Memories of Chaseside Engineering Company

Work memories 1959 - 1962

By John Cutler
Alfie Foster
Tony Wren, iron moulder
Tony Wren and Maurice Hart
Maurice Hart

I worked for Chaseside Engineering Co. Ltd in Gashouse Lane, Hertford from 1959 to 1962.  They had a large factory along with a drawing and design office, sales, buying and administration office. I think the company also had a factory and offices at Church Street in Ware.

The company employed a large number of staff.  It was owned by the Jackson family and, as far as I can recall, Mr Gordon Jackson was Managing Director.  He came into the office almost every day, arriving quite early.  He was very smartly dressed, sometimes wearing a spotted dickie bow.  He was quiet but always polite, saying “Good Morning” to everyone.

Chaseside Engineering was engaged in the manufacture of tractors, dumpers, fork-lift trucks and the renowned Mechanical Shovel.  These products, with their distinctive yellow colouring, sold very well, not only in Britain but in many other parts of the world.

Mr J E T Watson, a rather big built grey-haired man, was Sales Manager.  Others on the sales staff included Mr Burton, Mr G J Smith and Mr H E Smith.

I also remember well Mr Waterfield, who was the company’s Chief Buyer.

Overseas sales

The salesmen often went on trips abroad to promote and sell the company’s products.  This often resulted in letters from them to Hertford to report on progress and also letters from prospective buyers.  So those of us who were engaged in opening and distributing the morning post would see a wide variety of foreign postage stamps which were passed to a Senior Secretary and some were distributed amongst the office staff, so some of them came my way.  There were often several from Deha Qatar which is in the Persian Gulf.

The other staff

I remember a Mr Cheeseman who, I think, was Works Manager.  Mr Arthur Cook was one of the Factory Foremen.  Other staff in the Works Department included Alfred Foster, Sam Stockwell and Tony Cast, all from Hertford Heath.  One of Tony’s jobs was to fit the very large tyres to the new vehicles, a tough job but he did it extremely well.

The large office staff included secretaries to the senior staff and salesmen.  A lady named Mabel was on the switchboard and another named Sheila took over when Mabel went to lunch or if she was on holiday.

Another young lady named Carol, was a Secretary.  I can’t recall her surname, but after she was married, I lived with her husband and family at Heathgate, Hertford Heath.

Among the senior office staff was Mr Finlay the Accountant, and a Mr Hawkins, Mr Rudd and Mr Foley were concerned with wages and accounts.  Mrs Peggy Lawman was a Wages Clerk.

I remember Vic who was in the printing and duplicating office.  He was always very jovial, enjoyed a joke and sometimes dressed up as Father Christmas (not just at Christmas time) just for a laugh.  He was a great character, popular with all the staff.

Mr Harry Saunder, another senior member of staff, had a small dinghy, or boat.  Sometimes, on fine days during the lunch break, he would invite some of the staff to join him for a trip on the river Lea.

My job

I worked in the Costing Section, which was under the direction of Mr Roy Byrne who, like me, lived at Hertford Heath.  In addition to my office duties, I was sometimes sent out on errands to collect tea and sugar for staff who worked late.  I remember in particular, Mr Finlay worked long hours.  I would cycle to one of the shops in the town in order to obtain what was needed.

Others in the Costing Section included Jim Buckle who lived at Sele Farm.  I met up with him again when I went to work for HCC Highways in 1974.  Jim was then in the Costing Section of the department.

Other colleagues in the Costing department at Chaseside included John Pope who lived in the Stanstead Road area and Mr Sid Kew from Roydon.

The Canteen

There was a good canteen on the premises.  It was managed by a Mrs King.  Another of the canteen staff was Mrs Peggy Clarke, who bought the tea trolley round the offices a mid-morning and mid-afternoon.

Most of the staff used the canteen, but sometimes some of us would go to the Mead Lane Café which was situated just up the road at the Gashouse Lane/Mead Lane junction.  A good meal was available and the café was also popular with lorry drivers passing through and staff from other nearby companies.  There was a shop attached to the safe where one could buy soft drinks, cigarettes, ice cream, sweets etc.  the safe and shop were run by a middle aged couple who were always very friendly.

