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Van driven by blind man !!!


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hilldweller

We had a bloke around yesterday to deliver and fit some replacement blinds. That triggered some long disused neurons in my grey matter when I remembered the vans that travelled around Sheffield in the nineteen-fifties driven by "blind men". At least that was what the signs on the vans said. "This Van Is Driven By A Blind Man" .

This puzzled young Hilldweller until his grand-dad explained that it meant that the van was driven by a man that worked for a firm that supplied and fitted window blinds. In those days I guess their business would have mainly supplied the drop-down external canvas sun blinds that almost all retail premises were fitted with.

At the first sign of a sunbeam, hundreds of shopkeepers would dash outside with a long pole, (Latvians wouldn't have sufficed). Engaging this in a shackle in the middle of the blind they would wait for a lull in passing traffic before pulling the blind out to it's full extent. This ensured that the suns UV rays didn't spoil the window display. Some shops adopted a belt and braces approach and fitted an internal roller blind made of a transparent orange coloured plastic that reminded me of Lucazade bottle wrappers.

The only roller blind that I remembered from that era was a WW2 blackout blind still fitted to the bathroom window of my grandparents house. The age of Venetian Blinds and vertical blinds had yet to come.

Imagine the palaver the PC brigade would make today if a firm tried that stunt.

I have a dim recollection that the trade name "Kilsun" came into it somewhere.

HD

 

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Old rider

You are right it was Kilsun. They made and sold the external blinds that used to be fitted to shop windows to prevent displays of clothes fading in the sunlight. For those who have never seen them there was a box with canvas on a spring loaded roller above the shop window and pivoted arms down each side of the window. The shop keeper simply pulled the blind out with a hook on a pole for it to extend over the pavement. Kilsun's workshop was at the bottom of Duke Street opposite Park Hill Flats. I went to repair their PVC Welder a couple of times.

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  • 1 month later...
VicRichardson

I also remember being confused by the "A Blind man drives this van" when I was a kid, trying to work out how he knew when to stop and when to turn.

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lysander

I used to drink with said "Blind Man". I haven't seen him in years but, then again, ten years ago I quit drinking beer.

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  • 5 years later...

Said Blind Man was my grandfather Ken Womack.. I didn't understand the joke of "a blind man drives this van" when he tried explaining it, until I was older.. Penny dropped one day. We used to sit in the back over the wheel arches getting thrown around in back of van. It was fun! 

We used to love visiting the shop as kids.. I can still remember the smell, the winding stairs at the attic top where his secretary Verna used to work, and the MASSIVE work benches.. 

He lived in the Halfway area and probably drank in mosborough.. If it wasn't him one of you guys drank with it could have been his son in Law Gary who also worked there & and took over the business after Ken retired.. 

Poppa (Grandad) passed away in 2003. 

I love that people have memories of the Firm ❤ 

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A few years back - anything up to 10 years at a rough guess - I came across a school book in which I'd noticed the van with the said slogan. This would have been school year 1961 to 62.

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leksand

kilsun-sh.jpg.a0003007021a023cf8580c662bec269d.jpg

This building still bore the Kilsun Blinds logo (on the High Street Lane side) until quite recently. I think the board is still up but blacked out, though may be wrong. I have an idea that, if it is, the logo may still be just about discernable. I'll have a check through my older photos as there is a chance it could be in shot in some of my Park Hill or Duke St shots.

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tozzin

I worked for a Mr John Mulcrone who owned the building, I had an idea it ground spectacle lenses in the 50s & 60 s, I could be completely wrong but seem to remember a row small grinding machines similar to a Mortar and Pestle that could be seen near the windows. Mr Mulcrone owned the cutlery firm of John Donnelly on Portobello Street, John was known through out the industry as John Donnelly, many didn’t know his real name BUT I was only thinking of this building just last week, in the late 1890s a Blacksmith is registered there but the building as we see it now it’s to many stories for that kind of business not unless he expanded in to decorative ironwork etc.

