Paul Lawson is 99 years old, and has very kindly shared some of his memories on the early days of Pitkin & Ruddock.

I first became acquainted with Mr Derek Ruddock and Mr Pat Pitkin when I was employed by Refrigeration (East Anglian) Ltd of Bury St Edmunds. They both worked for Boardly & Roberts in Lowestoft. That would be in mid 1954.

By 1959 my pay was 4 shillings per hour. In December 1959 Mr Ruddock offered me employment at 5 shillings per hour (around 25p) and I joined Pitkin & Ruddock January 1960.

In 1960 Mr Ruddock used a pre-war Morris van and Mr Pitkin used a small private car, working the Beccles area, where he lived. I was provided with a small new van carrying the HALLMARK lettering! At this time our workshop and garage for the van was in an unused horse stable and slaughter house yard in Arnold Street. Vans and cars in those days had to be parked off-road or display front and rear lights after dark!

By around 1965 Pitkin & Ruddock obtained premises in Melbourne Road in what had been a bake house. We all three set to to remove the two bread ovens and make the premises into a workshop come stores and office. Mr Pitkin knocked out the wall adjacent to the footpath and installed double doors.

Pitkin & Ruddock supplied and installed the cellar cooling gear for many new Public Houses for Lacons of Gt Yarmouth. If a job was a fair distance from Lowestoft Mr Ruddock and I would stay overnight at a nearby pub, a fair distance in those days would be Ipswich and the surrounding area.

Between 1960 and 1970 P & R were called upon to service/repair refrigeration equipment on the up and coming North Sea gas rigs. In those days one would report to the airfield on the northern outskirts of Gt Yarmouth in overalls, with a toolbox and cylinder of refrigerant, just the same as any other breakdown – no survival suits in those days.

Now and again we were called to attend to the refrigeration on one of the Light Vessels moored in the North Sea. This would entail boarding The Mermaid, the Trinity House ship at Gt Yarmouth, being taken close to the required Light Vessel and taken to the Light Vessel in an open motor-boat. The way a Light Vessel rocks and sways was sickening, and I mean sickening. That was a job I was very glad to be back on terra firmer again and go to my faithful van awaiting for me on the quayside at Gt Yarmouth.

I was not so unlucky as an engineer from Norwich who got locked in the mortuary coldroom at Lowestoft. He was never the same afterwards. BUT, I did get shut in a low temperature coldroom at Birds Eye Foods at Gt Yarmouth. Despite there being an emergency bell-push in the store no-one came to release me. (The internal door push-rod to open the door from within the coldroom was missing!) So, getting cold, I removed one of the meat rails from the ceiling hooks and promptly battered a hole through the eight inch coldroom door. I straightway reported to the Supervisors, in my own language, and got an apology.