Tuesday, 17 April 2012


I have just spotted an item up for auction on Ebay described as a steam boiler made by Gower of Bedford which has brought back some memories of my distant past.

Back in the 60’s I was employed for a while repairing plant machinery with a construction company – Lindum Lincoln. We had a request to attend a sick JCB digger which had been digging up the road in Bedford. When we arrived we found the “eye” on the end of one of the main hydraulic rams had broken away. Alf Richardson the welder (and landlord of The Swan pub at Astwood) who was with me remarked that he felt unable to repair the thing but knew a man that would.

Busted ram duly stowed in the back of our van, Alf drove us both to the ram repairer whose yard turned out to be between the new County Hall (or Black Diamond corner as it was then) and St. Johns railway station..

We pulled up outside a corrugated iron fenced compound in which I could see all sorts of archaic machinery, old tractors, steam engines, boilers et al. Going to the back doors of the van to pull out the ram Alf warned me “ Whatever you do, don’t swear, or we’ll be chucked of the premises”. Turns out that the proprietors were very, very religious. It also turned out that they were very skilled at engineering repairs that other business’s shied away from.

We were greeted by two men dressed mostly in leather with leather scull caps in a workshop that was straight out of the 17th century. Hard packed earth floor and machinery driven by lay shafts.

They took the ailing patient from us and two hours later we picked it up, healed, welded and whole again.

I had met the Gower brothers. They don't make 'em like that any more!!