Friday, August 22, 2008

Pig bins

Metal dustbins, known as ‘pig bins’, were chained to many of the lamp posts, into which people put any waste scraps of food excess to the needs of their own rabbits and chickens. Lttle came from our house, where we were exhorted to “eat your dinner, or we won’t win the war”. We did, and we did, but have been given little credit for it since. One door down from us, two brothers and their families were neighbours, and had combined their gardens into one large one. At the bottom they had a sizeable pig sty, and I can remember parcels of pork being traded at the door. Once when a group of young pigs escaped onto the street, somebody phoned the police, only to be puzzled by their response of “Are they boys or girls?”, caused by them mis-hearing ‘kids’ for ‘pigs’,

Strange coincidence

Interestingly for a company which made such a contribution to our war effort, Minimax were, and now still are, a German owned company, founded in 1902 in Berlin, where the legendary cone-shaped fire extinguisher was developed. By 1906 Minimax was the main worldwide manufacturer of fire extinguishers - with foreign companies in Europe and the USA. It came to Feltham in 1910, taking over one of the first aircraft factories in England. Even more intriguing is the fact that the Secret Service HQ from 1924 to 1966 at 54 Broadway, known as the ‘Broadway Buildings’, had a fake plaque outside which said ‘Minimax Fire Extinguisher Company’. A strange choice, as the Germans, more than anyone, would have known that it was not. Next door at 55 Broadway was the Head Office of the Unioin Construction Company (UCC) of Feltham which before the war had manufactured the Feltham Tram and Underground carriages for the new Picadilly Line extension, whose premises were taken over by General Aircraft for Spitfire and other aircraft repair during the war!

This seems to be such a curious coincidence, ie apparently two (one bogus) Feltham firms with HQs next door to each other in central London that we could do with corroborative evidence
In addition to the famous fire extinguishers, they developed a portable fresh water distiller, known as the ‘K.M.’ Capable of producing 5 pints of fresh water per hour from sea water, it was issued to all British Merchant Ships, and to those of the Allies, and increased survival times in life-boats from 14 to 60 – 70 days. By 1945, 15-20,000 had been produced. The factory had its own Home Guard Section, and the strongest National Savings Group in West Middlesex.

No comments: