Chris Corbett

Chris Corbett, 1939 Chris Corbett, at work in Holdsworth's, ca 1939
notice the smart dress code; shirt and tie

Information provided by Chris Corbett in an interview, aged 93 in June 2009

Chris Corbett, born November 1915, started work at John Holdsworth & Co Ltd, Shaw Lodge Mills, Halifax in the Design Department, working with Eddie Chapman under the management of Isaac Jennings. Jack Thompson also worked in the Design Department.
Chris was living at Woodside, Haley Hill, Halifax, and would often walk home with Jack Thompson.

Subsequently, Chris became a Wire-Loom weaver, weaving the moquette for London Transport on a 3/4 (36" wide) loom. He particularly remembers the green and fawn striped cut and uncut moquette, and the boiled weft.
Tom Lister was the weaving foreman of the main weaving shed at that time; he always wore a short black smock.
Mr. Priestley had the other weaving shed, the 'New Shed', his family had Priestley's Newsagents at the end of North Bridge.
Jack Smith was the weaving manager; he seemed to stay in the shed office and not speak to anyone.
Mr. Irving was in charge of the clocking cards and the shed office, which was at the foot of the main shed steps. You had to be at work in good time before 6.00am, as he would shut and lock the door promptly, even if he saw you come round the corner into the mill yard. You'd have to wait until breakfast time to get in to work. We used to get sandwiches or tea-cakes with all different fillings from a place called Toc-H. There were two shifts, 6-2, and 2-10 in the main shed.

If your warp ran out and there wasn't another one ready, you'd have to go home.
After a day or two, you'd have to see Tom Lister who was in charge of everything in the shed, to see if there was anything doing.
He'd say "Nowt yet lad," then after a few days, he'd say in his broad Yorkshire accent "Tha come down on Monday, or else you've lost your job."

One one occasion Chris had gone to the toilets for a smoke (which was not permitted), with Eddie Ecclestone, and they were discovered by Tom Lister, who sent them both home.
The next day they arrived at work on their bicycles, to be greeted by Tom Lister with "What's tha doing 'ere?"
"We work here" they replied; "Tha did before but not now," Tom responded. Eventually he let them back into work, having enjoyed his little joke.

Chris was called up, but had already volunteered for the navy, and served as a QR2 gunner, (Quarters Rating [Armourer] 2nd class) acting petty officer, on Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships and ended up on HMS Exmoor, a Hunt class destroyer and the flotilla leader. Chris was in charge of guns and took part in several Russian and Atlantic convoys, and took part in the Dodecanese Campaign in the Mediterranean Sea near the Dodecanese Islands. The ship was about to be sent to Japan, but the atomic bomb stopped that.
Chris saw the German battlecruiser Scharnhorst go down; its boilers blew up and made a huge explosion. She was sunk after being engaged by Allied forces at the Battle of North Cape on 26th December 1943. Of a total complement of 1,968 men, only 36 survivors - none an officer - were rescued from the frigid seas. The survivors formed a ship-mates group, and Chris Corbett met six of these survivors.
Chris was demobbed in early 1946.

Chris received a Russian Star medal in recognition of the Russian convoys.

Prior to joining Holdsworths, Chris had worked at British Furtex in Luddenden Foot, where their main product was artificial fur. The manager at that time was a Mr. Bottomley, a nice man, and the fur was made in the shed just past the Weaver's Arms.

Together with Jack Bates, who worked on the German (Gusken) looms next to Chris, and who became a councillor and alderman, Chris started a trades union at Shaw Lodge Mills.

Chris left John Holdsworth & Co Ltd in 1939 after a disagreement with Mr. Priestley, and went to work for Courtaulds as a weaving overlooker until it closed, then he went to Abrahams Carpets in Bradford, performing similar work as they made moquette as well as carpets, and eventually Chris Corbett became the foreman. The managers there were always very smartly dressed.

Eventually, Chris moved to Denholme Velvets, where he became the weaving manager.

© 2022 David W. Holdsworth  

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