This could so easily be another anonymous walking picture, a squaddie on leave from his National Service. It’s under-developed, badly framed, out of focus and poorly printed. But the squaddie in question is Ken Hawley, who bought the walkie, sent one half back to his parents in Sheffield and kept the other, loaning it to me along with a handful of other walkies from his album not long ago (there is another on the page about Sheffield walkies.). It was taken in Coventry Street, London, March 15. 1947.
Ken’s name might not be familiar to many, but his death last week made the national papers as a result of a lifetime’s devotion to rescuing Sheffield’s industrial history (rewarded not long ago with an MBE). I actually first met Ken as a kid, when my father used to pay one of his numerous visits to Hawley Tools, an amazing shop packed with every sort of tool known to man. I still have the Stanley hammer he bought there in the 60s. When it was my turn to get into DIY I kept up the tradition until his shop eventually closed, a victim to the stupidity of people who would rather have a bargain screwdriver “made” in China that failed after half a dozen uses.
By then though Ken was on his mission, scouring old factories and chatting up retired workers to add to his collection. Sharing a similar fascination for the city’s disappearing industrial base, me and my brother would pass on any unusual artifacts we stumbled across. Only a year ago, well into his eighties, Ken was on the floor of our garage chuckling over another box of strange hammer heads and taking away a few to add to his collection. I can’t think of anyone in the city I’ll miss more.