Have you ever wondered about the unanswered mysteries of the Universe? I certainly have and I suspect most other people have too. Normally we rely on proposed theories by scientists, physicists and the like to satisfy our thirst for knowledge and to act as a method of partly slaking that thirst. We often accept theories as a sort of “half-way house” on the premise that some knowledge is better than no knowledge at all.

As the years rolled by, I increasingly found myself at odds with some theories or ideas simply on a gut feeling and “that does not sound right” basis. The time has finally come for me to throw my hat into the ring and express my thoughts. I have no scientific training but I do have reasonably high logistic skills tempered by a large dose of common sense. These qualities at least have enable me to think through some of the unanswered questions in life to my own personal satisfaction if nothing else.

Logic and common sense are probably the two qualities that led to the invention of the club, the spear and later on the wheel and the arrow, all of which helped mankind start on the technological path. These thoughts will cover issues like Time, Universe or Multiverse and so on. None of my thoughts are rabid or Eureka statements, they are simply the thoughts of an average guy in the street and the logical conclusions I have come to. Who knows, they might just satisfy some of the thoughts in your own mind.

As a disclaimer, I do not claim any of my thoughts are the correct or the exact answer to anything. They are simply my personal thoughts which I will now share with the world.

21 Responses

  1. brilliant Mick..I didnt know about this site until now. I look forward to visiting more often!


  2. Hi Mick
    Fascinating fire brigade stories. The Ronan Point one rang a particular bell. I can remember my dad coming home late from nightshift as he had been called out to that and had to stay until relieved. He spent his whole career in West Ham FB until GLC took over and then on until retirement. I think you must have served with him. He was Gwylim (Taffy) Jones.

  3. Hello Bryn, Yes I remember your father. There were two people I knew in WHFB named Jones and both were Station Officers. If I recall rightly your father was the O-I-C at Silvertown when I first met him on an outduty to that station. My first impression was the he had a very broad back compared to my relatively slender frame at that time. I would have been one of the crews that relieved your father at Ronan Point.

    I eventually changed to a different watch at Plaistow after which the opportunity of coming across your father became considerably less.

  4. That’s the one! I should think he only just qualified on height grounds but certainly was broad and well built! He spent most of his WHFB time at Silvertown so was I suspect was the brigade expert on ship fires as that seemed to be the bulk of the work although I recall that Tate and Lyle and the flour mills were also frequent “customers”. I used to think I knew all the firemen in the brigade as he used to talk the brigade and the people all the time. The only names I can recall now were Bert Croxford (sub officer?) and Chris Rumford who was a DO but was killed in a car crash in the early sixties. They were both family friends as well as colleagues. If you have a WHFB list I might recall a few more, although there was of course Dewany who dad was in awe of I recall.
    To add to your list of stories one I remember well is as follows. It was at Silvertown in the old station before the 60s rebuild .They of course in those days did their own cleaning and cooking. They were in the middle of cooking dinner (something with chips) when the bells went and off they went on the shout. Half way there they got a radio call to urgently return to the station: it was on fire! Anyway they got back and got the chip pan fire out without significant damage but the kitchen was completely smoke blackened. A plan was hatched and the van sent to the local paint factory which was a regular stop on fire prevention and hydrant checking rounds and sufficient paint was “liberated” to repaint the kitchen overnight before the next watch came on duty or any senior offices appeared. Luckily it was a quiet night with no more shouts!
    Life in the brigade was full of both funny and tragic stories and we lived through all of them.


  5. Hello again Bryn,

    I did know both Bert Croxford and Chris Rumford, as you say his sudden death was felt by all. I think was on the hill that leads from Brands Hatch. I did try recalling some more names from WHFB and it was surprisingly difficult. Apart from the names I remember there are others who I can picture but not recall their names and clearly those I cannot remember at all. It was however many years ago now.

    The names I do recall in no particular order from all over WHFB are,

    Bert Bottomley, Charlie Phillips, Don Eggleston, (there were 2 of them), Ray (Killer) Keans, Sid Latchford, John Darcy, Tom Roast, John Ruddle, Ted Erskine, George Fossett, Wally Baldock, Sid Goldsmith, Jim O’Harreron, Bill Davies, Jack Garner, Laurie Shelley, Jerry Brock, Bob Lonergan, Bert Freeman, Jim Docherty, Alan Carr, Tug Wilson, Bill Baker (DCO), Chopper Cutting (CO), we all called him sir of Chief, Jim Joned, Tobias (Toby), Fred Collins, Mackingtosh (Mac), Tommy Dodds, Spud Murphy.

    I have no douby many other will pop into my mind when I am not thinking about them, but all the above names are off the top of my head.

    I think Bert Croxford eventually got posted to Hornchurch when the GLC came into being.