The cafe was situated just across the road from the railway line, running to Hertford East station, also the Great Northern Line which was still in use, mostly for goods trains at the time.  Steam trains were still much in evidence and quite often maintenance staff could be seen working on the railway lines.  They too were among the cafe’s customers.

Happy days

The company was a good one to work for.  All the staff seemed happy there.  To me, it was like being part of one big happy family.  The company announced in about the late 1950s a merger with British Northrop, a company based in Blackburn.  This meant that within a few years the factories and offices in Hertford and Ware would close.  Some staff were offered jobs in Blackburn and I think a few of them accepted but most of the staff stayed in the Hertford and Ware areas and found other jobs which were far easier to obtain then, than they are today.

I think the company’s factories and offices in Hertford and Ware closed in about the mid-1960s.

I have many fond memories of my time at Chaseside.  I am sure there are other former employees still living in the Hertford and Ware areas. Maybe some are members of the Hertford and Ware Local History Society.

John Cutler
11 September 2009

Editor’s Notes:  The photographs were supplied by Yvonne Lee, Baker’s End.

There was a Chaseside Engineering Company based at Cambridge Road, Enfield.  Presumably this was a related site.

This page was added on 24/03/2011.

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  • My name is Bruce Jackson. Grandson of George Jackson who founded Chaseside Engineering ,Gordon Jackson was my uncle.
    I live in Canada and have all the photos and records of Chaseside Engineering along with Chaseside Motor Company in Hertford and Enfield.
    anyone who is interested in photos of the history of these companies can contact me

    Ed: Please get in touch via and we can facilitate contact

    By Bruce Jackson (10/11/2023)
  • My father William Humphrey was Technical Sales Representative for Scotland from 1956 until the amalgamation with Eton Yale & Towne. He loved working for the company and when he started with them there was virtually no Chaseside loading shovels in Scotland. He built the business up until every company in Scotland had at least one. JCB were the biggest competitor and there was great rivalry between the two. I see a previous comment says the Jacksons sold out to JCB. I was always under the impression that there was an amalgamation with Eton. People I remember coming to our house when there was a week’s demonstration in Scotland organised were Derek Riding, and Norman Whitehead. Unfortunately I can’t remember the names of any of the drivers who came but it was always an exciting time on our house when the demos were on.

    By Anne Kermack (04/04/2020)
  • I can remember my Aunt Kath working in the office at Ware.
    This would be in the middle ’60s, also, I seem to remember that the managers name was Mr Bunce,
    I think his first name was Frank.
    My Aunts name is Kath Sealey.

    By Tony Hughes (29/07/2018)
  • I started in Chaseside as a apprentice engineer in 1960 as a 15 year old working under the then foreman, later manager, Johnny Ainsworth. I was a indentured apprentice and the first twelve months was a gofer, go for this and go for that, brewing up, fetching dinners and learning to do as one was told. It was a good grounding working and learning with some wonderful men, John Reid, Fred Elwood, Bill Henry, big Jack Fisher and many more. We were situated in 6 bay where I was trained to set-up every single type of machine from slotters, borers, bar lathes, centre lathes, drills, grinders – the lot. A small part of my training included working on the assembly line for the Loadmasters as well as in Loom Research and Development. When Chaseside started up with the conversion of the Ford tractor from two to four wheel drive. I was at the latter end of my apprenticeship when Johnny Ainsworth gave me a job to do. There were twelve castings which he wanted machining and his specific instruction was he wanted twelve good ones and no scrap. It was on the largest centre lathe in the shop and I had to take the massive chuck off and replace it with a 6 foot faceplate. I completed the job with no scrap ones and felt like the cat who had got all the cream. These were the drop boxes that were being used for the conversion of the tractor. A short while later I came out of my time and went on to bonus work and £15/£16 a week earnings depending on a Saturday morning overtime. About three months later I left the company for Dick Bearings – Ransom Hoffman and Pollard after I fell out with the foreman, Ken Read. Engineering in Blackburn on a massive scale had had its day and the writing was on the wall for some great companies. I changed vocation and joined the Police to complete a 30 year service.

