FROM THE BARCHIVE
R&S provides brief respite from the trials of the present by delving into the Association’s archives at Watford to
showcase some the ways removers of days gone by have employed humour and creativity to prevail over times
Cooperation and competition in 1945
The April 1945 issue of R&S published a poem titled Autres Temps (French for ‘other times’) sent in by the anonymous “Ulysses.” The poem laments the
decline of inter-member cooperation within the Association – which was then the National Association of Furniture Warehousemen and Removers (NAFWR)
– and prompts reflection on the power of helping each other through periods of crisis.
28 Removals & Storage April 2020
As the last stanza of the poem indicates, World
War II continued to rage at the time of writing
– Victory in Europe (VE) Day would not be
celebrated until 8 May 1945. One year earlier,
in the preface to R&S April 1944, the Editor
perceived the first intimations of victory as well
as major uncertainty about the future of the
trade following the cessation of the conflict.
The end of the road seems almost in sight. Over
the next hill or so we may come across it suddenly
round the bend. It seems difficult to realise that
for five or more long years we have struggled and
fought along this road, striving to do our small
part in service to the nation and our public.
At one time we thought that things might ease
down after a German surrender. Yet with each lull
in enemy bombing, with each government
derequisition, we see our public besiege us with
demands to move into or out of some place or other.
It may be because Spring is in the air, or because of
the long-restrained desire to resettle before the rush.
Whatever the cause, we are importuned at every
moment to carry out some additional work with
which we cannot possibly cope.
What good is a house, either for a hero or
anyone else, without a furniture remover? Shall
we be able to renew our demobilised staff or recruit
fresh labour? Will the youth of the nation be so
demoralised by war-work that it will neither deign
nor make endeavour to learn the skilled trade of
the removal hand?
A contemporary Pitt & Scott advert (above
right) seem to share similar concerns: the
gentleman, who symbolises the removals
industry, manages to bear the heavy
pantechnicon but not without signs of great
effort – a bent back and a bead of sweat
running down his cheek.
In peace: “What can we do for you
To help you get your traffic through?
We’ll cut our price. What, scamp the work?
Of course from that our hearts would shirk
And everything will be just fine.
I’ll treat your job as though t’were mine.
If information we can give
Please ask us, as to help we live.
Nothing will stop your work from being
Our main concern that you’ll be seeing.
Our motto’s ‘Help and Service’ too,
I’ll see the job goes through for you.
House isn’t easy of access?
It’s on a mountain, more or less?
The carry’s long, the avenue narrow?
Why that is right into our barrow.
You say you have a boudoir grand?
I’ll go myself and give a hand.
Don’t worry, we’ll contact the owner.
No need to write, for we’ll just phone her.
Customs inspection? It’s no trouble,
We’ll see about that at the double.
You’ll get your cases and your packing,
I’ll see no care or help is lacking.
If, when your vans arrive, we find
We’re quite booked up, you needn’t mind.
We’ll see your job is carried out
By someone else from round about.
You won’t get left, we’ll see you right:
It may be hard, I’ll make it light.
Our Centre wants to see its List
Of Members live, not just exist.
And each and every one of us
Will watch your interests and thus
You’ll safely put in us your trust.
I’ll fix you up, e’en though I’m bust!
Now that war has made it hard
And lots of help we had is barred,
We’ll see that what we build is found
And help for each can still be found.
And then our name will ever stand
A shadow in a thirsty land.”