  6. Some names I know but in particular chopper Cutting. You are right about the accident site I think as when I was at college in Brighton I used to drive that way from home (no m25 then!) and always thought about it and felt insecure. Another name I now remember was Frank Peck. He was virtually a full time mechanic between shouts repairing cars in the station yard. He once swopped out a rear axle on my car in about 4 hours while I waited. Lucky there were no calls or I would have been stuck.
    I used to take dad down most years to the annual reunion in Southwark until he got too frail. Did you used to go to that?
    I almost feel I was in the brigade looking back: it was certainly a major influence on my life even though I became an architect. My first major college design project was a fire station of course.

  7. Frank Peck I certainly recall now you mention him, Phil Symes and Bob Cavill are two other names I have now remembered. There was a workshops at Plaistow and Bob Cavill was always to be found in there making something or other. He was a skilled welder. I never did go to a re-union simply because I was unaware of them. I suppose because I carried on for 42 years in total my name never came up as a retired member.

  8. Hello Mick, my father Alan Cobb was in WHFB I think he was stationed at prince regents lane then went to the new station at Stratford. He operated a Merryweather turntable ladder 149 TAN or TAN 149. Jim O’Halloran has wrote a book called Arson About stories of what you lot got upto in the 60’s there are 3 copies for sale on Amazon if you haven’t got one.
    Regards Steve Cobb

    • Hello Steve,

      I knew your father although not that well. I was originally located at the old Stratford station before going to the Training Centre. The new station opened during my training in early 1964 and I was posted to Prince Regent Lane on my return. I met your father on a number of occasions when we did what were know as “out duties” to cover temporary deficiencies due o sickness or leave. When the G.L.C. came into being, both Plaistow and Stratford were placed in separate administrative areas which meant I never did an out duty there again. I remained at Plaistow for the whole of the operational side of my career. I do have a copy of Jim O’Halloran’s book and recently managed to make contact with him through FaceBook. Unfortunately Jim is not now a well man.

  9. hi Mick, Dave (Nobby) Clarke replying,glad to here your doing well and OK.I joined West Ham Fire Brigade with you .We all done our training at Southwark together,you,me,Kieth Camp,and Ian Richardson, We were classed as an out of area squad and joined up with other chaps from different Brigades,Croydon,Brighton, Wales etc,On passing out I was posted to White watch No.2 Station Prince Regent Lane Plaistow. Completed 32 years service retired in 1994 after reaching the dizzy hieghts of Sub.Officer.B.A. Instructor N.E.area. Married,with 4 boys and 10 grandchildren.And still living in Walthamstow.

    • Hi Dave, I never forgot you and still remember you if I think about West Ham days or sometimes our younger years as telegram boys. I did try looking you up on the internet in an attempt to see how you got on but unfortunately you have a very popular name which made that avenue of research almost impossible. I did 42 years in the end retiring seven years ago when I reached 60. Apart from being based operationally at Plaistow for 25 years as you possibly know I moved upward in union circles to become a member of the Regional Executive. When I retired operationally I became a Non-Op Sub in Health and Safety and later due to my computer skills, I was asked to go into PDA Section to devise and write a lot of advanced programs for them.

      The biggest program was to work out a method for accurately working out the quickest route from any point on the map in Greater London to any other point. This was years before Sat-Nav devices came along and did the same thing. Approving all street and building names within Greater London was also one of my tasks as was working out mobilising arrangements for the Control Room’s computers. Things like the London Marathon and State funeral proved a bit of a challenge.

      I eventually moved from Walthamstow to Somerset over 20 years ago. If I recall rightly, you used to live in Lea Bridge Road near Knotts Green.

      I also wonder what happened to all the other “Mergoes” at Forest Gate apart from Dave Butler and Ernie Paddon who eventually emigrated to Australia the rest are a mystery with the exception of small Freddie West?? He turned up on my doorstep one day as my new milkman.

      I still have the photograph of us all in the out-of-areas squad and if you want a copy, let me know and I will email it to you.

      If you use FaceBook there is a large retired LFB firefighters group on there many who you will probably know.

      I did also write a series of Walthamstow Memories articles on this site and the links to them can be found on the left column

      Congratulations on your large family, I suspect you might be something of a doting granddad. My memory is a little rusty on this point but was you courting someone name Kay?

  10. Hi Mick,good to hear from you and that you and your family are well.I retired in 1994 had a cuople of years out but the Mrs. did’nt retire with me,she is and still is a registered child minder.I still keep in contact with the Brigade as I do a lot of presentation retirement mounted axes.Most of my hobbies revolve around sharp tools carving chisels and knives etc.
    Due to the non compliance of small children and sharp and pointy things and the accumalation of sawdust the wife said Health and Safety regulations state that the two should not be in close contact with each other so I was therefore banished to the great outside world.
    Found employment with Leyton Siixth Form College(just round the corner) as a caretaker,and have been there ever since. I should have retired from there a couple of years ago but they had a massive building programme £40,000,0000 worth,and they’ve asked me stay on,as apparently I have lot of knowlege of the old buildinhgs which they have retained and blended in with the new.
    With reference to the old “Mergoes”the only one I managed to keep in contact with but albiet very briefly was John Nobby Hall ,I used to be involved in youth football coaching and refereeing and Johns son was in a team I used to train’
    I’m still living in Leabridge Road,We have been here for 45 years now,we thought of moving just after I left the Brigade,but as Family and friends are still local we decided to stay put,you never know one day we might move out to “the sticks
    Your memory serves you well the lady you mention who I was courting at the time Kay is my wife ,we married in 1967 and are still happily married,although I’ve been told you can’t be both.
    I would love to have a copy of the photograph,I was trying to remember the Sub.O Insructors name of our training squad? was it Foster, Forster,
    perhaps you can recal
    Best Wishes and hope to hear from you soon.Dave Clarke.

