Work in 1927 continued and Frank Wigley, Nora's adopted brother, joined me in my stained glass work. Out of work, Clarrie Mac often used to come into the workshop and help me when I was experimenting with making a kiln for glass work. Dad had now used up his materials and the photographic trade became non-existent, so I took over his side of the workshop paying him a weekly rent when he retired after fifty years as a photographer. I was continually drawing and designing for stained and painted glass work and eventually had a kiln for firing the paint on with a different type of gas fired kiln.
This proved to be very inefficient and wasteful so I then built one much larger with firebricks and a chamber about three feet by two feet which was a copy of the one used at the works where I learned the trade. This was a great success and I was soon to use it for the firing of stained glass of all kinds. At this period I was still working on door panels for the many council houses that were very much in demand. After hearing about my new furnace (kiln), I was approached by a friend to fire some of his work. This was Mr Tom Stokes, a well known Midland artist, who had at one time taught in the West Bromwich School of Art. He used to do the designing and painting of windows at the Evans firm where I first met him. He was working freelance for them and if I got any orders he would do the same for me. From him I learned much knowledge and know-how of the art and craft of stained glass. Although the work I did for and with him was a dead loss to me financially I am eternally grateful for the knowledge which I gained from him all those years ago.
His main work at that time was being done at the glass works of W.E. Chance Ltd of Oldbury and was the designing and making of stencils and painting the opal glass globes which were coming into use on the petrol pumps of those early days. After the paint was sprayed on through stencils the globes ran on tracks into a kiln which fused the paint into the glass at red heat in the form of an enamel. There were various designs and names as more companies were dispensing petrol through these new pumps. After the paint was fired on the globe then ran through a kiln at a lower heat where they were gradually annealed and came out after about four hours as the finished article.
Tom had a team of girls spraying on the paint etc, and when he left the firm he took one of the best and most artistic with him to work in his garden studio on stained glass for churches. She was a Miss Vera Hickling, working for him until his death in 1934, becoming very proficient in the painted and script lettering side of the art.
The usual events took place in 1927. Easter teas, learning to dance with Nora, walks to Clent at holiday times (how we walked in those days of our youth - ten miles was nothing to us. It would require a great effort today). After choir practice the usual few would migrate to the girls' school where Mrs Herald would be coaching her girls in the forthcoming production of "The Dream".
In 1927 Mr Ben Taylor, Clarence's Uncle Ben, who lived in a house just above my works, bought a motor cycle and sidecar combination, an A.J.S. He never seemed to be happy with driving it and had some trouble with the engine. He sold it to me for £36 and I tinkered with it for quite a time, buying several new parts, borrowing the money from my dad on the promise that he would be able to drive it. I did take him out a few times but he scared me almost to death with the fast way he drove and the way he wandered about the road.
Eventually he gave it up himself and I upped the rent until I had repaid him for it. It became most useful for me for, by fixing a flat board on top of the sidecar, I could deliver most of my work on it. About that period I had designed and printed a leaflet showing patterns and prices of leaded panels for houses and after circulating this I received many orders. I recall one which came from the other side of Worcester. I took off early in the morning and stopped off at Worcester Cathedral before delivering the work. This was the first time I had been in the Cathedral, which impressed me so much that I took Nora there on a later occasion.
Sister Gertrude paid us a visit around Whitsun and a party was held at home to celebrate on the Sunday. This was the night when Clarence was putting on "He was despised" and Nora wanted me to miss church that night. I did not want to and we had an awful tiff. I went to church myself and did not return for about an hour after the service, stopping talking with Clarence and some of the boys. When I got home there was a flaming row. Nora was weeping and my sisters and mother were pitching into me for my awful behaviour and Harry Cunneen, Zu's husband, was visibly angry, calling me heartless etc.
In the June the Stourbridge Hospital carnival went on for a week and our church glee party went singing around the streets in fancy dress with a collection box for the Corbett Hospital. Clarence, Harold, Jack Jones, Clarrie Mac and self were the party. Events took place lasting for a week including the three nights' performance of "The Dream" in the Town Hall with Lord Cobham, Colin Thomas and the Mayor as chairman on each evening. Erdwick Bellamy and self did the lighting for this play and about £110 was raised for the carnival funds.
When the committee met after the carnival the Mayor, Leonard J. Cooke, came to me and said, "Look, Pardoe, why don't you do something to organise a carnival at Lye for next year, on a different day to Stourbridge of course". It sounded a good idea so I decided to take it up. First I convened a meeting in vicar Stuart King's study by writing to the heads of most of the Lye chapels, church clubs and other organisations, who took it up with enthusiasm. They elected a chairman, secretary, treasurer and other officials completely leaving me out even though I had convened the meeting and really brought them all together. This was the age of unemployment and times in Lye were very hard but in spite of this the folks from Lye threw themselves into working for this event. Preparations for the massive parade in the following June were carried out with spirit over the next few months.
During this August I was doing a window with Tom Stokes for the Causeway Green church at Langley, a single light of the Good Shepherd. This was the first I completed for him which included fixing it into the church and also the wire guards. Then we started a War Memorial window for the Oldbury Grammar School. This window, which took up a great deal of my time, was unveiled before a full assembly and I felt considerable pride in having been associated with its manufacture. A window was made for the New Street Methodist church at Wordsley. It was in three lights, the centre figure of the Angel of the Resurrection and on either side the daughter and son of the donor. Also, later on, two further windows were erected at this church.
In the Autumn, the repeat of "Midsummer Night's Dream" was performed on three evenings in October and Nora and Anne were again Oberon and Titania with most of the other parts unchanged.
In 1927 I was appointed treasurer to the church council in place of Mr Bob Morgan and held this office for a few years, banking the church's income and keeping the books in which I was helped by Nora's expert book-keeping knowledge. I then came off the choir and Harold Bolter left because he had joined the Stourbridge Amateur Operatic Society. He was training to take the main tenor part in "Trial by Jury" and also in the chorus of "Pinafore" in which also appeared George Gibb (bass), one of the Grammar School masters, and Gladys Moyle (soprano lead). Harold's voice in the "Trial by Jury" came over OK in the solo parts but he was drowned out by the chorus because he could not put out enough power to be heard. Ashley Pegg was the "Learned Judge" in "Trial by Jury".
About this time the King's Hall cinema was showing some of the new Technicolor films which we thought to be wonderful, as indeed they were for those early times, and there was much talk about the forthcoming talking pictures. Nora and I went to the pictures about twice a week. In the Christmas week the dance crowd from the parish rooms held a party and the girls put on a very good feed with trifle, fruits etc. This was a forerunner of many similar ventures. One memorable one was held at Clarence's home with singing and eating, Nora sightreading a song, Harold falling in the pit and tea for some of the snooty ones being stirred up with fingers instead of spoons.
Christmas was held at the usual places with the usual eats and games, halfpenny nap, gambling and the like. This year I remember going to the Bakers with Clarence and one or two others, gathering round the pianola with music and also listening to Nora's uncle Bert Baker with his violin playing some of the music from Mendelssohn's "Songs Without Words" while Edith accompanied him on the piano. We were entranced with such a performance, not realising before that Nora's uncle was so musically accomplished.
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Copyright © A.H.Pardoe and W.D.Pardoe 1991