STARTING OUT ON THE MARKET

Roger Williams

I was born in 1951 in Radford, Nottingham. I’ve lived in Nottingham all my life – I left school in June 1966 on the Friday, started on the following Monday working with my dad on the Wholesale Market – he did flowers, I was exotic fruit. Dad had always worked on the market and it just seemed the right place for me to be. I was so eager to start that during the last few weeks at school I’d even worked out what I was going to be wearing – I’m gonna get some tough boots, I’m gonna get some of those jeans and so forth. I actually ended up going to work for the first few weeks in my school uniform, because I hadn’t got any other clothes!

Peter Buttery 

I knew from when I was thirteen that I wanted to go and work in a Wholesale Market. I grew up in rural Lincolnshire and I used to go out with my uncle, who did the seed potatoes – taking them to Scotland, to Covent Garden, all over the country. I thought it was a great adventure, going round all those markets, hearing the banter and drinking giant mugs of tea – I wanted to do that! My dad, who was a farmer, tried to persuade me to join the civil service instead, saying, “You’ll get all these holidays. I’ve only ever known two workers get the sack and that was for spying!” But I was stubborn – the market was in my blood.

I was still at school in the early sixties when I got an interview at William Clark, Avenue C. My dad drove me up there one Saturday morning to meet a guy called Ernie Stockwood, but he wasn’t there – apparently he liked his drink. I went again the following Saturday and the same thing happened! As I was walking up Avenue C with my head down, a man shouted, “Now then, what are you doing?” When I explained he said, “Can you read and write?” When I told him I could, he said, “Right, come on then, let’s get you started.” I said, “Can I go tell my dad? He’s waiting by the Fox and Grapes.” That man was Bill Heatly, the big boss at Blatherwicks. I think I worked for about six Saturdays until I finished school and then I started full time. That’s how it was in those days, all so open.

Roger Williams 

Pete was always very good to me. It was a big step up going to work for him and I really felt like I was among friends there. I’d worked for seven different companies by the time I retired, each time moving on, starting on the barrows and unloading and sweeping out, then moving up, becoming a salesman – at one time I was a sales manager. I was going to leave the market after two years – I’d got a job at a camera shop, god knows why. I said to the boss at C.W. Tooley, “I shan’t be seeing you again Mr Laurie,” and he says, “What’s up, son?” I told him I was leaving and he says, “Do you really want to do that?” I admitted I wasn’t sure and he says, “Start here, Monday morning five o’clock, don’t be late.” So I did – at first, I didn’t know what money I was getting. I was getting a fiver a week before that, so when I got my wages on the Friday, seven pound ten pence, it was unbelievable! You could work with somebody and earn twice as much as them, doing exactly the same job. They paid you what they thought you were worth – there was no minimum wage or anything like that. It never caused any animosity because you kept what you earned to yourself.

Peter Buttery 

I had a rise on my first week, so I must have made an impression. The boss was going to start me on four pound, but when first Friday came round I got four pound and ten shillings – bear in mind this was quite a few years before Roger. Most of my pals were on apprenticeships and I think they only earned about three quid a week.

Roger Williams  

When they set anybody new on, you knew within a week if they were going to last or not. Sometimes you’d think, “No, they haven’t got it in them.” But Pete, Steve and I did – that’s why we’ve all done so many years in the business – for the love of it.

Peter Buttery 

I’d been at Blatherwicks for around ten months, settling in, finding my feet and there was this young man who just wasn’t fitting in. None of the lads was getting on with him and he was moaning about this, that and the other. So the lads got one of the lorry ropes, tied his hands behind his back, threw it over a lamppost and hoisted him up. We were having our lunch break in Thelma’s caff, watching him outside and all of a sudden we saw a guy we called Tug Wilson – a notorious policeman, about 7ft tall. He was coming down Avenue C and we thought, “We’re in for it now, we’re gonna get a pasting!” Anyway, as he walked down he saw what we’d done but just crossed the road and walked on! Those times were crazy – I loved it.