Edgar Jessop plus next issue preview
Following the war, everything was in short supply; tyres, fuel, dunny paper. Out in Giggleswick, a dreary, damp little place with a perpetually grey sky, leaden with carbon particles and smog from the massive Spagforth Industrial Estate which was the town’s main employer, queues stretched from every shop; the arrival of a bread van was a cause for rejoicing and occasionally riots.
In fact, if there weren’t a queue from a shop, regardless of what it sold, locals would quickly form one in the belief that such an opportunity should not be lost. Fuel was in such critically short supply that cigarette lighters were regularly stolen and emptied of their combustible liquid. Engines were converted to run on everything from peat to fermented potatoes. Even bedsocks were boiled to extract toe jam which when mixed with sulphur, charcoal and potassium nitrate produced a substance that could be forced to explode within a combustion chamber. Despite the austerity, the export industry was so vital to Britain’s recovery that production had to be maintained regardless, and ingenious methods were instigated. Of course, the workforce had to find ways of getting to the place of employment, even though few owned motorised vehicles. Those who did formed ‘transport pools’ to ferry fellow workers to the various Spagforth factories, and here we see an example of the indomitable spirit that not just won the war, but allowed the nation to drag itself out of the post-conflict torpor and back to something resembling posterity. In the photograph, a Spagforth Squitter (running on a formaldehyde/nail polish remover mixture) steered by the foreman of the Spagforth Grundling department, Jack Rabbit, delivers personnel to their various divisions. At the vanguard of the human mass is Leroy de Lodger, chief test rider, behind him Edgar Stillskin from the upholstery section (whose task it was to trap stoats and cure the hides to be used in seats and saddles), with apprentice fumbler and tremle valve reamer Toby Jugg on his shoulders. Due to the continuous round-the-clock shifts, the process of personnel pick up and delivery would run non-stop, and in the evening the foremost individual would be required to carry a tray of flaming cotton waste to illuminate the road ahead, while shouting instructions to the rider, whose vision was obscured by the buttocks of the chap ahead of him. Eventually, the Spagforth Local Union of Manufacturing People (SLUMP) complained that the ageing Squitter was a dangerous device and a humiliating experience for its members, and the Spagforth directors purloined an exCrimean War Surplus Ghurkmobile Omnibus, which, when fully loaded, could carry up to 6,000 personnel, but only for very short periods and only with a strong tail wind.
RIGHT The Ghurkmobile Omnibus was capable of transporting up to 6,000 Spagforth workers at a time.
ABOVE Spagforth test rider Leroy de Lodger shouts instructions to pilot Jack Rabbit.