A little of the history of the Bedford Family by Lyndon Bedford: In 1840 New Zealand Mauri Chiefs signed for England to be their peers. Soon after the English started to emigrate there and at the same time began a gold rush. This was on the north island (don’t know about the south island).
The Bedford family who lived in the North of England arrived in New Zealand and started a post office and blacksmiths in Puriri. Soon things changed and they moved to Turua near the Coromandel.
Jumping family history some, my Grandfather came to England aged 26 years to fight in the First World War with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs). He met my grandmother here in England at that time and married. They both returned to New Zealand and soon after my grandfather (Charlie) started a garage and engineering workshop in Turua backing onto the river named the Thames by Captain Cook in honour of Queen Victoria.
Eric Bedford was born in 1920 and Ken, my dad in 1924, they also had a sister Iris.
In 1926 Charlie was emptying the petrol tank of one of the many new and second hand cars in the garage. He found the container he was using was not big enough and in reaching for another knocked the mains inspection Lamp off the car. As the light hit the floor and smashed, the petrol caught fire burning down the garage, workshop and destroying all the cars.
My grandmother then wanted to return to live in England and that is how Eric and Ken came to England as New Zealanders at an early age.
Neither ever returned to see where they came from but I did a few years ago and with the newspaper archives I also found out that Charlie was a town councillor.
So that is a brief résumé of the start of how the family came to be in England.
They bought a house in Ilford and Charlie started the only the second garage in Watford. This also had an engineering workshop. He commuted to and from it from Ilford each day in his Bentley.
Jumping some again he then had a new factory (Bedford Products) built on the Watford Bypass. This ran through the Second World War making parts for the war effort. Ken was on the jig borer and Eric worked there too.
In 1949 another new factory was built at 280 High Street, Watford which incorporated Bedford Products and ETA Instruments. Bedford Products was the engineering side making many things for people like Scammel Lorries and Rolls Royce among others. ETA Instruments made own brand products like Pilots’ helmet visors that just about every pilot during, and for a long time after, the war, wore.
Very accurate twin pan weighing scales and triple beam balances were other products. A damp tester of small parts or materials was designed and made for the scientists. Woodworking saw benches became very well known. A nice little story on the Triple Beam Balances was the price: at around £20 in the late 1950's to early 1960’s sales were beginning to flag. Dad thought about it and came up with a solution. Reasoning that many people think if something is cheap it is no good, Dad tripled the price to over £60 and they sold like hot cakes to just about everybody including schools. Lesson there!
I have some of these products and will post pictures in due course.
Eta Engines of course started in 1948, a lot of that history I am sure many of you know already but I may be able to add a little as I go along.