Charles Edward Sweetman (1908 - 1992)
Charlie Sweetman was born on 22nd April 1908, and joined Herberts in 1929 shortly after finishing his apprenticeship with the Mattocks Scale Company. As an "outside service mechanic” – as our service engineers were then called – he started at the going rate of 1/1d per hour.
In 1931 he was involved with a proposal to the management for a scheme that would be ‘an incentive to a workman to increase production’. This involved a formula of machine types, trade and user to calculate a bonus, but it is not known if the scheme was ever introduced. At that time the Company employed 14 service engineers, a Grade 1 engineer earning £3.8.11 for a 48 hour week. Only one of the engineers was mobile, driving a small van, and he received an extra £1 per week.
At the outbreak of WWII he joined the R.A.F. and on his return was employed on special service work, repairs and deliveries. He was the first company ‘scalie’ to be fully mobile, driving one of the company’s five delivery vehicles, which included three motor vans, and two refurbished horse drawn milk floats for deliveries in the London area.
The photograph on the right shows Charlie with a disabled persons weighing machine, around 1960.
In 1965 he was put in charge of our London & South East area service organisation and then in 1969 was appointed decimalisation controller responsible for planning the conversion of several thousand machines from £ s d to £ p. Decimalisation ‘D Day’ was 15th February 1971, and after this massive operation was successfully completed in October, the Planning Director of Tesco wrote a letter of congratulations and thanks for the "careful planning and unstinted efforts put in”.
Charlie had been largely responsible for the success of our decimalisation programme, and retired as soon as it was completed.
In 1974 in a letter to the Company on his move to a new house in Walworth, he sent in a copy of a 1928 publication ‘The Book of the ‘Lion’ Scale’. He drew attention to a chapter which stated ‘The 4lb capacity confectionery or tea scale weighs only 16lb complete with special demonstration tray and mackintosh cover, and keen salesmen are carrying this model by tram, train and bus to demonstrate to their customers’. Charlie commented ‘No riding around in cars with heaters then. In 1928 Men were Men and Scales were Scales’!
His grandson Bill Watson worked for the company between 1985 and 1987.
Charlie died on 12th March 1992 in Guys Hospital, London.