Memories of Spedan

Following a request in Connections, this is one of the responses we received. It contains the personal views of the writer and we include it here without comment:


Dear Judy

Your request in “Connections” – Did you know Spedan (Lewis)?

You probably will not like what I am going to write, but it is the truth and happened!

I joined A H Bull in January 1947 after five years in the Army. I should have gone back to Truro to open my family’s antiques business. It had been closed during the war. I had married my lovely girlfriend and we had acquired a small bungalow and I stayed in Reading.

I was made up to section manager of Carpets, Furniture and Bedding very soon after joining and I was told and expected to run the Carpet department under the overall manager, a Mr Y[….]. Mr Y was one of the finest managers I’ve ever worked with – I never wanted to be a manager with all the worries – such as now with decreasing trade and especially as the Partnership’s allowed me to run an antiques business.

Mr Y was a Strong Character, smart looking and very confident. He was more than pleased with my efforts in the department, and in my opinion if he had stayed in the Partnership he would have most certainly been a general manager or even managing director. These things, I’m afraid, did not happen because of Spedan.

Spedan visits A H Bull accompanied with his directors whose names we have read a thousand times.

I was in the Carpet section looking busy with my two juniors and arranging one of the displays when S pointed us and, according to someone near him, he said, “What are they talking about? Horses!” Very strange, don’t you think?

He then noticed a small ticket lying on a table. The ticket said ‘Household event’. S enquired from the general manager who was with them who called Mr Y across to explain it.

Mr Y said that it had just come out of the window (it must have been a Monday) as the event finished on Saturday night. S wanted to know from Mr Y why it had not been taken out of the window on Saturday night. Mr Y explained that the window dressers did not work on Saturdays and they were the only ones allowed in the windows. S blew his top and said in front of others that Mr Y had failed in his duties and he would be hearing about it. (He should have removed it from the window.)

A couple of weeks after Mr Y was told that he was going to be transferred and demoted (to a smaller branch). I cannot remember if he went to the other branch but left the Partnership on his own accord, taking up the position of Buyer in a Bournemouth departmental store. (He wanted me to join him as manager of the department but did not do so – I liked the Partnership in spite of Mr S.)

Mr Y (about 40) had a very nice wife and two sons who had settled in to a good school in Reading.

They went with their parents to Bournemouth and when they were young men one of them was in a car accident (caused by the other person) and killed. I then asked myself the question, would he still be alive today except for the actions of S over a silly little ticket!

You can see how I feel – Mr and Mrs Y are still living but not at all well!


PS, I should have mentioned that Mr Y had very strong features and a DK GINGER moustache and eyebrows. With Spedan, like father, like son – ? We have heard many times how John Lewis would sack anyone in his shop who had ginger hair. I’ve heard the story many times that they hid the ginger person under the counter??

I was at Odney on a Shopkeeping Course under Mr Pennel and Miss Harrop. One day I went for a walk and saw a lot of chicks in a wire netting surround. An old gent came up and also looked at them. I asked him if he knew anything about them and he said, “Yes, they’re being reared to be shot but not for much longer!” I was later told that S was in Odney that day and had been over to see the pheasant chicks!

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