Boss who worked his way up chamois firm for 51 years is retiring
A GENERAL manager at leather manufacturer J&T Beaven in Holt put down his tools and retired this week, after 51 years. Mike Raines, 66, joined the firm in 1962, at the age of 15 and is the fourth generation of his family to work there.
The company, established in 1770, was famous for producing leather materials, particularly gloves, but since 1965 the business has focused on making chamois leathers. Mr Raines started out as a labourer in the warehouse, before being a dispatcher. His extensive knowledge of leather led him to become the general manager, which he has been for the past 30 years. He said: “The village supplied most of the workers, but when motorbikes and cars became more frequent, people would travel from further afield.”
In the 1960s more than 400 people worked at the company, but today there are 14.
Mr Raines said: “A lot of people got replaced by machinery.” The grandfather of ten is looking forward to spending time with his family and returning to photography after almost losing his sight, due to a detached retina. Mr Raines and his wife, Christine, have an allotment where they live in Calne. He said: “We keep trying to do the best we can with the best we have got. Now I will have more time to tend to it. “I bought a shed two Christmases ago, so I could put my train set in there, but I have never had time to do it, so I hope to now.”
A gift from colleagues was presented at a celebration meal at the Tollgate Inn.
Francis Holmes, of Trowbridge, who joined the firm in 1968, said: “It is the end of an era. To have a long family tradition was important. Forty-five years together is a long time and, although we had different tasks, we have always worked as a team.”
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