  11. Hi
    My name is George (davy) Crocker.
    i’ve just found your site and It has brought back a lot of memories .
    Mick you talked a recruitment process.I can remember trying and succeeding to carry some poor soul around the parade ground I think the watch was not able to find anybody who was 12st so I was struggling !,, with Somebody considerably overweight!,,
    In terms of age in starting your career I think I’ts me who holds the dubious record as the youngest recruit . I joined in August 1962 at 18 and a few days The first of a new generation! It was some time before any youngsters joined and I felt isolated . You have mentioned that the Local Authorities were not happy with the new lower age limit but on reflection some of the establishment also had problems with it. By the time younger recruits started to come through I had already decided to leave and to try a new career

    • Hello George, many thanks for your comment.

      You did not mention what brigade you joined but I suspect most ere similar in attitude to young 18 year olds in the 1960’s. I fully understand what about feeling isolated. Most firefighters tended to be ex-navy with a numbers of army. Ex-RAF were rare. However all had been through the military discipline mill during their national service and there were still numbers who had seen war service as well. Although most were more than willing to teach you the tools of the trade, when it came to questioning conditions of service or expressing self-opinion, they were things that did not go down too well. It was as if many had all independent thought driven from their mind.

      I suppose it was a good 10 years before the young guard like me started to become the older guard and did not question young people joining. A lot of the real old guard had retired by that time as well.

      Todays recruitment process is far different to what I experienced. Ever since the “London’s Burning” TV series started, the fire service was inundated with applications. Many do not get by the application form stage which in many cases leave a lot to be desired in terms of literacy. Many fail the entrance exams both physical and educational. The physical exams include exerting a certain pull/speed on a rowing type machine. I even have doubts if I would have passed that.

      Even those that do get successfully through all exams are not normally automatically employed but go onto a list which can be called on when vacancies occur. After a period of time the list is dissolved and anyone who has not been employed have to start the process all over again. A far cry from my time.

  12. Dear Sir,

    This is Nan-I Book, a textbook publisher from Taiwan. Recently I am planning a geography textbook project and highly interested in one of your photograph in Somerset. I would like to get your permission to use it in the textbook, which is to introduce Somerset. I’m looking forward to your kind reply. Thank you!

    Vico Li
    Nan-I Books Enterprise Co., Ltd.
    Tel: +886-2-2664-5500 ext.346
    E-Mail: aaddccs@gmail.com

  13. Hello Mick, I’m wondering. Do you have an email address so I can write to you about a past relative of yours please?

    Or you could email me it.

    Thank you

  14. Hello Mick,
    This is a long-shot response. I’m a Filmmaking student currently in the process of making a documentary about the Ronan Point partial collapse. I’m really interested to hear the recollections of those involved. I read on your blog that you worked on the disaster in your role with the fire brigade. My Grandparents and mother were living on the 18th floor at the time, but luckily for them the opposite corner to Ivy Hodge. So far I have spoken with former residents, locals, architects, engineers and a vicar who buried two of the four casualties. I would love to hear your views on the event. If you’d like to contribute your memories to the film please contact me.
    Ricky Chambers

  15. Hi Mick, I stumbled upon this site while looking for Fire Brigade photos. My Grandfather was a fireman and based at several stations in and around East London (usually F & L divisions) including Stratford and Leytonstone where he retired from in 77. His name was Tom Delahaye and wondered if you or any of your connections remember him or indeed have photos, many thanks Claire Rumble

  16. Hello Claire, Many thanks for your comment. I knew Tom Delahaye as I was a West Ham fireman myself and was the last West Ham firefighter to retire although by that time, West Ham had long been part of the London Fire Brigade. I am still in contact with a number of old time West Hammer’s and I certainly know one Don Eggleston remembers your grandfather as well. I do not have any photographs of Tom but I do have some pictures of Plaistow Fire Station. There is a possibility that your grandfather may be in one of the.

    • thanks for the reply Mick, ill have a closer look at the photo and see if I can see him.if there are any stories you can share it would be appreciated. I love hearing about grandfather, we have so many stories in the family but lovely to hear from people who remember him

      • Hello again Claire. This is another photograph I knew I had somewhere. Judging by the numbers of Firemen in in picture, it is probably all the West Ham Crews of one watch. I do not have a date for the picture but there are some faces I recognise. One of them sixth from right, front row is the man everyone knew as Chopper.His surname was Cutting and he was the Chief Officer of West Ham when it became part of the London Fire Brigade. Based on this alone, I would estimate the picture was probably taken in the early 1950’s.

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