Howsafe | Celebrating 40 Years in Business

This year Howsafe celebrates its 40th birthday and as we approach middle age we thought we’d take a trip down memory lane with a brief history of our company.

When Howsafe’s first iconic mobile shop first took to the road in 1977, Star Wars was enjoying its first theatrical run at Peterborough’s ABC Cinema on Broadway and Peterborough Power Station was still standing at the site that would later become Rivergate. Planning permission had been granted for the Queensgate shopping centre, but the complex would not open for another 5 years.

The very next year the company was issued with its certificate of incorporation becoming Howsafe Ltd and it’s from here that we chart the beginning of the company as we know it.

91a Eastfield Road, Peterborough

1978 was a mixed year for popular music, with the Bee Gees, Boney M and John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John selling huge numbers alongside novelty records including Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs and the Smurf Song. In the world of sport Argentina beats the Netherlands 3-1 to win the World Cup and Muhammad Ali makes hsitory by beating Leon Spinks in a rematch to win the world heavyweight title for an unprecedented third time.

In those days the PPE was categorised under the general terms of industrial safety equipment and workwear. Rigid Derby boots and riggers protected the feet and cotton drill boiler suits and warehouse coats were the uniform of choice for many businesses. The aluminium dust masks of the 1970s are staggeringly primitive when compared to the respirators of today.

Howsafe’s first premises was a back bedroom in a bungalow in Stanground, before rapidly growing stocks necessitated a move to our first commercial property on Eastfield Road in Peterborough. The location, just off Padholme Road and close to the city centre proved to be ideal for serving the city’s thriving business community. During the time at Eastfield Road, Howsafe also occupied the property next door, operating a shoe shop called “Two Left Feet”. The premises was occupied later by another well known P-Town business, Rudkins Electrical.

In 1983 the company once again outgrew its home and moved to a larger premises on Queens Drive West (formerly a bakery), a premises nestled between Aspect Photography and the Queens Drive Infant’s School. For a period the premises housed a shoe shop called “Penhaligon Footwear”, but for most of its life the showroom was dedicated solely to industrial workwear and safety equipment. A 110m² retail showroom space and massively increased warehousing capacity allowed Howsafe to increase its product portfolio and workforce to cope with the growing demand for PPE and expanding customer base.

As the business became busier so did footfall and parking at Queens Drive West became a real issue for the company and for residents. In 2007 the old site at Queens Drive West was redeveloped, and the old bakery was demolished and replaced with a residential development.

At this time Peterborough’s Eastern Indutry was expanding quickly. New trading estates were being built, attracting new and established businesses. Howsafe settled upon two brand new units (later acquiring a third) on the Edgerley Business Park, one of the new commercial developments off Edgerley Drain Road. It is at this location that Howsafe enters its fourth decade of trading.

Howsafe is still a family business with the second generation at the helm. The products may have evolved but the core ethos of the business remains the same – to deliver the best products at competitive prices backed-up by the very best service in the industry.

The Cresset was opened by Her Majesty The Queen in 1978. Today it is a multi-purpose venue, playing host to an exciting and diverse mix of live entertainment community activities, corporate and private events.

cresset [kres-it]
a metal cup or basket often mounted on a pole or suspended from above, containing oil, pitch, a rope steeped in rosin, etc., burned as a light or beacon.

Major Peterborough employers in 1978

Baker Perkins Holdings Ltd (5110)
East Midland Allied Press Ltd (1500)
The Elliott Group of Peterborough Ltd (1157)
Newall Machine Tool Company Ltd (1300)
Perkins Engines Group Ltd
Peter Brotherhood Ltd (1450)
Root Harvesters Ltd (300)
Ross Produce Ltd (1000)

Nene Park is a country park in the city of Peterborough. Opened in 1978, it occupies a site approximately three and a half miles long, from slightly west of Castor to the centre of Peterborough. The Park has three lakes, one of which has a watersports centre which provides sailing, kayaking and windsurfing classes. Another lake has a pedaloe and rowing boat for hire shop, and the third lake contains moorings for boats and has access to the River Nene. Nene Park also has three children’s play areas, located in different points of the Park and a small miniature railway. The main entrance to the Park is served by the Nene Valley Railway station at Ferry Meadows, from which all the Park’s main attractions can be accessed. The eastern end of the Park is also served by Orton Mere and Peterborough Nene Valley stations.

