Our readers recall fondly how veteran fund raiser Tom Moore once saved the jobs of 60 workers at March firm

PUBLISHED: 12:54 28 April 2020 | UPDATED: 12:54 28 April 2020

Photo from Janine Conlon:

Photo from Janine Conlon: "I loved my time there, I worked there for 13 years till it was shut down",

Archant

Second World War veteran Captain Tom Moore raised £30m by his 100th birthday walk but is fondly remembered for saving one of the biggest employers in the Fens nearly 40 years ago.

Photo from Janine Conlon: Photo from Janine Conlon: "I loved my time there, I worked there for 13 years till it was shut down",

As 125,000 birthday cards piled into his home – including one from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge - many recall the moment he led a management buy-out of March Concrete Ltd

Christine Wilson recalls her late husband and keen cricketer Alan Wilson working with Captain Moore at March Concrete Products Ltd.

She said: “The legend that is Captain Tom Moore lived in the Fens with his family for a few years in the 1980s.

“He was appointed manager of Cawood Concrete Products Ltd following the retirement of Mr Alan Walton.

Captain Tom Moore (pictured at his home in Marston Moretaine) used to live in the Fens, near Welney, in the 1980s after being appointed manager of March Concrete Products Ltd. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA ImagesCaptain Tom Moore (pictured at his home in Marston Moretaine) used to live in the Fens, near Welney, in the 1980s after being appointed manager of March Concrete Products Ltd. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Images

“He instigated a management buy-out with four other staff members, including the late Alan Wilson who was the company secretary.”

Mrs Wilson says they re-named the firm March Concrete Products Ltd, with a big relaunch on the River Thames in London.

She added: “They traded from 1983 to 1987 very successfully and were then bought out by ARC and several of his staff were then made redundant.

“Mr Moore cared greatly for his staff in the factory and wanted guarantees from ARC that they would keep their jobs, which they did until the firm closed in 1992.

Birthday cards for Captain Tom Moore arrive at Bedford School in Bedfordshire, where over 120,000 birthday cards sent from around the world are being opened and displayed by staff. Captain Moore celebrates his 100th birthday on Thursday. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire/PA ImagesBirthday cards for Captain Tom Moore arrive at Bedford School in Bedfordshire, where over 120,000 birthday cards sent from around the world are being opened and displayed by staff. Captain Moore celebrates his 100th birthday on Thursday. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire/PA Images

“Tom led a very happy and successful team and was always forward-thinking and very modest, trying to improve machinery for better performance of products; a really lovely man.”

Alan Wilson died in November last year and his wife, Christine, says lots of people will remember him and Tom Moore’s work at the concrete firm.

She added: “There is a lot of people who would have worked at their factory who will still be around, many people will remember him from around the Fens.”

Rosemary Paxton recalls: “My husband Mike Paxton was part of the management in 1984 and very fond memories of Tom Moore and is very proud of his wonderful achievement for the NHS.”

Captain Tom Moore used to live in the Fens, near Welney, in the 1980s after being appointed manager of March Concrete Products Ltd. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA ImagesCaptain Tom Moore used to live in the Fens, near Welney, in the 1980s after being appointed manager of March Concrete Products Ltd. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Images

Joan Syme told us: “My late husband J Moore used to have all our concrete from Cawoods. Tom Moore was a very nice gentleman. A fantastic walk he has managed for the NHS.”

Janine Conlon said: “I loved my time there, I worked there for 13 years till it was shut down, I was 22 when I went there, I think – very happy memories.”

And Jane Bedford added: “I remember March Concrete from my banking days at Lloyds in March. It was normally Alan (Wilson) that would come in and do the banking.

Sebastian Green and Dean F. Berry devoted a chapter of their book on management buy-outs to the history of March Concrete.

Captain Tom Moore's grandson Benjie, in the Great Hall of Bedford School, Bedfordshire, where over 120,000 birthday cards sent from around the world are being opened and displayed by staff. Captain Moore celebrates his 100th birthday on Thursday. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire/PA ImagesCaptain Tom Moore's grandson Benjie, in the Great Hall of Bedford School, Bedfordshire, where over 120,000 birthday cards sent from around the world are being opened and displayed by staff. Captain Moore celebrates his 100th birthday on Thursday. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire/PA Images

They reported how in early 1983 concrete pipe manufacturer Cawoods was under threat of closure after its parent company had just merged with Redwood creating a possible conflict of interest.

On July 11, 1983 Cawoods general manager Tom Moore, who had achieved some success in turning around the company’s fortunes, concluded a management buyout.

With four managers -Messrs Daisley, Doyle, Paxton and Wilson - they took a 32 per cent stake in the new company.

“They had had to raise £100,000 to fund the purchase of the assets of the company and a further £200 000 for long-term finance and working capital,” say Green and Perry.

Tony Cox: 'This is a picture of the Cawood Concrete (March) Office Staff taken in 1982/83 just before I joined the Met Police..Tom Moore’s office.. I’m third from left...'Tony Cox: 'This is a picture of the Cawood Concrete (March) Office Staff taken in 1982/83 just before I joined the Met Police..Tom Moore’s office.. I’m third from left...'

“To strengthen their hand with the financial institutions backing the deal (ICFC and Lloyds Bank), Tom Moore had called in local MP, Clement Freud.

“Sixty jobs in Freud’s constituency were being threatened by the closure.

“Freud had sufficient faith in the company that he was prepared to invest some £9,000 of his own money and take a 13 per cent stake in the buyout”.

And so was formed March Concrete Ltd – and the fourth largest employer in the town was saved.

Captain Tom Moore used to live in the Fens, near Welney, in the 1980s after being appointed manager of March Concrete Products Ltd. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA ImagesCaptain Tom Moore used to live in the Fens, near Welney, in the 1980s after being appointed manager of March Concrete Products Ltd. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Images

Profits came but it wasn’t to last for in 1987, with a market slump and high gearing, the directors turned to Amey Roadstone who took over March Concrete Ltd.

“Nevertheless, the buyout was not a total failure,” report Green and Berry.

“Management, workforce and outside shareholders all benefitted - and the March plant, though under new ownership, had become more profitable, and produced better quality pipes, than for many years.

Do you have any memories of Captain Tom Moore living in Fenland and working in the March area? Email: harry.rutter@archant.co.uk


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