Wales and Edward Engineers
This is a summary of a conversation I had with Dennis Maddocks in November 2007. He recalled he joined Wales and Edwards as an apprentice in 1941 aged 15.
He started by working an eight hour day for five and a half days per week and then on 1st March 1942 Dennis was 16 and was required to work a twelve hour day from 8am to 8pm, and because of this he got an extra 4oz of cheese ration per week.
Morris House, at the bottom of Wyle Cop, was where petrol and cars were sold, serviced and repaired. The showroom had a feature concave window where the cars were displayed. W & E had a Morris and Wolseley agency.
In 1942 the garage was split in two with one division concentrating on essential car users and these included Doctors, Vets and Farmers who had to have a Certificate of Need to Buy Spares in order to get their cars serviced.
Dennis was transferred to the Military Vehicle Division and he worked on Morris 15 cwt Quads or Mobile workshops. The vehicles were stripped down across the road at the Barge Garage and then taken to the unit shop on an electric truck driven by Mrs Betty Parsons.(more about electric trucks later)
The stripped down units, engines, gearboxes, back axels and all mechanical components were rebuilt to a very high standard. Then taken back to the Barge for assembly with the bodywork and delivered to the army.
An REME officer from Bicester visited the company and stated that the men preferred the reconditioned units as they were more reliable than new units from the factory.
A few vehicle survive in the hands of collectors and this is a photograph from the Devon branch of the Military Vehicle Trust.
Rob Millers 1943 Morris C8/P A/T
OTHER WAR WORK
The Zephyr Engineers were based at the back of the garage at the bottom of Wyle Cop behind a specially constructed brick wall that had been built to isolate the area which was accessed from the Tanners car park
This group worked on parts and spares for the Spitfire which I suggest were delivered to Castle Bromwich in Birmingham where the aeroplanes were assembled.
Mrs Maddocks recalled that near Lord Hill`s Column behind the White Horse another group worked on parts for the Spitfire and other contemporaries remember wings and tails being worked on near the bus station in Ditherington.
During the war a number of Italians were interned and worked at W & E. These included Dominic Sidoli who worked on the military division and another Italian Julio Ramponi, had previously worked for Ferrari and was a brilliant engineer, when he ground bearings they were done so closely that pressure gauges blew.
POST WAR and THE RISE OF THE MILK FLOAT
Well into the 1950`s horses were being used for delivering goods and daily supplies of Bread and Milk to households around the Country but horses were becoming expensive to maintain and they could not work all day without rest.
Mervyn Morris designed a battery operated electric vehicle in the Barge Garage and this evolved into a milk delivery vehicle. The first order was delivered to Roddington Dairy early in 1951.
The company moved manufacturing to Harlescott and wiring harnesses were supplied by Hartleys in Monkmoor.
The company continued to make electric vehicles in Harlescott until the late 1970`s.
A number of the vehicles are still in use in and around Shrewsbury today September 2006 by various dairy companies
A float with an H registration 1969 being recharged during January 2007 at Shropshire Dairies Shrewsbury
Some of the fleet of floats lined up at the recharging bays in the garage in Shrewsbury.
The W & E letters can be seen at the front under the telephone number.
More photographs and a W & E Brochure are available from www.milkfloats.org.uk
For Pictures of various Wales and Edwards milk floats check out www.milkfloats.org.uk/random3.html
I would be delighted to receive an update from people involved with this business please call me on 01743 363202 during office hours.