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Watchmaking (inc. Errington's and Watch it!)

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dutchman
Spon End
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1 of 181  Sun 27th Nov 2011 5:09pm  
Member: Joined Mar 2010  Total posts:3052

Lexor factory, Duke Street This black & white picture doesn't anywhere near do justice to the glorious floral display which framed the factory in the 1960s and 1970s. Despite a legal conservation order almost everything in this picture is now gone except for the former watchmaker's house fronting onto Allesley Old Road (extreme right) which is now just a burnt out shell! Sad There was a plan at one time to build a block of three storey houses similar in outline to the former workshops but planning permission expired before the plot could be sold. In my opinion they were impractical in any case. For one thing the master bedroom would have been on the top floor whilst the only bathroom was on the ground floor!
Watchmaking (inc. Errington's and Watch it!)
NeilsYard
Coventry
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2 of 181  Sun 27th Nov 2011 5:16pm  
Member: Joined Aug 2010  Total posts:1520

I've been thinking for years that house is going to be restored but still to no avail Dutchman. What did Lexor make?
Watchmaking (inc. Errington's and Watch it!)
K
Somewhere
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3 of 181  Sun 27th Nov 2011 5:35pm  
Member: Joined Nov 2011  Total posts:571

Lexor made mainly delay lines - electronic circuits that were used in radar, sonar, colour TV studios (for equalising camera cable lengths), etc., etc. I worked for Lexor from 1970-73, in the back bedroom of the house at no 4 Allesley Old Rd. I went into the Duke St offices many times, and at that time, the offices were quite smart, as dutchman says. I don't think the greenhouse was there then - indeed, I don't ever remember it being there, so I guess that's quite an old photo. Lexor had three premises on Allesley Old Rd, and the production was sited in the factory at 69 Hearsall Lane, which previously had been Bramcotes Mechanical Handling Ltd. Lexor was started in 1959 by three ex GEC Telephone Works people; Jim Pledger, ex-Aerials Group; Jay Lucas, ex- Sales; and Ralph Treadwell, an accountant. Initially, production was in the long top floor of the back workshop at No 4. (Downstairs was a dental mechanic) Jim Pledger always parked hi car close by in Allesley Old Road; he first had a Mk III Zodiac Estate (which had so many driving lights fitted, my brother christened it "The Light Car"!) and later a Mk IV Zodiac Executive Estate. Jim was into gadgets - couldn't resist any gadget - and had modified both cars so much no-one else would drive them if at all possible - especially the Mk IV would always overheat when anyone else drove it - the thermostatic controlled (home-made) electric radiator blind always stuck! Indeed, when Jim got the Mk IV, someone else bought the Mk III. It had an electric fault develop, and he took it to Rugby Autocar. It was so far out of standard, Rugby Autocar rang and said they couldn't fix it, and could they fit a complete new harness!! Jim was also a mad practical joker, and I had three very, er, "interesting" years there. Big grin He lived at Cubbington in one of the only two houses for miles around, and he had the "neighbour from Hell". If anyone is interested, I'll recount the story. Thumbs up
Watchmaking (inc. Errington's and Watch it!)
dutchman
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4 of 181  Sun 27th Nov 2011 5:35pm  
Member: Joined Mar 2010  Total posts:3052

On 27th Nov 2011 5:16pm, NeilsYard said: I've been thinking for years that house is going to be restored but still to no avail Dutchman.
It's 'Stanley Terrace' all over again. Wait until the building (and its neighbour) become a health hazard and then demolish them on public safety grounds.
On 27th Nov 2011 5:16pm, NeilsYard said: What did Lexor make?
Keith can tell you more accurately than me but as far as I remember it was domestic electrical fittings. There was second factory in Hearsall Lane and the only communication between the two was a long walk uphill and down dale via a footpath which runs alongside the Hearsall Inn.
Watchmaking (inc. Errington's and Watch it!)
K
Somewhere
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5 of 181  Sun 27th Nov 2011 5:38pm  
Member: Joined Nov 2011  Total posts:571

Hi dutchman We normally walked down to the corner of Hearsall Lane, and then up the hill. Great when it was raining. Lexor never made anything for the domestic market (that was another outfit up the road). For a time they got into other things, like Audio-visual training systems, but it wasn't at all successful.
Watchmaking (inc. Errington's and Watch it!)
dutchman
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6 of 181  Sun 27th Nov 2011 7:12pm  
Member: Joined Mar 2010  Total posts:3052

Don't know if you remember it Keith but what is now a hole in the ground between Lord Street and Mount Street was once also a row of imposing watchmakers houses. One of them, near the corner of Lord Street not far from Lexor, was used as an electrical and radio shop by a middle-aged Polish gentleman. The entire row was demolished in the early 1970s and replaced by a filling station / convenience store which my dad (believe it or not) thought was an improvement! Oh my That in turn is now gone and the whole site left derelict for some years now.
Watchmaking (inc. Errington's and Watch it!)
K
Somewhere
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7 of 181  Sun 27th Nov 2011 7:31pm  
Member: Joined Nov 2011  Total posts:571

Yes, I remember it well - I think it was later than that, because it was still intact when I finished at Lexor in 73. My God, you're trying to drive me to drink! Oh my Sad Seems to me that if the authorities in Coventry care so little for its history, they might as well bulldoze the lot and cover it in even more 'plastic' boxes.
Watchmaking (inc. Errington's and Watch it!)
dutchman
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8 of 181  Sun 27th Nov 2011 8:56pm  
Member: Joined Mar 2010  Total posts:3052

