Welfare and Social
High Tea with the Canal Ironworks Orchestral Band
The Welfare side of affairs was quite widely covered both by legislation and by the firm's own Pension Scheme, Savings Group and Sick Benefit Club, founded long ago, and there are opportunities for social activities.
The scrap books provide evidence of an assortment of activities including a Swimming Club, with Instructor, a Brass Band and a Male Voice Choir and Glee Club. For a number of years there was an event known as the Annual Walking Match, in which the competitors covered a route varying between ten and twelve miles to win prizes mostly of silverware, and to gain possession of a silver cup for the next twelve months. The Works Band played them away at the start, and welcomed them back again at the finish. In 1912 the winner was Douglas Whitaker, who finished in I hour, 28 minutes, and 3 seconds. A Saturday afternoon in May was usually chosen for the event, and it was followed by a Social Evening in the Saltaire Institute. Most of Shipley's population lined the route of the walk and collections were made for local charities by Parkinson employees, many in fancy dress.
Parkinson’s First Annual Walk - 1910
Out of the Annual Walking Match grew the Athletic Club. There is plenty of evidence of Social Evenings, usually celebrating some special occasion, and providing a Concert, with Animated Pictures, Progressive Whist, and Dancing for employees and their wives. The evening began with high tea at 5 p.m. on a Saturday and the menu makes one wonder how 'Light Refreshments' could have been faced at 8.45 p.m. What must have been a very successful event of this kind took place on 10th March 1906 to celebrate the opening of a new department in what had been the Melbourne Mill. The invitation was extended to 'the wives of married men and the sisters and sweethearts of men over 21 years of age.' Five hundred and sixteen of them sat down to that High Tea. On a much later occasion in 1927 the difference from pre-1914 staffing is clear from the fact that two types of invitation were sent out. There was one to 'Miss X and Gentleman', and one to 'Mr X and Lady.' This time the rendezvous was the King's Hall, Bradford, and guests were reminded that,'It is a rule of Bradford Corporation that only persons wearing dancing slippers are allowed on the Ball Room Floor, and those who wish to dance should prepare accordingly.' A popular feature of industrial life in the North, the Works Outing, was also given a place at Parkinsons.
One of the most memorable was on 13th June 1914, when 950 employees, friends and relations spent a day in Blackpool at the firm's expense, travelling from Shipley in two special trains. Two meals in Clarke and Heap's Restaurant were included and a foot-note to the ample menu announced that 'At each meal any or all of the items may be had without restriction.' The weather was kind, and the guests were free to go in and out of the Tower as they pleased, with one free ascent of the Tower thrown in for good measure.
'A meeting will be held in the Tower Circus at 6.45 p.m. at which your attendance is requested.' This meeting was the centre-piece of the outing, and the most important item of the agenda, though not in writing, was the presentation to Mr Ernest Parkinson of a silver fruit stand on this occasion of the firm's Silver Jubilee at Canal Ironworks. It was a spontaneous gesture from the men, and the Tower Circus was overflowing with goodwill as it echoed to the cheers of employees who knew well enough that Parkinsons was a fine firm to work for.
Parkinson’s Blackpool Outing Menu June 1914