleeves were up here somewhere. ‘Oh we’ll have to get you some new ones’. So the firm had to come and measure me up.
And the other thing, because we were handling so much timber- most of it was what they call ‘planed’, smooth like that, you know. But some was off the saw, rough, and you’d get splinters. And I had gloves and I used to cut the fingers off – because look, big hands and you could never get them big enough, so I used to cut the tips off.
And he saw me one day, he said, ‘Why have you done that’? I said, ‘Oh you know, bloody you know – can’t get bloody gloves that are big enough for anybody’ – ‘Oh, soon sort that’. Next thing a chap, some bloke’s turned up – put your hand on this sheet of paper and he drew round. Off he went and next thing there’s about three pair of gloves turned up, big ones. That fit me.