Lasting Memories of John Henry Hone - (1921 ... 2010)
Read the Funeral Service Eulogy
delivered on behalf of all members by Ray Tuthill (President of the Association)
My father, John Henry Hone was born in Singleborough, Buckinghamshire, on 7th October 1921 to Jack, a horse
groom and Gladys, a former telephonist, a brother to their daughter Elsie.
John Hone - Apprentice Supervisor 1958 -1969
He left school at 14, and his first job was as a delivery boy for a Winslow family butchery business. He
was spotted on the delivery bike by Lord McCorquodale, lord of the local manor, and my grandfather's
employer. Dad had done some car repair work for Lord McCorquodale, and on seeing Dad, Milord said to my
grandfather, "Jack, Jack - What's that boy of yours doing riding a delivery bike? Send him to Bletchley
station tomorrow morning to meet Mr Maitchen."
Dad was given trial work, and later offered an apprenticeship. My grandfather's wages didn't run to paying
for an apprenticeship, and so Dad was given an un-indentured apprenticeship, which he completed in the
early part of the Second World War.
After apprenticeship, he worked for Leslie Hartridge, an engineering firm in Buckingham, engaged in war
work. He became a Special Constable and also a Home Guard member in this period.
Post-war, he worked for Brockhouse Engineering, who had made the Wellbike paratroopers motorcycle in the
war period, and later, the Corgi, for release to the public market.
A tale that he told of his days at Brockhouse was of riding a Corgi in a field with some of the other
staff. They organized a pre-Evil Knievil jump for the Corgi - a brave thing to do as the bike had tiny
wheels and no suspension, only smallish balloon tyres. The front wheel dropped out of the forks on one of
the jumps, and the fork legs acted as a superbly efficient brake as it landed, causing a spectacular
forward roll of man and machine.
Dad moved into government service when he started at Westcott Rocket Research Establishment as a toolmaker
in the early 1950s. He was engaged on some experimental work, and later moved into apprentice training
whilst still at Westcott. In 1953 he moved on to Porton Down, for more involvement in apprentice training,
and the family moved to Salisbury.
Dad was very enterprising - from about this time, I recall a hair dryer that he made from a small
war-surplus blower, some aluminium tube and some electrical bits and pieces. It was a little heavy compared
with the commercial products that appeared later, but was very well made and lasted many years. A saw-
bench for his own use and a grain dryer built for a farmer were among his other projects.
A move to Enfield came for Dad in 1957. He had digs, and the family moved up in 1958, first to a flat in
Ordnance Road, and later, the house at Government Row.
When I was a teenager whilst living at Government Row, Dad gave me the cycle he had bought when he was an
apprentice. It had a three speed hub gear, and as an apprentice, Dad had made and fitted an additional
derailleur gear set. This gave the bike nine gears - rare, if not unique in those days.
Dad was well known for his photography, and abilities in keeping elderly cars, and virtually anything else
mechanical or electrical in running condition. Less well known were his cabinet-making abilities - Mum
still has an excellent oak bookcase that he made whilst at Enfield.
He was an outgoing person, always ready to give help where it was needed. At Enfield he and Mum were strong
supporters of St Peter and St Paul's Church. He helped with Cub and Scout group activities, he made repairs
to the pipe organ at the church, helped with many of the church functions, and was always on hand to remove
unwanted pianos, which he broke up.
I recall one occasion when five or six people helped Dad and I to load an unwanted piano into his Ford van.
We arrived home at Government Row and there were just he, and myself - a young teenager of no notable
strength, and we had to get the piano out of the van. Ever resourceful, Dad tied the piano to the lamppost
outside the house, and drove the van away. It dropped the 3 feet or so from the bench seats in the van, and
made quite the loudest and worst piano chord I ever heard.
His timing was less than perfect on that occasion - along came the coal lorry, which had to wait while we
manhandled the piano out of the road.
After retirement, Dad and Mum were equally involved in activities at St Mary's Church, Weeting, and we have
received a glowing tribute to their support from Father Britton, a locum priest who often filled in at the
Going back to Government Row, we had a very large garden, and Dad developed some unusual gardening
techniques. One was to borrow an extremely large and heavy Howard Gem cultivator each year to till the
soil, rather than hand dig it.
My brother Philip reminded me that there was a large jasmine bush in the garden. Dad, thinking that it was
getting out of hand, decided to set fire to it. It went very well - so well that he tried the same
technique with an oversized gooseberry bush, prompting it to produce record crops! He also developed this
into a method for dealing with long grass, piping gas from a Calor bottle to the target area, and throwing
a lighted match in!
Dad encouraged us to think and do for ourselves. As youngsters at Enfield we put up an aerial runway in the
garden, and also dug out an underground den. My brothers and I spent many happy hours riding round the
garden perimeter track on bicycles, Cyclemasters, and similar machines, and later a Corgi.
In later years at Enfield, I learned the rudiments of car body repair and panel beating from Dad. He gave
me my first experience of welding, and always encouraged me to get stuck in and have a go when things
broke. I am extremely glad he did - they are skills I still use daily.
In his working life, Dad spent many years attending night-school to achieve qualifications, and in later
years he also taught at night-school.
He was a great dad, a mentor, and a friend. He was firm but fair, and put other's interests before his own.
He was a resourceful, caring, and kindly man, always ready to help anyone. He was an excellent teacher to
his children, exercising sufficient, but no more than necessary discipline, although it did not always seem
so at the time! With hindsight, one appreciates that what seemed hard decisions at the time were always in
our best interests.
The upbringing that Dad and Mum gave us children allowed each of us to develop each in our own way. We
could not have wanted for a better father, or mother.
We will miss Dad, but always have good memories about him.