REPORT ON REUNION 2012
In a year that has consistently seen extremes of weather that many of us cannot remember experiencing before, we were fortunate to enjoy good weather for our reunion in September. As has become practice the ‘Advance Party1 enjoyed one another’s company as they drifted in on Friday afternoon, each new arrival being met with smiles, waves, handshakes and hugs.
The following morning dawned bright and sunny and one of Mr Johnsons’ shiny new coaches arrived to take us to the Jewellery Quarter Museum in Birmingham, Rather like the proverbial tardis – an unexceptional mid terrace house outside, a jewellery factory, museum and cafe inside! But first for the good news. The weekend of our visit fell in the city’s Heritage Week so our tour of the museum would be free! The only charge – £1.75 for coffee and biscuits.
The family run business had operated for eighty years with no modernisation of working practices and scant regard for ‘Health and Safety’. When the owners wanted to retire none of their family members wanted to take the business on and they couldn’t sell it as it was so in 1981 they ceased trading, locked the door and handed the keys to Birmingham City Council. Our guides were characters with magnificent humour. As one explained, “the council sprang into action and eight years later looked inside to see what they had got”. It was a veritable time capsule! Apart from letters, papers and records going back to the turn of the last century, grubby overalls hung on the coat hooks and dirty teacups had been abandoned alongside jars of Marmite and jam on the shelves. An alarming find was Potassium Cyanide – looking very much like sugar – left over from the electro-plating processes!
One eye-opener was a description of the procedures taken to recover every possible scrap and grain of precious metals during the working day. Too long to describe here: sufficient to say that any worker turning up for work with Brylcream on his hair or turn ups on his trousers was immediately sent home!
After our tour of the factory and a look through the museum we left to find lunch and explore the area. But first we saw that friends of the cemetery just across the road were having a fund-raising day with the local Air Cadet Force band in attendance. Several of our (lady) members could not resist having their photographs taken on the saddle of a Triumph motorcycle powered hearse. A monster with a 2,3 Litre engine!
The Jewellery Quarter itself was an also an eye opener with jewellery shops, wholesalers, manufacturers and a training college for jewellery workers all within a short walking distance. Rather expensive for some husbands!
At the Hilton we were joined by the rear party including our Guest of Honour, Colonel (Retired) Terry Canham, The Regimental Secretary. He soon spotted some well known faces and was deep in conversation when we were called to dinner. After dinner he gave us a rather depressing summary of the cuts that are planned for the corps including the abolition of the post of Signal Officer-in-Chief but, as he pointed out, we have escaped more lightly than other branches of the Army.
The formalities of the Annual General Meeting were soon over. Committee members were re-elected en block, the Financial Statement approved and no Other Business had been proposed.
Unusually our President and Mrs Maxfield were not with us as Margaret was just finishing a course of medical treatment. Members signed a Get Well card for her and we received a nice letter of thanks in response.