The true story of the policeman showered with glucose

One of the firm’s most famous anecdotes is told by Bill Deighan, system works engineer at Forest Gate.

‘We had this wonderful man called Oggy Avey working at Forest Gate. He’d been horribly injured in the desert fighting during the Second World War and he did various things at the factory such as manning the telephone exchange, receiving goods as doorkeeper. One day I was passing his little office and he calls me back. The look on his face told me something was up. He said Bill, I’m getting a bit concerned because the lollipop lady hasn’t turned up.  We had Shaftesbury Road School next door and a lot of the kids used to go home for lunch. This meant going across a very busy crossing between Shaftesbury Road and Katherine Road.  What’s more, we had lots of vehicles going over the forecourt delivering suppliers and one thing and another. Anyway, he said, I’m a bit worried because the lady hasn’t turned up. What are we going to do about it? So I’m thinking, I’ll have to volunteer one of the engineers or something and I’m also thinking about the legality of providing somebody who’s not trained. When lo and behold, up the road on his bicycle comes the cavalry in the shape of a local bobby who cycles over to us.

Now a few minutes beforehand, a glucose tanker had pulled onto the forecourt and was connecting a pipe to our delivery point. We’d just walked away from the bobby when suddenly there’s this horrendous explosion. We turned round and there’s the policeman standing with at least a ton of hot sticky glucose dripping off him. It’s running down his face and he’s closed every orifice in his head, his eyes, his ears. His helmet’s gone and his uniform is ruined.  The road is two inches deep in glucose. Now, as you are probably aware, glucose has to be delivered warm, but once it hits a cold surface, it hardens. Meanwhile, as usual, somebody came to the rescue. And this somebody rushed over to the copper, who was trying to get this hardening glucose off his face. They grabbed him by the arm and took him into the lift up to the shower room. Somebody had to phone the local police station and tell them, we’ve got one of your policemen in our showers!’

Oggy Avey in 1978