Something you don't get from photographs or indeed from driving past is a sense of just how imposing these watchmakers houses were from street level. There were steps up to the front door and the ceilings inside were also very high, at least in the front rooms. The back rooms were sometimes a bit cramped to allow a third storey to be added within the same overall height. Sadly most of those which survive are now care homes with ramps in place of steps or else converted to bedsits. The basic idea in both cases is to cram as many occupants as possible into the available space to maximise profits.
Watchmaking (inc. Errington's and Watch it!)
K
Somewhere
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9 of 181  Mon 28th Nov 2011 11:20am  
Member: Joined Nov 2011  Total posts:571

In No 4, the ceilings were at least 10 feet up (upstairs) and I guess downstairs the principal rooms were probably higher, but they were close to us. I think there was a cellar, too, and also a large attic. They were jerry-built, though, very poor quality. Which I guess fits with the Chapelfields area being built in one go in 1845. I think the Earlsdon houses built at the (more or less) same period were probably better built. Compared with a lot of the poky old places around Thomas St and North St they must have seemed like heaven! As well as steps up, many had a raised front yard, too; made them look even more imposing. BTW - do you remember the gents' hairdresser's, Les Stanton? His shop was along there too, wasn't it?
Watchmaking (inc. Errington's and Watch it!)
dutchman
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10 of 181  Mon 28th Nov 2011 12:18pm  
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On 28th Nov 2011 11:20am, KeithLeslie said: BTW - do you remember the gents' hairdresser's, Les Stanton? His shop was along there too, wasn't it?
I honestly wouldn't have done Keith but for his sign and barber's pole still being there! It reminds me a lot of the erstwhile radio shop with the high steps up to the front door.
Watchmaking (inc. Errington's and Watch it!)
K
Somewhere
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11 of 181  Mon 28th Nov 2011 1:02pm  
Member: Joined Nov 2011  Total posts:571

Interesting photos, but sad, both. In Lexor, when you went up those steep stairs and turned right, that was into the main office containing Personnel. I think Jay Lucas, the MD, had his office in another room beyond. The top floor was Accounts, where Ralph Treadwell, company secretary, was sited. Terrific view from up there! I told the story of someone looking up those steep stairs on a hot day, and one of the office girls going up them in a 'baby doll' style dress, was obviously going commando. So he went up, straight into Personnel and complained! Not exactly sporting, methinks!!Lol We had the office party at Christmas in that office. Jim Pledger's wife bought him a brass cannon to put on his desk, in, as I remember, 1972. He had it bored out, and a touch hole made, and then proceeded to make some gunpowder. Several times, in No 4, he fired it, using a bit out of Burgess engraver as a projectile. When it was time for the party, he took the cannon with him, having put a rather larger charge in it. When he fired it - in the party - the barrel split, and he lost the engraving bit, which buried itself in the wooden partition at the top of the stairs. He was a dangerous so-and-so to be anywhere near! Anyway, there was some gunpowder left, and it was in a lid off an aerosol, on the bench in my room at No 4. Jay Lucas came in, in the early new year, with his usual cigarette in a long holder, and beaming, said "Never anywhere for smokers in this b---y place, James!" Jim pushed the aerosol lid forward, and he was just about to flick the ash in, looked and said "No, I don't think I will..." JP dipped a hot soldering iron in it, and a two-foot flame shot up.... As I said, a dangerous person to be anywhere near - and I had three years working for, and very close to, him!! Oh my
Watchmaking (inc. Errington's and Watch it!)
K
Somewhere
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12 of 181  Mon 28th Nov 2011 1:38pm  
Member: Joined Nov 2011  Total posts:571

Incidentally, just to add a little. Jim Pledger was ex-Aerials Group in the Trunk Radio Lab at Telephone Works. When I was there, working in the next section, I rapidly realised that they were as mad as hatters. One tried to get me up the aerial tower one day, and I said I wouldn't go above the first platform, about 40 feet up. "It's quite safe, come on up!" No way mate! I watched them working, without safety harness, on a six-inch wide plank, 150 feet up at the top. Nothing, but nothing, would have got me up there - I may be a lot of thing,s but, unlike them, I wasn't crazy!! Lol
Watchmaking (inc. Errington's and Watch it!)
K
Somewhere
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13 of 181  Tue 6th Dec 2011 11:58am  
Member: Joined Nov 2011  Total posts:571

I was wondering if there is anything left of the premises that were used by the company that made Coventry Astral clocks - originally the watchmaking firm of Charles Hutton Errington, later bought by Williamson's? (Who in their turn were bought by Smiths, the Astral name used in their product line, and the production moved elsewhere) Errington's was a quite famous name, so should be remembered in Coventry. I have an Edwardian Astral clock, obviously from the Williamson's period, so about 1918-20, of very high quality, unlike many of the products that later bore the name. Here is the Coventry Astral logo:
Watchmaking (inc. Errington's and Watch it!)
K
Somewhere
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14 of 181  Thu 22nd Dec 2011 1:48pm  
Member: Joined Nov 2011  Total posts:571

I have found out that Errington's factory was at No 8 Allesley Old Road. Is that still there? If it is there ought to be a blue plaque on it too, for such a renowned maker.
Watchmaking (inc. Errington's and Watch it!)
dutchman
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15 of 181  Thu 22nd Dec 2011 2:29pm  
Member: Joined Mar 2010  Total posts:3052

There is Keith but the entire street was renumbered at some stage and it is now No49 on the corner of Lord Street opposite the Nursery Tavern Smile
Watchmaking (inc. Errington's and Watch it!)

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