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Recorded Memories

Frank Edward Interview. August 2000.

A family business. Life in an industrial town 1925-2005:
'It's granddad's fault we are in Hinckley - the story goes...'

'Always dad's dream, have a nice building on a corner site... the Edwards Centre'

Frank's family story relates that granddad was a bargee and stopped off in Hinckley for a night out, his barge was stolen and he never left the town. He set up in business as a horse and dray carrier. He had a big family and Frank’s father, Solomon, was the youngest and subsequently bought the carrier business. Solomon continued working as a carrier between Hinckley and Leicester. One story which was told in the family – was that one very wet night Solomon stopped off at a farm for shelter and both he and the horse stayed in the farm house for the night.

Frank’s father met his mother at the Fox Hotel, Leicester (became Lewis’s department store). Her father was a hardware man selling his wares round the villages of Leicestershire. They were married in Ibstock and settled down to married life on Regent Street, Hinckley. Frank’s father continued to run a successful carrier business and had three horses, progressing to having one of the first motor vehicles in the town specifically for carrying. At weekends he used the lorry which could be adapted to use as a charabanc and took people out on mystery tours. However, in time the Midland Red took over this side of the business.

They had three sons, Jack, Arthur and Frank. Jack became an apprentice counterman, Arthur worked for the family business and Frank worked in hosiery trade on the production side. During the war Jack was a fireman, Arthur went into the Artillery and Frank joined the air force. After the war the three brothers joined the family business, Frank specialized in furniture removal and eventually packing and shipping overseas. Jack, in time, purchased a set of hosiery machines and set them up in the old Trinity Dye Works, it had previously been a storage place for furniture and the brothers set up as JAF Hosiery – Jack, Arthur & Frank. They continued to operate the various businesses including a property business and employed over a hundred people.

There were 92 hosiery factories in Hinckley at one time, men would often set up in business with a set of old machines from an established firm. Many companies started up in this way. The brothers still had an office on the corner of Regent Street, near Ross Motors. It had been their father’s dream to have a building on a corner site – hence the Edwards Building.

Frank talked about going on the Arcade Parade on a Sunday, sometimes a Saturday, sometimes taking a young lady to the cinema, this was in the 1930s. Gangs of boys and girls would parade up and down Regent Street and round the Arcade and back again. He went to dances at the George Hotel, they had a lot of big names there. Arthur Kimbrell had started his working life as a milkman for the Co-op but became the social secretary and brought some big names to the George including some American bands. The George was used by the American forces during the war. Young people, however, continued to go to dances at St Peters Hall and the YMCA. Hosiery firms organised their own dances and the Edwards brothers held a Christmas dance at the Masonic Hall.

Everyone had new clothes for Easter, churches and chapels held their own parades around the town. Holidays after the war became more affordable, Blackpool being a very popular holiday destination. Edwards Brothers were involved in this, taking holidaymakers suitcases to and from Blackpool.

Frank remembers where they lived on Regent Street, there was a cake shop, a cycle shop, fruit and vegetable shop and a fishmongers. The Arcade was built by the Atkins Bros and there were a lot of problems with shifting sands. When they built the Edwards Centre in order to avoid similar problems the piling equalled the size of the building.

Frank's Interview.
Run time 18 minutes & 52 seconds.

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