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Many of the quaint little shops and houses beloved of Charles Dickens,
among them the old shop on the corner, were no more. The historic
Surrey Chapel of diverse uses, build for Rowland Hill in 1783, the
year of Haywards' foundation, was totally destroyed. Shelley's house
in nearby Nelson Square looked out upon an acre of debris.|
The internal structure of the firm had changed
little during the war. W. F. Coughin, who had joined the firm in 1926
as a technician in the Roofing Department and had been closely associated
with the contracts for Bailey Bridge components and their fulfillment,
was appointed a director in 1943; otherwise apart from those absent on war
service the company retained its identity.
For six long years, the workers had carried on
in the face of affliction, each one playing his or her part in that
great story written during those dark days-- the story of the British
character which had triumphed in the face of the enemy and against all
reason. There was nothing very remarkable in that; it had happened before;
more important, the struggle was over.
Just before the war ended, the failing health of
Mr. Gray caused him to retire. The war had imposed a great strain upon a
man of his advancing years just as it had upon his fellow director, Mr.
Pittar. Both had shouldered additional burdens at an age when most men
hope to lay them down. Within a few months of each other, they were both
dead. Mr. Coughin now combined the duties of director and secretary as
Mr. Gray had done.
Obviously the elaborate machinery brought into
being over six years' comprehensive war production could not be dismantled
except with the greatest care. Works recovery was therefore unavoidably
slow. To a company depending to such a large extent upon the building
trade, it would have seemed that there would be limitless demands. There
were. But materials were the main difficulty and regulations ran them a
close second. It will be seen below how the company adjusted itself to
the changing conditions of the slow post-war recovery, and how it has in
the process developed in scope and influence.