Ronald Alan Blackford was born in 1914 in Hastings. He had two brothers, Dave & Les. His Father owned a coal business in Hastings. Before the railway brought coal to the town, a boat would bring the coal and it was taken from the boat up the beach to the shore in baskets.
In 1927 Ron left school aged13 to start work as an electrician for Bikers of George Street, Hastings. In 1932 while working at a house he met Lilly (born 1914 in Kidderminster) who was working there in service. Then, in June 1936 they were married in Blacklands Church, Hastings.
Ron had been told of a coal business (A. Baldocks) that was for sale in Uckfield and was advised that it would be a good place to move to and take on the rounds. The business consisted of small, local rounds of the Uckfield, Laughton, Blackboys and Framfield area. Included was a lorry, a 1930’s Chevrolet truck.
So in 1935, Roseville on Eastbourne Road, Uckfield was bought. The bungalow consisted of 4 rooms with a scullery which had an old copper boiler for washing clothes etc. Roseville was next to Ridgewood Service Station & Yonder Tea Rooms (now Meadow Views) and between Geals Nursery (now Timberly Gardens).
In 1936, a new Morris Commercial lorry was bought to replace the Chevrolet truck, but Lilly made a condition that no children were allowed to come along until the new lorry had been paid for!
As well as being used for delivering of coal, the lorry would have to be cleaned out for taking pigs, sheep, chickens and vegetables to the local market. On occasion, a tilt cover was put on to move people around the local area. Laundry was also collected from gentry houses and taken to Mr. Bakers laundry at Little Horsted.
Alan was born in February 1939 (when the lorry had been paid off!), and then war was declared in September 1939. This changed the coal business as rationing came in to force, not only for coal but also for petrol, food and other necessities. There were also new licensing laws for lorry. We had a “B” licence which meant we could deliver coal anywhere, or other people’s furniture up to 75 miles. There was a restriction of 20 miles for any other goods. *
With the outbreak of war it meant that more people were keen to move out of London and move to more rural areas. Ron decided to use the vehicles for furniture removals as well as other duties. We carried on the removal business until approx 1980.
During the war, house holders had to register 1 person only who could order their coal. Only 34cwt was allocated per year. This was increased by another 20cwt of fuel was needed for cooking as well as heating. This rationing continued until 1958 and was the last of the rationing to be lifted.
Ron was called for war duty but due to the coal business was not sent into the army but joined Uckfield Fire Service. He did 1 day on, 1 day off plus other days in crisis times. During war time it was only Ron and Mr. Cruttenden (who served in the Home Guard) who worked for the coal business. When not working with coal and for the fire service Ron and others would “fire watch” at Ben Wares Potteries & Brickworks in Ridgewood.