    By William Leaver (28/03/2018)
  • I spent about a year working as a clerk in the shipping department of the Northrop Factory. there were two factories on Philip’s Road in Blackburn, the massive Mullard Blackburn Works and the British Northrop Loom Company . It was to service these two companies with labour that the large council estate was built on land Acquired from Croft Head Farm in about 1948. I knew the farmer, Harry Cook who worked the remains of the farm with his wife, Ivy for many years.
    When Chaseside arrived at the Northrop Factory, many of us felt it was a last ditch attempt to save Northrop. Their famous looms had been sold all over the world and I feel that this was the typical of success being their own destruction people were astute enough to copy those looms and build their own, the market faded for Northrop, diversification came too late Chaseside disappeared and the last spectacular was that of the whole factory burning down, it was amazing to see how those flames spread from one end of the Philip’s Road part of the factory to the other and in such a short time, could have been the pigeon pee (soluble oil) they used in the lathes, but then the lathes were in the Harwood Street, production side of the factory. It was, as I remember, a sad end to what had been a proud factory employing 3,500 people. Ironically, the Mullard factory employing almost twice as many people all but disappeared not too long after and the buildings now house an “industrial estate”. Ten thousand jobs disappeared and not a thing was done to prevent it.

    By Brok (04/12/2017)
  • Chaseside Engineering, Hertford was my first job in 1955. I was a dictaphone typist and worked for Mr. Rudd in accounts. I clearly remember Mr Hawkins and Rosie Rosseter. We used to have a good laugh. My friend Chris worked for Mr. Thomsett in shipping and two friends, Pat and Thelma, worked for Mr. Thornton in Sales. Mr. Jackson’s office was on the side and he always looked smart but was very aloof. We always enjoyed the morning and afternoon tea trolley. It was a good place to begin my working life.

    By Penelope Freier (new Pole) (31/10/2017)
  • I have one of these machines jcb chaseside 900ls can aney one tell me where I can get parts for brakes  shooes and slave cilnder


    By jimmie maloney (16/01/2017)
  • Gordon Jackson ordered a Lotus 12 F2 car from Lotus  Hornsey in 1957, I believe he did not take delivery of the car, it had a troublesome gearbox and Gordon may have decided not to buy the car after all. The car still exists today in Sweden but I am keen to find anyone who may know of Gordon Jackson’s interest in motor racing around 1956/7

    Mike Bennett Adelaide Australia

     Lotus 12 registrar - Historic Lotus Register UK

    By Mike Bennett (23/06/2015)
  • I started work for British Northrop in 1962 as a apprentice I did 6 months in the training school and 6 months on the slays for the looms. I then transferred to the Chaseside Division starting in the Sales and Service Dept working on all types of loaders taken in part exchange for Chasesides in the Old Timber Sheds. The building was a massive Barn type of building with no heating or luxuries. The winter of 63 was one of the coldest on record. When testing machines or back actors you had to dig down 3 foot to get through the frozen ground. I was in this dept for 12 months then onto the production line of Chaseside sub assembly mating engines with gear boxes making steering axles for the Chasesides later for the tractors onto building them and in the end snagging them After this building 202.s with Alf Field, Ambrose Mitchell and a chap called Bill ? we also built a few Fiat AD7.s using the Fiat engine gear box and tracks with a body and hydrolickes made by Chaseside. I also worked with Bill Harper on the end of 4 bay making the experimental Chaseside Tractors splitting them removing the gear box fitting a bigger drop box to turn it into 4 wheeled drive a new streering axle and a turbo charger to the engine. I left when production stopped and I refused a job with JCB. I started with a plant hire company the week after and ended up as workshop Manager at their largest Depot at the ripe old age of 27 thanks to the experience gained at Chaseside.

    By Michael Gibson (08/02/2015)
  • I started work at Northrop in 1962 as a apprentice fitter After 1 year I was moved to Chaseside firstly in the old timber shed which housed the Sales and Service. I stayed there for 2 years repairing many type of loaders which had been taken in part exchange for Chasesides. Alan Kirkham was the manager and Gerry Hacking foreman. I then went to the production line. From sub assembly to Snagging the finished machine. I then went building 202.s with Alf Field Ambrose Mitchell  and Bill  ? During this time I moved around a bit working on the modification of Ford tractors fitting drop boxes to make them 4 wheel drive after building the axles myself fitting turbo chargers and other bits and pieces with Bill Harper. I left when Chaseside was sold to JCB who offered me a job which I turned down at the age of 22. Chaseside was a good firm but selling it to JCB did not bale out Northrop who closed a few years later.

