Tom turns ninety

Tom Gould
Tom Gould

Story: Nikky Wilson • Portrait photo: Carl Rose

Tom Gould, celebrates his 90th birthday on the 16th December. Born in 1918 on Botham Street, off Grimesthorpe Road, Tom is one of the oldest residents on the Firshill estate. At Grimesthorpe School he remembers football and cricket as his regular passions. “We used to go to the playing fields by tram every Monday afternoon and I’d borrow the teacher’s football boots – I loved it!” he said.

Having left school at 14, Tom first took a job as a window cleaner before starting work at Sanderson Newbould’s tool factory in 1933. Apart from during the war, he remained there until his retirement in 1983 – 50 years service!

“I did every job in the hack saw machine shop. I started off marking and punching hacksaw blades until I got called up for war service in 1939. When I got back in 1945, women had taken over my job and the only thing left for me was tempering followed by a stint of hardening. There wasn’t much in the way of promotion then but I did used to be in charge of the women in my department on the twilight shift at the factory.”

Tom as POW
Tom as POW

Of his war time experiences, Tom said: “I got sent to France in 1940 with the Duke of Wellington regiment, supposedly to help on the front line. But we were captured by the Germans at St Valery and then marched to Poland to the POW camp at Poznan. We did all sorts of jobs there – digging drains, shovelling snow, working on the railways and forestry. The guards were mainly quite reasonable except when the SS came around, they really scared us. At the end of the war, they released us because the Russians were coming and we returned to France. We stopped in Brussels where the Canadian army fed us steak! After the bread and soup at the camp, that was something to remember!”

After the war, Tom returned to Grimesthorpe and his job at Sanderson Newbould. He joined the safety committee when work-place health and safety were just beginning to be recognised. He also joined the fishing committee, took up rambling and resumed his interest in football, playing for the factory team.

In 1972, following demolition, Tom moved to the newly built Firshill estate, along with neighbours from Grimesthorpe. “It was lovely! We all knew each other and used to socialise together.”

Tom’s philosophy has been ‘never ask anyone to do something you wouldn’t do yourself’ and he remains firmly independent – first in the queue for the mobile library, always cheerful, he is still an enthusiastic member of the Firshill Local History Society.

Congratulations, Tom, as you reach your 90th birthday.

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The content on this page was added to the website by Jamie Marriott on 2008-12-01 12:30:44.
The content of the page was last modified by Jamie Marriott on 2008-12-01 16:01:01.

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