Michael's Article - Introduction

Michael Penfold has kindly written a piece for our history pages. It chronicles Michael's father Alfred Penfold's immense contribution to the company dating back to the middle of the last century, the toil, sacrifices and sheer hard work that laid the foundations for today's company.

Alf like John commanded respect from everyone. He could be fearsome and even in his later years was as strong as an Ox. He led by example and what an example...

Michael's own words pay tribute to others that have contributed to the success of the Partnership and Company over many years, but what it doesn't do is reflect his own pivotal role in fashioning the route the company has taken over the past 15 to 20 years.

Michael inherited his father's work ethics, but he was more than a grafter, he could see that times were changing and through his scrap metal knowledge was able to modernise the company's attitude towards recycling.

He was and still is a visionary and a thoroughly nice man to boot.

Alfred and Michael Penfold's Story - Part 1

My father Alfred Penfold was born in 1919, he was the youngest child of 4 sons and 2 daughters. He started working for his father Jack Penfold from the age of 14. Jack Penfold (my grandfather) business consisted of horse and cart haulage, pig breeding and stables at Chapel Place Portslade. There was also a yard with an orchard in Stoney Lane Shoreham. Both yards were rented. Stoney Lane was mainly used for pig breeding and my father spent most of his early years working here.

Alf's eldest brother Mick (John A W Penfold's father) died after contracting T B at the age of 23. My father idolised Mick and was heartbroken at his passing. Alf often reminisced about Mick in his later years.

At the outbreak of war in 1939 my father joined the Argyle & Southerland Highlanders regiment and saw active service in Holland, Belgium and Germany. Alf married my mother in 1942 and I was born in 1944. Alf was demobbed in 1945 and wanted to return to pig breeding, but as a result of the war my grandfather's business had contracted. My father's other 2 brother's John and Jim transferred pig breeding to a parcel of land that my grandfather had purchased in Small Dole for a very small sum.

Alf started dealing in scrap metal from the yard at Stoney Lane. He purchased a large second hand van and replaced the body with drop sides. Over the next couple of years he built up a regular scrap collection round which included plumbers, general builders and some small factories and at the same time invested in the necessary tools and cutting equipment. John A W Penfold worked on the general haulage side of my grandfather's business at this time.

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My mother, father and I lived in shared accommodation in a rented house in Gladstone Road Portslade. A new council housing estate was being constructed at Mile Oak in 1949 and my parents were offered the opportunity of renting a house providing we could prove that we were capable of paying the required rent.

We moved into Beeches Road, Mile Oak in 1950. My father would trade for pieces of furniture during his travels and in no time we had a lovely home. At this time I was still at school but would often spend Saturday mornings with my father on his scrap metal round. We used to visit the houseboats at Shoreham. After the war many ex motor torpedo boats were purchased to provide living accommodation. All unnecessary equipment would be removed and valuable metals sold on.

My father would explain to me the different type of metals and how to identify them. My father was an immensely strong man and no matter how heavy and large an object was he would somehow manage to get it in the back of his truck. I continued my education at St Michael's primary school in Locks Hill Portslade and then Portslade secondary modern school in Mile Oak Road.

During the holidays I would work for my father at the Stoney Lane yard. I studied at night school and passed an exam to Preston Technical Institute for a one year course. I finished my education by the age of 16. I passed the exam at the end of my year course and was offered apprenticeships with British Telecom, Kearney & Treaker and Wade Engineering. My final summer holiday was spent at Stoney Lane yard dismantling ex naval marine engines which my father had purchased from a company dealing in redundant military equipment. I decided to follow in my father's footpath and was proud to do so.

By 1958 both the scrap metal and haulage elements of my grandfather's business were reasonably established, if under financed. All the vehicles and equipment were second hand and needed constant attention. John began to include demolition alongside the other activities. Barry Harland joined the business upon leaving school and became John's right hand man.

My father and I often sub-contracted to another scrap metal business called Freemans Rag and Metal Company. We would carry out dismantling work for them and also haul scrap from one of their depots to their wharf at Portslade ready to be loaded onto ships.

My grandfather died in 1970 and as a result a partnership was formed between my father Alf Penfold, James Penfold, John A W Penfold and myself. About this time the partnership was given notice to leave the premises at Stoney Lane. My father approached Stan Faul of Freeman's and he allowed us to rent their small depot in Mile Oak Road Portslade. It was a tiny disused chalk quarry only a 20th the size of Stoney Lane yard. We had to reverse into the yard as there was no room to turn around!!! A small wooden shed on a bank by the entrance was our office. The depot was used for the scrap metal activities of the business.

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