August 1901: Deakin’s Annual Picnic, Rufford, Lancashire

From: Wigan Observer, Friday 30 August 1901

On Saturday last the employees and staff of the above gathered together at the Eclipse Works for the purpose of enjoying a picnic to Rufford, given by the principal, Mr. W.R. Deakin. Before the wagonnettes left the premises, a very interesting ceremony took place, the whole of the staff and employees being arranged in a group and photographed by Mr. Skewes, of the Pemberton Photographic Company. Mr. Skewes was very patient in restraining the ebullience of the feminine gender, who had decorated themselves in festive array to have that “likeness taken”. Amongst the little foibles of the gentler sex, there is none more strongly developed than the constant desire to appear before the fascinating eye of the camera. The party left Bradford-place a little after one o’clock, and after a beautiful drive (for Nature was wearing her most radiant smile) arrived at Rufford at 3.30. The male members had arranged a cricket match, Manufacturing Department v. Office and Travelling Staff. After a very exciting game the works claimed the highest score by two runs, and their opponents graciously conceded to them the laurels of victory. At five o’clock over 100 sat down to a splendid tea, catered for by Mr. Ashcroft, of the Hesketh Arms. After this pleasant and necessary part of the program was over, Mr. Taylor, a member of the travelling staff moved a hearty vote of thanks to Mr Deakin for his hospitality in providing such an excellent picnic. In looking back to similar gatherings in the past, it was remarkable to notice the steady increase in the numbers, which was a powerful evidence of the fact that they were forging ahead, and he considered that the firm had already entered amongst the first rank of preservers. He referred to the very high testimony which was being recorded to them in the commercial world, and said they, as travellers, had the greatest confidence in selling, knowing that the garden the goods they were offering one of the very best. He then called upon Mr. Wyatt to second the vote of thanks.

Mr.Wyatt, in seconding the vote of thanks, said it was the first picnic at which he had had the pleasure of being present. He was delighted to have an opportunity of coming into intermediate contact with those who helped produce the articles which they were daily offering on the market.

As travellers, they knew they have good stuff to sell, and a short time ago he said to his wife that the three years he had been representing the firm had been the happiest three years of his life. It was indeed a pleasure to sell the goods that would turn out of the Eclipse Works. The goods from the eclipse works were as good and as reliable as any that were found on the market. With Mr. Deakin at the head he knew that they could not possibly have a better master; he had proved himself kind and considerate in at every turn. The motion was also supported by Mr. Stewart and Mr.Ashcroft.

Mr.Deakin, responding, said: I am sure I appreciate very much the remarks that have been made by two of our representatives. During the past few minutes my mind has travelled back some twelve years ago, when I first laid the foundation of our business. At that time, one person, in addition to myself, formed the entire staff. I sometimes wonder how we managed to get through the work, as I was my own foreman, jam boiler, bookkeeper, and (to a great extent), my own salesman. So you will understand that it was very hard work at the commencement, but we plodded along, and with energy and perseverance we have gradually built up our business to its present dimensions, with the result that we are gathered together today to the extent of over 100 in number I think. I think you will readily understand that I cannot help but feel a genuine pleasure and pride in this, and I feel sure that there is no jam works in the country that can gather together a better staff. There has been a keynote struck this afternoon, and that keynote is this: that responsibility rests upon every one, even from the one occupying the most humble position to those occupying positions of great responsibility, and it is important that the most humble duty should be done in the best possible manner. In the manufacture of an article of food, it is most important that every care should be taken to ensure perfect cleanliness. That this care is taken with our manufactures is proved by the fact that there is hardly a single family represented here but what uses are manufactured, and this in itself is a clear indication of what we ourselves think of our products. Now it is important that everyone of you should feel that you have an interest in the success of a business. We are all units which go to make a complete whole, but there must be a governing mind around which the units may circle. I often think that if those occupying less important positions, could realise the grave responsibility that falls upon upon the principal, they would make far greater efforts in order to do that duty safely and well. It may seem very nice and comfortable to see a principal walk through the works. So far as you think or know, he is practically doing nothing, but, it is a mistake to think so.

To a great extent, his eye is everywhere: it is necessary that it should be so; little things are noticed which may seem very trivial to you, which, if they are overlooked, might lead to serious results. I have an ideal, and it may be a very high one, but, we really must have a high ideal, or we should never attend the position we are striving for. Our travellers who turn out and sell our  manufactures (and it is pleasing to know that they take great pleasure in selling them), know that should the least change take place in our manufactures, the customers report it at once. This is very gratifying, as it encourages each one of us to strive to do the best we can to turn out the best possible jams and marmalade, and it is proof that the public can tell a good article when they get it. A principal cannot do everything. He may form his plans, and those plans may seem strange to those who do not understand them; they may wonder why the principal orders this or that, but, he has a goal in view, and it is necessary (even though you may wonder why this all that should be so), that you should take your cue from the principal. If the cue is wrong the principal himself is the first to suffer, but, if anything goes wrong through the principal’s ideas not being carried out then it is very hard lines upon him. I want you to understand that while I don’t wish any of you to lose your individuality, it is necessary that you should yield to discipline and attach yourself to whatever system the master mind from experience knows to be the best. I question where there is another preserve works in the country that pays higher wages or works shorter hours. This can only be kept up by each individual in the place striving to do his or her best. We have competitors to meet up and down the country who are paying very much less wages than we are and, consequently producing their goods at much less cost. But, I may say that when I first came into business, I made up my mind that I would be successful, but I would not be successful out of screwing down the wage of my employees, and I shall endeavour in the future, as I have done in the past, to get the very best value I possibly can for good services. So I trust you will all do your utmost in the future, and I assure you that no one will be more ready to respond to myself in recognising and appreciating faithful service. We have had a very pleasant gathering this afternoon, and I think we have great cause to be thankful that we have been so fortunate as to secure a fine day for our picnic. I do not want to say anything further. I have not spoken with the intention of giving you a lecture, but simply is a matter of confidential talk, and I hope that I have been successful in inspiring with each one of you from the, from the least unto the greatest, a greater sense of responsibility for the future.

The party then dispersed amongst the fields to follow their own sweet will and a beautiful moonlight drive home brought a very enjoyable day to a close.