When Henry Munton first began repairing T V sets in the 1950s they were housed in wooden cabinets, had 12in screens and you had to draw the lounge curtains in order to see the picture properly.
“They were very heavy things and the valves inside got very hot,” said Henry.
“They would break down regularly and you would collect them, bring them to the shop, repair them and take them back.
“Nobody could have envisaged then how these things would be now – televisions and radios are now so reliable they don’t need repairing. If they break, people just get a new one.”
Henry has just retired from Knights electrical store in High Street Oakham, a day before his 70th birthday.
He had spent 42 years with the company and 54 years all together as a television engineer. In recent years he has been Knights’ delivery driver as well.
Henry, who was born at the nursing home in Mill Street now occupied by Calico, has lived in Oakham all his life and his parents were Oakham people too.
His father ran Munton & Son builders and decorating business from the family home in the High Street.
Henry left what was then the Central School at 16 and thought about getting a job in antiques restoration before deciding on radios and televisions. That kind of thing was in its infancy and I thought I would have a good future in it,” he said.
He began work at Garners ironmongers and electrical shop, now the TSB, spent a year in the electrical department of the Co-op in Melton Mowbray and then, back in Oakham, spent four years at Westmorelands electrical shop.
He started at Knights in 1970 when the present building was mainly a house owned by Mr and Mrs Harry Knight with son and daughter-in-law Peter and Pauline Knight also involved in the business.
“I can remember my first day here,” he said.
“I remember walking through the front door – the shop was much smaller then – and being taken to the back where all these TV sets were on the floor waiting to be repaired. There were more in a workshop upstairs.
“They had stacked up a bit as Mr Knight, a TV engineer himself, had been too busy in the shop to deal with them.”
He said he had really enjoyed the work.
“There’s the challenge of repairing the item and the pleasure of going round to customers’ houses having sorted out their problem.
“But repairs have more or less come to an end. I get called out to sort out problems people have with their satellite reception but it’s a far cry from spending half a day converting a set to ITV for instance.”
Henry was paid £1 10 shillings (£1.50) a week when he started work – and £1 went to his mother for his board.
He says his wife Susan has plans laid out for his retirement.
“I’m not planning to do a lot but I think she has plans set in stone for me getting the house sorted, decorating and doing the garden,” he said.
“My wife is in a wheelchair now which limits us a bit for travelling.”
But the couple have done a fair bit of globetrotting – they have been to India, South Africa and the Cayman Islands, as well as to many European holiday spots.
And there is also golf – Henry has been a member of the Stoke Rochford club for 30 years and has a handicap of 16.
The couple have two children – Andrew, 38, a planning director for Bellway Homes and Joanne, 36. Joanne and husband Wayne Parkinson have two children, Calia, three, and Lucia, 20 months.
“I’ve had a very enjoyable time here at Knights,” Henry said. “The staff and everyone involved are all very friendly.”
Pat Walne, joint owner of Knights with husband Murray, said Henry would be greatly missed.
“His dedication and his charm are very much part of Knights,” she said. “All the customers know him and trust him. It really is the end of an era.”
A retirement party was held for Henry at the Coach House Inn in South Luffenham. Among his retirement presents was membership of Leicestershire Cricket Club for 2013.
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