Roy was the foreman at the building company, he had a lot of experience in the building game and was a great brick layer too. Roy was quite imposing and had very starring eyes as well as being muscular and stocky. Roys passion was judo and rumor had it he was a black belt. This added to his reputation as he had a right temper when he was stressed up.
So it was the summer of 1984 and the building company I was working for were renovating a load of barns out at Hooton Pagnell, near Doncaster. It was a hot summer and the building company had old school tea breaks, 15min morning, half an hour dinner and 15min afternoon. The thing is when the big bosses were not on site the breaks went on for ever if the weather was nice. The builder brought footballs to work to play with and there were the daily crosswords in the papers that got passed around. In the shop on a morning, the lads would be like ” you buy the Sun and ill get the mirror then Dave can buy the star”. they all kind of had the same stuff in really though. Favorite for break time was Bits and Pieces on the Radio1 Road Show and the Golden Hour guess the year.
So back to Roy, the roof covering on the barn was York stone and these had been taken off to put new timbers in and now they were ready to go back on. The York slabs were really heavy and it was decided between Pete and Roy one the other brickies to rig up a platform out of scaffold that would stand in front of the main scaffold that ran the length of the building. They were building it all the previous afternoon and it looked impressive. A scaffold pole over hung at the top of the gantry and this had a wheel pulley hooked from it at the top. The only thing that was missing was something to put the York stone slabs in. Pete said ” let’s build one out of scaffold” and to start with Roy argued it would be too heavy. The whole thing was discussed in depth over a potter (cup of tea). The conclusion was it would be built, so the lads set about cutting up battens and fixing the scaffold poles together until a kind of box was made with scaffold boards on the bottom and poles supporting them and also around the sides. it was a work of art. Could this be the next big thing?
4 chains were fixed to each corner of the cradle that then went and attached to a thick rope which in turn went up to the wheel pulley, around it then over to the dumper.
what could be more simple, load up the cradle with stone slabs at the bottom reverse the dumper, the rope then pulls the whole thing up to the top of the scaffold where it can be unloaded. Then it is back down and repeat until the roof is loaded out, Simple.
The height of the scaffold was 3 flights including the top so it was not mega high but to carry up the flags would have been awkward.
So we were all set for take off, the lads at the bottom had loaded up the scaffold cradle, Pete and one of the laborers were at the top waiting to unload, and Roy was in the dumper waiting to reverse. A quick thumbs up to everyone and the lever was put in gear and backward the dumper went. The slack on the rope began to take up until the strain was there. Then the cradle started to rise, “we have lift off” someone shouted with a laugh and as the cradle rose slowly there was a beam of satisfaction on the face of Roy and Pete. Then just as the cradle was nearing the top that smug grin they both had suddenly turned to fright as the scaffold was pulled away from the wall and started to topple over. There was nothing Roy in the dumper, or any of the lads could do but watch, as the top had been pulled out far enough for the momentum to take over and finish bringing it all down. It all seemed to happen in slow motion and came down with an almighty crash. dust flew up in the warm air and there were a few cries of help. Roy stopped the dumper and sprinted to help his buddies. To everyone’s amazement, no one was seriously hurt. Both the lads at the top had been pulled off into the massive pile of sand that had been near the cement mixer for the mortar. 2 foot either way and they would have landed on the mixer its self.
An ambulance was called and Pete was taken to hospital as a precaution where it was found he was suffering from shock.
Roy was subsequently relieved of his foreman title and pay and it was not long before he left and started his own company.
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