No VAT or credit cards
25 November 2020
The main reason for starting this blog was to create a record of these uncertain times. However, here's a post with a rather different historical dimension.
As regular followers of the site will know, Terry Heal retired at the end of June from his position as managing director of Bradfords Tool Hire, rounding off a career in hire spanning more than 50 years.
Terry tells me he was tidying up some paperwork in his attic the other day and he came across a hire price list dated 15 March 1967 from Uni-Rents. He joined the Southampton-based hirer two years later.
It gives a fascinating insight into contemporary customer requirements, society and the ways in which people did business then.
“The prices are all in pounds, shillings and pence, and I’m not sure how many hire professionals will understand that today,” says Terry.
“As well as items like gardening and decorating equipment, and contractor’s tools, there is quite a variety of things offered for hire including tents, sleeping bags and roof racks that people might need when going on holiday.
“In addition, the fleet included household items that tended to be hired by hotels and individuals when guests came to stay, such as bunk beds, carry cots and high chairs. I wonder how that would fit with today’s hire company policies or Health & Safety regulations?”
All transactions were in cash upfront - there were no credit cards back then - and there was no VAT to worry about (that was introduced in 1973, following the UK’s entry into the European Economic Community).
Vehicle maintenance equipment like hub pullers, jacks and grease guns show that people were willing to do many of their own car repairs back then.
And other things too expensive to own were hired for occasional use, like typewriters, sewing machines, 4-track tape recorders and even cine film projectors (together with “films suitable for children’s parties”). Some might have to Google a few of those items mentioned!
At the time, Uni-Rents had depots in Southampton, Bournemouth, Poole and Reading. And it had a can-do attitude, stating, “If what you want is not listed, please ask - we probably have it.”
Incidentally, I thought some other details relating to 15 March 1967 might be of interest. For example, some quick research shows that Manchester United were top of the old English First Division at the time, and would go on to win the League that season.
Topping the charts in the US was The Beatles’ Penny Lane, while in this country Engelbert Humperdinck’s Please Release Me was the number one single, with the top album being the soundtrack to The Sound of Music.
Times certainly have changed!