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THE BLACK COUNTRY MEMORIES CLUB

OUR MEETING 23RD AUGUST 2001 Page 3

There were a lot of people at the meeting who had once worked at the old MEB offices in Major Street.  There is a more detailed story of The Major Street Offices here, but here are some of the characters and some of the story.

We have to start with Albert Aston, whose is the oldest of all the MEB people.  He was born on 6th November 1903 and so was nearly 98 when he came to the meeting with his niece's husband.  As soon as he left school he walked into an engineering company in Owen Road and asked if they had a job.

They told him to come in and start work.  He was with them for three years, including their move to Fourth Avenue.  In 1920, at the age of 17, he started work with the old Corporation Electricity Department (which, in 1948 became part of MEB). 
  Albert Aston He worked in the meter room at Red Lion Street, which was where the Department had its main works, just opposite the Fire Station.   But the main part of his first job there was when he and the others lads had to collect meters from Townwell Fold, where they were stored, and carry them through town to Red Lion Street. 

 Albert then went on to servicing meters and outdoor work.  Red Lion Street was eventually sold off as the premises were too small and the whole operation moved to Tipton.  Albert ended up as Foreman of Repairs and Testing, retiring in 1969 at the age of 65. 
     
These are MEB men of a younger generation.  On the left is John Hughes (who had a large display of his photos of the old Black Country) who was an Installation Inspector.  Next to him is Derek Blount who started work, aged 14, at Clarence Street, just before the MEB took over from the Corporation. 

He became a Foreman Electrician and was also a shop steward. Second from the right is Cyril Jones who worked at Major Street from 1954 to 1974 and was the Stores Controller.
Since 1966 he has been a JP on the Wolverhampton bench and is now Wolverhampton's longest serving JP. 
The younger MEB Generation He was also a Labour councillor on Wolverhampton Council from 1960 to 1970, representing Low Hill and then Eastfield.  Standing on the far right (in photographc terms, not political) is Tom Larkin. 

Tom was a Labour councillor in Bilston and Wolverhampton for many years and he and Cyril were both union reps at Major Street, at first with NALGO (a hang over from the old local government days) but leading the move away to APEX.
Sheila McTaggart  John Hughes and Mike Cartwright
Sheila McTaggart  brought a photo of an MEB cricket team.  (photo right)

She is shown on the left with John Hughes and Mike Cartwright, trying to identify the people in it.

They did not know the men in the white coats, nor the three players on the left of the back row. But the other three in the back row are, from left to right: Graham Grice, Chris Bould, Phil Tong. In the front row, from left to right, are: Colin Pugh, Ray Jenks, Arthur Hodgkiss, Howard Hodgkiss - and one more whose name no one could quite remember.
Cricket Team
 
In the last but definitely not least category is Neville Baker, (who came to the meeting the day before he set off for Australia for six months.) one of the engineers at Major Street, Neville told us that the MEB was created in 1947 and took over from the Corporation (and other local suppliers) in 1948.

The MEB's main task at the start was to create one set of standards, one standard voltage for supply, and one set of regulations. These would all replace all the local variations and comply with the national standards being introduced.

The Major Street premises were built in 1960 on the site of the old Midland Tar Distilleries.  All of their works were completely cleared but it seems that some tar remained in the ground and in a very hot spell in the summer of 1961 some of it bubbled to the surface. 
Neville Baker
The premises were used as the Wolverhampton offices and depot, so it was a large administrative centre, servicing took place there and the stores were there. 

Eventually the offices were vacated in 1982 but the stores and depot were still used for some time after that.  The reason the offices were moved was that in 1982 all the administration for the Wolverhampton, Walsall and Cannock areas were merged and moved to Walsall. 

In 1991 there was a further merger and everyone then at Walsall, together with the offices at West Bromwich, Dudley and Kingswinford, went to Tipton. 

That's the end of the story of our August 2001 meeting.  There were many other people there and many other things to see.  Sorry we do not have room for everything.  Come to the next meeting and see for yourself!

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