Allen West Ltd

Photo:This is the Lewes Road Office Staff Football Team in the 1940's  Back Row (LtoR)---  ?- Harwood- Ginger?  Centre Row (LtoR)---Stoner-Christmas-Divall-Russell  Bottom Row (LtoR)---Claridge-Hammond-?-Wingham - Click on the image to open a larger version in a new window

This is the Lewes Road Office Staff Football Team in the 1940's Back Row (LtoR)--- ?- Harwood- Ginger? Centre Row (LtoR)---Stoner-Christmas-Divall-Russell Bottom Row (LtoR)---Claridge-Hammond-?-Wingham - Click on the image to open a larger version in a new window

From the private collection of Desmond Divall

Memories 1942 to 1945

By Desmond (Dicky) Divall

75p for a week's work

My first memories after leaving school are of starting work at Allen West, Lewes Road offices in 1942, where I began as office boy at a salary of 15 shillings & 2 pence (Today’s 75p), for a five and a half day working week. I worked in the Sales & Estimating office; my task was to sort various order documents of customer requirements passed to me from the salesmen. These were sorted into other departments and workshops, ready for distribution to Lewes Road, Coombe Road, or Moulsecoomb factory sites.

Office personnel

My immediate manager was Mr R. Pullen,who died a short after I began my job,and a Mr A. Anthony took over. The entire office was managed by Mr J. Hall and Director Mr P.C. Jones, in their own sub offices. A large area in the department contained the Order Filing Section, the domain of Miss Newry and her junior young lady filing clerks.

Wartime security measures

At this time, WWII security was vital and all employees were issued with identity passes which could be examined by gatekeepers and special policemen on entry to the various factory sites. Later the passes were replaced by identity lapel badges bearing the letters L, C, or M to mean the Lewes Rd., Coombe Rd. or Moulsecoomb factories.

A wartime fatality

I well remember a gatekeeper and policeman at the Dewe Road factory entrance being killed by the crash of an aircraft, following an air collision of friendly aircraft. Brighton and South Coast areas were raided several times by Nazi 'Hit and Run' aircraft which flew across the Channel from their bases in France. To warn of these attacks observers were based on tops of high buildings; they operated local sound 'Pips'. One observer was based on the top of Coombe Road factory. All factories had their individual air raid shelters, and my particular one was situated in a Home Guard Blockhouse at the Lewes Road works.

Wartime products produced

Luckily the factories were not attacked, but I can remember seeing a deactivated bomb displayed in the palatial directors' boardroom. Allen West produced many products used in wartime, both in WWI and WWII. In WWI there was the Mills Bomb Grenade and in WWII there was the naval ship deguassing gear to counteract the Nazi magnetic sea mines; control pillars for use with anti-aircraft predictors; submarine ventilation fan switchgear; seaport crane gear controllers; brake switchgear and numerous electric motor starters for wartime production factories.

Recruited to the RAF

At about 1943 I was promoted to Junior Salesman to Replace Mr B. Cole who was recruited to the RAF. So after training my replacement junior, I worked as salesman dealing with product repairs, reason gear and HT line gear until I too was recruited to the RAF in 1945; I returned to Allen West in 1948.

You can download a Word document which lists departments and their personnel below.

This page was added on 01/05/2013.
Comments about this page

An interesting page Dick. I recognised you in the middle row. I still see Jim Sharp and Arthur Elsey regularly, and I often run into Clive Robson in Sainsburys car park.

By Ron James (11/05/2013)

Good to hear from you Ron James. Still a few of the old AW's about, just a bit creaky now Anno Domini & all that. Quite a few names omitted from my memories page, and I cannot download the mentioned 'List of Personnel at AW'. Please give my best regards to Jim, Arthur, and Clive when you see them.

By Desmond (Dicky) Divall (19/05/2013)

Hello Dick. Good to hear from you after all this time. I don't see too many of our old colleagues now although I regularly see David Greenfield for a few beers. He is still seeing Geoff Brooker, Jim Stenning & Doug Birch. I think they meet once a month. Some of the AW members meet once a month at the Swan, Falmer & I am intending to go there. I found your article very interesting and I am considering doing something similar. I have many lists of names including all of the draughtsmen!

By Peter Guy (22/05/2013)

Hi! Peter, good to hear from you too. Please give my best to Dave, Geoff, Jim and Doug, too few of us left now eh? At Xmas I still send best wishes to John Lewis's Family, Joyce, Mick, Sue and Richard, also to Dick Foord, and Ted Pond. Often wish I was nearer to Brighton to meet up with old colleagues to remember old times. Good job we've got the internet. I hope to add more memories soon of my time between my return to AW from the RAF and my retirement, must to get working on this soon. All the best! Dicky Divall.

By Desmond (Dicky) Divall (22/05/2013)

Does anyone remember my dad Don Simons? He was a draughtsman and met my mum Barbara, who I believed worked in the typing office?

By Lisa Lemcke (28/06/2013)

Hello Lisa. Yes, I remember Don very well. I started in the drawing office in 1961 and remember that he was there then. He smoked a lot and had the biggest ashtray in the office. It used to be full at the end of the day and he would empty it before going home. In the 1980s he was one of a group of six draughtsmen working on switchboard contracts. Others were Peter Carvell, Albert Rea, Denis Marston, Mick Emmett and Jim Stenning. Don left in about 1988 and I left in 1991.

By Peter Guy (17/07/2013)

Thanks Peter, the only name I recognise is Jim Stenning. Unfortunately Dad passed away in 2005. Funny about the smoking, he gave up 'cold turkey' after needing surgery for an aneurysm. After that he enjoyed pretty good health. Did you know my mum?

By Lisa Lemcke (15/08/2013)

Sad to report Jim Skinner, 2nd on right, front row passed away August 2002, my brother-in-law.

By Frank Piner (16/08/2013)

I didn't work at Allen West but sure I knew Dicky Divall. And Ted Pond - did you live next door to Mr Doubles the grocer in Hollingbury Road? I was known then as Alma Stevens and lived with Mrs Norman at No 5.

By Mrs Stevie Hobbs (18/08/2013)

Anyone remember the horse-shoeing that was done in the Open Market, I believe in the Baker Street area? If anyone in Moulsecoomb remembers me (Sylvia Watts back then), I'd love to hear from any of my school pals: sylviastickel@gmail.com

By Sylvia Stickel in Canada (19/08/2013)

I wondered whether anybody recalled Gerald Stanning, a WWI veteran and later Works Manager at Allen West & Company who was awarded the MBE in June 1943? (N.B. Not the same man as a Jim Stenning in the list of personnel). I'm currently researching his military service and later life so any information or a photo would be much appreciated. steve@greatwarmedals.co.uk       

By Steve (08/01/2014)

Message for Peter Guy. Hi Pete, Steve Fernell here. Long time no see. If you fancy getting together for a beer at any time let me know. Contact me on stevefernell@gmail.com

By Steve Fernell (17/04/2016)

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