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SteveHB
45 minutes ago, tozzin said:

I worked for a Mr John Mulcrone who owned the building, I had an idea it ground spectacle lenses in the 50s & 60 s, I could be completely wrong but seem to remember a row small grinding machines similar to a Mortar and Pestle that could be seen near the windows. Mr Mulcrone owned the cutlery firm of John Donnelly on Portobello Street, John was known through out the industry as John Donnelly, many didn’t know his real name BUT I was only thinking of this building just last week, in the late 1890s a Blacksmith is registered there but the building as we see it now it’s to many stories for that kind of business not unless he expanded in to decorative ironwork etc.

1957 Kelly's.

Moors (Sheffield) Ltd., opticians,  Sheaf Optical Works Ltd, 15 & 23 Duke Street, 2.

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Oldbloke
56 minutes ago, tozzin said:

I worked for a Mr John Mulcrone who owned the building, I had an idea it ground spectacle lenses in the 50s & 60 s, I could be completely wrong but seem to remember a row small grinding machines similar to a Mortar and Pestle that could be seen near the windows. Mr Mulcrone owned the cutlery firm of John Donnelly on Portobello Street, John was known through out the industry as John Donnelly, many didn’t know his real name BUT I was only thinking of this building just last week, in the late 1890s a Blacksmith is registered there but the building as we see it now it’s to many stories for that kind of business not unless he expanded in to decorative ironwork etc.

 

John Mulcrone  (Jack Donnelly) was my uncle.

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tozzin
1 hour ago, Oldbloke said:

 

John Mulcrone  (Jack Donnelly) was my uncle.

What’s happened to your cousin Danny? Last I heard he was living in Lincoln, I went to school with Danny.

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leksand

kilsun2-sh.jpg.b49446e6bf27d9fc9bcb59c320a5c634.jpg

Can't find a picture that caught the logo unfortunately (off shot to left), though this is the ad on the right hand side of the same window as was in autumn 2009. The property was converted (although I think adapted may be a better term) to residential use around the middle of the last decade. I think this must have been when the boards were painted out, There's an American chap who lives there (presumably the owner) who decorates it quite extravagently at Christmas and holds a party in High Street Lane on the 4th of July.

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SteveHB
4 hours ago, lysandernovo said:

It was Gary that I had a drink with...in Mosborough!

I also knew Gary, via the angling fraternity.

Google street 2008

ksb,G-Ju-2008.jpg

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LeadFarmer
On 26/06/2015 at 11:18, hilldweller said:

I guess their business would have mainly supplied the drop-down external canvas sun blinds that almost all retail premises were fitted with.

At the first sign of a sunbeam, hundreds of shopkeepers would dash outside with a long pole, (Latvians wouldn't have sufficed). Engaging this in a shackle in the middle of the blind they would wait for a lull in passing traffic before pulling the blind out to it's full extent. This ensured that the suns UV rays didn't spoil the window display. Some shops adopted a belt and braces approach and fitted an internal roller blind made of a transparent orange coloured plastic that reminded me of Lucazade bottle wrappers.

 

I've noticed that in most old photos of Sheffield show shops with these blinds screening their windows.

As for the Lucazade wrappers, I remember in the late 70's there was a shop on Manor Top called Fashion Focus, their main window had this orange plastic on the inside and it to reminded me of the glass Lucazade bottle wrappers.

I wonder what year they stopped these wrappers? I guess when the switched to plastic bottles? Back then it was seen as a drink for when you were poorly.

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Oldbloke
On 26/09/2020 at 09:53, tozzin said:

What’s happened to your cousin Danny? Last I heard he was living in Lincoln, I went to school with Danny.

I don't know, we lost touch years ago and there's no one left to ask now.

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tozzin

Further to this old building. Could it have been the Old Crown public house?

1879
15 Duke Street Marsden Robert, engineers' hammer manufacturer and victualler
11 Sycamore Street  Marsden Robert, shoeing smith.

1893
15 Duke Street Old Crown public house licensee William marsden
Robert Marsden & Sons Hammer Makers

1896
William Marsden 15 Duke Street Old crown public house & shoeing smith 13 Sycamore Street
could be related to George Marsden , maybe his brother, Brass Founder at 53 Backfields

1911
15 Duke Street Marsden Mrs. Elizabeth. blacksmith
17 Duke Street Marsden & Sons, blacksmiths

 

 

 

img084.jpg

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