Adviser - Spring 2016

’ and Southend in order to verify the tote dividends. It was not until several years later that someone realised that Essex County Council had mistakenly awarded the contract to Bland Fielden instead of the local bookmakers JJ Bland. Like Scrutton and Goodchild, many of the staff at Bland Fielden in Colchester served in the armed services when war broke out in September 1939. Ben Herbert joined the RAF in 1941 when he turned 18, but before then was placed on firewatching duties in the firm’s offices each night, ready to deal with the incendiary bombs that were dropped over the town. The lawn and part of the gardens were turned over to “dig for victory” which was the lunchtime and evening task of staff not on active service. Once the war was over Bland

Fielden was forced to build more offices to house the returning forces personnel, including Eric Bland, who came in after the death of his father, Frank Bland. Eric had served with distinction as a fighter pilot and was awarded an immediate DSO following a courageous raid on a German U-Boat in October 1943, which culminated in the loss of two

B y now the building was showing considerable signs of wear and tear. Brian recalls the day the glass car port collapsed (thankfully no one was injured) and also has memories of numerous boiler breakdowns and power failures, the latter often caused by overloaded circuits as staff used electric fan heaters to keep warm. Despite the many extensions and additions to The Limes, the gardens and lawn were still superb, although walking on the grass was absolutely forbidden. The grounds were maintained by Doug Inns, who was a good gardener but not a great handyman. Senior partner Tim Mulley recalls asking him to repaint an office, and was slightly surprised when Doug did so in record time. It was only later when Tim went to move a desk that he

engines of his B-24 Liberator, and having to ditch the plane into the sea with the loss of two crew members. As well as the additional financial work, there were also opportunities for social outings and events. Mr Fielden had a connection with the operatic society and Ben Herbert remembers the office staff going for a Christmas meal at Jacklins restaurant (now part of Williams & Griffin) followed by a show at the Hippodrome (now a nightclub). There were also cricket matches played against other local firms such as Luckin and Sheldrake (accountants) and the occasional football match. In 1948 Colchester Town played Blackpool in the FACup and Bland Fielden paid for two coaches of employees to travel north to see the match. Colchester lost 5-0 and to make matters worse one of the bus drivers nodded off at the wheel so the journey was further extended while he was made to have a nap in a layby. Accounts executive Brian Waller joined Bland Fielden and Co. in 1970. This was still a pre-computer era: ledgers were typed out and duplicated with carbon paper, items were manually posted as debits and credits, and of course all the accounts were balanced by hand. Brian had to tear up the unwanted documents as there were no shredders, and all the secretaries dreaded being handed paperwork from Russell Wray which would be covered with his annotations and crossings- out and had to be retyped from scratch. At the end of each day all the desks were covered with white dust sheets and each morning Brian had to uncover partner Clifford Robins’ desk, dust it, and then manually write out the FT index from the Daily Telegraph for him.

realised that Doug had painted all around the office furniture, but had left the original paintwork behind undisturbed. Customer service, then as now, was an integral part of the business service, and this meant accommodating the clients when they brought in their annual accounts, no matter how their books were delivered. Brian Waller was called on to deal with the yearly paperwork for a fish

Doug Inns, gardener and handyman at St Isacc’s Walk, Colchester

merchant based in West Mersea. Their accounts had been delivered in fish crates, and Brian says, “The smell was so bad that we couldn’t bring them indoors, so they had to be stored in the old air raid shelter in the grounds”. Sporting fixtures remained a highlight for many of the staff, and in the 1970s and 80s the Bland Fielden cricket team often


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