On completion of compulsory National Service in 1951, I worked briefly for a small printer before joining my Father at ‘the firm’: Johnstone & Cumbers or J&C, as it was more generally known. This was one of the oldest colour houses in London, having been founded in 1863. It was a very deferential age in which directors were addressed by their Christian names, but this was preceded by the title ‘Mr’, so it was Mr Tom, Mr Dick and Mr Harry.

I spent my initial years in the laboratory before moving to sales, a somewhat daunting experience for a young man. I still remember getting my first order from a customer somewhere near Ludgate Hill: Six kilos of halftone black. I was so elated that I nearly walked under a London bus in an effort to get to a phone box (before the age of mobiles). I felt I must prepare the factory for this colossal order! I learnt somewhat later the whole thing was a set-up by my Father in order to encourage me. So much for my imagined sales ability. I was too ashamed to call at that customer again!

Then the great day arrived when I got my first car, a brand new ford Anglia. I felt I had arrived, but I hadn’t even started. Ahead of me lay many years of travelling the length and breadth of the British Isles and beyond, though fortunately not in the ford Anglia.

Others can tell how we moved manufacturing to South Wales and how the name Cranfield now covers the manufacturer of previously separate entities of paint and ink, but throughout I was privileged to have had a father who laid the foundations for me and a son and his able colleagues who carry on the name Cranfield. This gives me the greatest satisfaction and makes me almost regret retirement. Perhaps I could paraphrase


But lastly this, and lastly always this,

When time that steals our years away

And steals our pleasures too,

The memory of this family firm

Will half my days renew.


George passed away on 1st February 2018