Fireguards

When the war was over I had an instinctive urge to get back to my Steinway but it was soon obvious that I needed several years of intensive piano practice if I was ever to realise my ambition to become a concert performer. Vernon Warner was still shedding pupils which he passed on to me and it would not be long before he arranged for me to take over his teaching at Stocks, the selective girls’ school near Tring. This took one full day a week and was very pleasant. But I needed to earn more and fate was about to step in and steer me in another direction.

An uncle in Birmingham, past-owner of the hardware emporium Frederick Jeavons, wrote to me to ask if I could design a rat-trap as the famous ‘Monarch’ which was no longer being made. I tried various designs and discovered that rats would only willingly enter a Trap where they could see an unobstructed way right through it. So was born the KLEERUN TRAP CO. I found a willing manufacturer in High Wycombe and it was not long before we were sending these traps in hundreds to FREDERICK JEAVONS to be marketed at 13/6d each. Jeavons required 50% marketing costs, to I was getting 6/9d cash making a reasonable profit. Then came government intervention! Wilson was now premier and he decreed that everything must be for export and my orders for steel wire were deflected to Canada. I could still get the steel but now had to order it via Canada and, of course, pay the extra cost of getting it here. This meant a price increase and the time soon came when the trap became too expensive. But fate was not yet finished with me! A famous burns surgeon was staying in Lane End when he spotted one of my rat traps. “That is the mesh I am looking for” he said. There was, he told me, no requirement in law to fit guards to electric fires and tiny children were often brought to him with terrible burns after gripping the glowing elements. He had managed to get a bill through parliament rectifying this and he asked if I could arrange to guard every LCC electric fire. This I did with the co-operation of the LCC who provided me with blue-prints of all their electric fires. This was followed by orders from several electricity boards and the works at High Wycombe were kept busy turning out guards by their thousands. (We call them ANN-D fireguards). This was followed up by the gas boards and soon these were added to the production line. We also made the BRADDEL guard for open fires with a considerable demand for it from a Belfast hospital. I knew this would soon finish as all manufacturers were now required to guard their own fires, but it was a profitable life while it lasted.

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