Charles Harold Godwin FIMMM (Obit)
Charles Harold Godwin FIMMM, who died on 13 August 2009 aged 94, could actually remember Dr Leo Baekeland, the inventor of Bakelite, from the Midlands factory. He spent over 47 years in the laminated plastics industry. He was a life member of IOM3 and one of its longest-serving members.
Charles was born on 24 February 1915 at Castle Bromwich. After attending the village school, often arriving on the milkman’s cart, he went to the King Edward VI Grammar school in Birmingham. There he displayed an aptitude for rifle shooting. He loved poetry, and revelled in rehearsing his memorised favourites, which he stored in a special book in the nursing home where he spent the last few years of his life.
Following courses at technical colleges in Aston and Birmingham, Charles received a national certificate in electrical engineering and a City and Guilds in technology of plastics with a silver medal. He began work at Bakelite in Tyseley, Birmingham, in 1932, becoming foreman before moving to the northeast in 1941.
Involvement with the plastics industry
Charles was elected to membership of the former Plastics Institute in 1938, attaining The Plastics Rubber Institute (PRI) Meritorious Service Award in 1984 and becoming a Fellow three years later. His affection and enthusiasm for the Institute were boundless, as was his disappointment at missing, due to illness, his first AGM in 62 years.
After serving on the committees of various sections, he became Chairman of the Merseyside and North Wales branch and, with his wife Madge, organised several annual dinner dances. He aimed to promote the PRI within local industry and encourage younger colleagues. He instigated the ties which marked the 40, 50 and 60 years’ service of the wearers.
So often his dogged determination to get things done was evident – he believed that it was worth looking for solutions and persisting until they were implemented. Certain standards mattered to him. He never lost his happiness at the sight of a freshly laundered cotton handkerchief and he loathed cracked cups. At work, he would drink from such a vessel then nudge it off the edge of his desk.
In 1942 he married Madge, who he met at Bakelite. For the next 10 years he was based at the Bushing Company, followed by North British Plastics in Gateshead, after which he held management positions at Permali in Gloucester, and in St Helens, Manchester and Preston, before retiring in 1980.
Charles and Madge moved to St Helens in 1955 and had a house built to their specifications. He did the electrical wiring and together they laid the paths. He found great entertainment in being the husband of a Guide Captain. They became deeply involved in the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and loved organising fundraisers – making toaster covers and wooden stools with tapestry tops to sell. Charles was eventually awarded a RNLI silver badge.
Charles loved being a grandfather – encouraging the musical activities of Fiona, Stewart and Catherine. He would have delighted in their rendering of ‘Blaydon Races’ at his funeral. It was a joyful occasion as some of his eccentricities were recounted. A floral anchor tribute was later cast into the water by RNLI volunteers in Hoylake. His great grandson, Joshua, who gave him so much pleasure, was with him during his final days.
Madge died in 2007 and Charles is survived by his daughter Carolyn, her husband Sandy and their family.