My Grandfather – Lift Engineer and Electrician.

My grandfather worked for a company based in Calvin Street, Shoreditch, East London. He spent most of his working life as a lift engineer / electrician in London. Pre and post WW2. Here he is in action, working on machinery that must now be very very old!

My Grandfather - Electrician
My Grandfather – Electrician

11 thoughts on “My Grandfather – Lift Engineer and Electrician.”

  1. Malcolm see your post is 2014.I am an ex print engineer (not newspaper) and my dad was a machine minder on Fish Island Poplar who ran a Heidelberg Cylinder Press, printing, cutting and creasing for decades up until 1988. Your father looks to me as if he is at the rear end of a Heidelberg Platen also known as the windmill because of the way it ran. Most decent print companies in London where I worked visiting many many of these places used Heidelberg’s and in the 1980s could still be seen working. YouTube will have a Platen for you to see in action. The machine was operated from the opposite end to where you dad is sitting. The box above his head may be an isolator switch box and is not open so presume he is working on the clutch/brake area. The lift company he may have worked at could be Waygood Otis. Nearly every building I visited had these and it sticks in my mind because my old council flats in Hackney and most London offices back in the day also used WO lifts. Jarrolds Print Museum has one I think in Norwich. 01603 677183

    1. Hello Dave, thank you for the interesting comment. I expect you are correct, my grandfather was always talking about various printing factories he regulatory visited. Probably wasn’t a printers, laundry or a brewery he hadn’t visited in his line of work. A very busy electrician in his day.

      Best Regards, Malcolm

  2. I grew up in Bethnal Green, i was working as an electrician in the local area but not that long ago. The area has changed so much now. I love the old pictures that looks like a really old piece of machinery.

  3. Hi Malcolm, just seen the photo of your Grandfather Frank. I was his apprentice for about two years of my apprenticeship. He taught me so much and I remember him so well. When he lived at Kings Cross he took any night phone calls. When he moved to Ilford I helped him fit a new bath. I lived in Dagenham at the time. Loved the photo of Frank working in a print shop. Much of our work was in the print industry. I worked most of my life after leaving Macdonald Syers in the Press. Any more photos would be great thanks for this one. Roy Parker

    1. Hello and thank you so much for getting in touch. I always remember my grandfather telling me about the print presses and the breweries, oh and Drings sausages! He was a great influence on me and at age 16 I left school and went on to be a mechanical aircraft engineer with British Airways for 21 years.

      Even to this day I still have a healthy interest in all things electro-mechanical. Frank passed away in 2007 in Leigh-on-Sea aged 91. He retired to Essex around 1981.
      Sadly I don’t think I have any more photos of Frank at work, plenty of him and the family of course!

        1. Malcolm Oakley

          Thanks for your comment! I always remember my grandfather talking about the factory, he often worked there (he was an electrical and lift engineer)

  4. How interesting Malcolm and nice to see a photo.

    My Step Father was also a Life Engineer working in London. Not sure which part – I know during his early working years he worked in some very posh shops in the West End. His apprenticeship was with Otis. He went on to work for Kone Marryat and Scott and then later Tyssens before retiring.

    It didn’t however restore my faith in lifts though and I always use the stairs!

  5. Couldn’t agree more, Im originally from Bow in East London and the values of the past were truly great but if Im in the area I cant help to just drive around for a while to see how it has developed over the years and what shops and bars have withstood that change like the salmon and bull in Bethnal Green

    1. My biggest regret is not talking to my Grandfather more when he was still alive, about what life was like. He was born in 1916 and saw some great changes in East London. Just wish he had been someone who took photos at work but of course people didn’t really back then.

      Thanks for reading the blog, best wishes.

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