    By Mick Gibson (05/02/2015)
  • Well! What a fantastic historical article! My dad Harry Midcalf also worked for Chaseside, but was based in the Ware workshop. Initially he was a service fitter and used to travel all over the south of England repairing initially rope operated shovels. When the factory relocated, he moved to Blackburn and became a Technical rep. which meant that he travelled all over Europe and instructed customers own mechanics on how to carry out technical repairs. I also got a job im Blackburn in the service department office, my boss was Alan Kirkham, known as Mr Wippy because he always wore a white coat. Probably long gone now. I then got a promotion into the sales office dealing with Warranty claims under George Fryer (he was also service manager). Later I transferred to work in Fiat sales (for whom we had an agency). I left Blackburn in about 64/64 but thoroughly enjoyed working for what was then British Northrop and especially enjoyed walking through the factory watching the looms being made and tested! Good old days.

    Mick Midcalf 

    By Mick Midcalf (10/12/2014)
  • I started work at the Hertford factory in the early sixties this was my first job after leaving school, I was employed in the Stock Control office. My colleagues were Albert Peterson and the manager was Roy Chiffey, Dick Cheeseman was the Manager.

    The office was situated at the end of the assembly line and saw many LM700/750 and LM800 produced also saw the start of the SL202 production, had a great time there. It was sad when the factory closed.

    By Malcolm Draper (19/06/2014)
  • I remember Mr Foley, he gave me my first job driving plant at Trundles, that was in 1971. I was a 20 yr old with little plant experience, but Mr Foley took me on and I had a couple of happy years there, I left there as a half decent digger driver. I remember Mr Foley in his long wheel based Land rover, always on time and he expected the same from us. Happy days.

    By Nigel Church (09/11/2013)
  • It gave me great pleasure to read this article,as I am the son of Mr John Foley. He would sometimes have to go to work on a Saturday morning and I would go with him and be very excited, when he would sit me in the driving seat of one of the brand new Demon rope operated loading shovels in the yard I can still smell the fresh paint and and rubber from the new tyres . My father workd with Mr Rudd and Hawins who travelled from Enfield every day and walked from Hertford North Station and across Hartham to work. I remember Smart’s pit opposite the factory where rigorous testing of the machines took place and the drawing office just across the road, where Fred Lapwood and Clive Turner worked.Clive became the Commanding Officer of 936 Squadron Air Training Corps situated at the bottom of Gallows Hill.After the company closure my father went to work for Allplant at Thundridge as their manager and then to manage Trundles Plant Hire at Hunsdon, where he worked a five and a half day week up to the age of 72 before retireing. He passed away in 1994 at the age of 85

    By Brian Foley (16/07/2012)
  • a really interesting read,i too worked for chaseside but in blackburn.i was one of the first batch of apprentices there in 1961.gordon jackson was the m.d.a rather snobish chap who drove a jaguar.we were all told not to speak to him unless he spoke to us.his right hand man was mr cheesma.,he was o.k. mr jackson lived for many years near blackburn in a village called mellor,then vanished.the northrop factory was a vast place employing over 3500 people but sadly the profitable chaseside was sold to bale out the loom making side .it was sold to j.c.b. for a questionable £100.000 lock stock and barrel which included over 30 brand new machines,all patents,machinery and equipment and spares plus the sales network.i was just 22 and recently married and had a well paid service fitters job so had to find work quick .but then it was easy.i would probably have still been there today in some capacity if they had carried on.on the matter of size of factory the foundry was aquarter of a mile all that remains are the old service dept,r&d dept and the building where the ill fated northrop tractors where built.i still have a tie pin given to me by them and only 2 weeks ago bought some parts manuals for sl 1500/2000/and 3000 machines and could still build them today.happy dreams.

    By j.preston (08/06/2012)
  • My brother John started work at Chaseside around this time. He eventually went to work for an American firm and moved to Indiana in 1965

    By Ian Fisher (19/01/2012)
  • Thanks for giving a history of the Chaseside factory! I own an old Chaseside SL2000 loader which I am restoring now here in Sweden!

    By Fredrik Anderson (27/11/2011)