Top 20 UK Singles of 1978

01Boney MRivers Of Babylon / Brown Girl In The Ring
02John Travolta & Olivia Newton-JohnYou're The One That I Want
03John Travolta & Olivia Newton-JohnSummer Nights
04The Bee GeesNight Fever
05The CommodoresThree Times A Lady
06Brian & MichaelMatchstalk Men And Matchstalk Cats And Dogs
07Father Abraham & The SmurfsThe Smurf Song
08AbbaTake A Chance On Me
09Kate BushWuthering Heights
10The Boomtown RatsRat Trap
11WingsMull Of Kintyre / Girl's School
1210ccDreadlock Holiday
13Brotherhood Of ManFigaro
16DartsCome Back My Love
17Gerry RaffertyBaker Street
18Boney MMary's Boy Child
19DartsThe Boy From New York City
20Althia & DonnaUptown Top Ranking

Top 10 Highest-grossing Films of 1978

01GreaseParamount Pictures
02SupermanWarner Bros.
03National Lampoon's Animal HouseUniversal Pictures
04Every Which Way but LooseWarner Bros.
05Heaven Can WaitParamount Pictures
06HooperWarner Bros.
07Jaws 2Universal Pictures
08Revenge of the Pink PantherUnited Artists
09The Deer HunterUniversal Pictures
10Halloween Compass International Pictures

Academy Awards

Academy Awards:

Best Picture: The Deer Hunter – EMI Films/Cimino, Universal
Best Director: Michael Cimino – The Deer Hunter
Best Actor: Jon Voight – Coming Home
Best Actress: Jane Fonda – Coming Home
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Walken – The Deer Hunter
Best Supporting Actress: Maggie Smith – California Suite
Best Foreign Language Film: Get Out Your Handkerchiefs (Preparez vos mouchoirs)

ORACLE was a commercial teletext service first broadcast on the ITV network in the mid-late 1970s.

The first Vauxhall Carlton was introduced in September 1978 as a replacement for the ageing VX1800/VX2300 saloons.

The 1978 World Cup was won by Argentina who beat the Netherlands 3–1.

Outlandos d’Amour is the debut studio album by English rock band The Police, released in November 1978.

Comics & Magazines of 1978

Look-in was a children’s magazine centred on ITV’s television programmes in the United Kingdom, and subtitled “The Junior TVTimes”

2000 AD is most noted for its Judge Dredd stories, and has been contributed to by a number of artists and writers who became renowned in the field internationally, such as Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Brian Bolland and Mike McMahon.

The Beano is the longest running Scottish children’s comic, published by DC Thomson. The comic first appeared on 30 July 1938.

Roy of the Rovers is a British comic strip about the life and times of a fictional footballer named Roy Race, who played for Melchester Rovers.

Starlord was a short-lived weekly British science fiction comic book magazine published by IPC in 1978 as a sister title to 2000 AD, which had been launched the previous year in anticipation of a science fiction boom surrounding Star Wars.

Star Wars comics have been produced by various comic book publishers since the debut of the 1977 film Star Wars. An eponymous series by Marvel Comics began in 1977 with a six-issue comic adaptation of the film and ran for 107 issues, until 1986.

War Picture Library was a British 64-page Pocket library war comic magazine title published by Amalgamated Press/Fleetway (now owned by IPC Magazines) for 2103 issues.

Mandy was a British comic book magazine for girls, published weekly by D. C. Thomson & Co. from 21 January 1967 (#1) to 11 May 1991 (#1,269), with annuals appearing from 1972 until 2007. From 1991 until the 24 May 1997 issue, it was published as a merged comic with Judy. The two then merged with Bunty before ceasing publication completely in 2001.

Whizzer and Chips was a British comics magazine that ran from 18 October 1969 to 27 October 1990, when it merged with the comic Buster. As with most comics of the time, Whizzer and Chips was dated one week ahead of the day it actually appeared on newsstands in Great Britain.

The Beezer (called The Beezer and Topper for the last 3 years of publication) was a British comic that ran from (issues dates) 21 January 1956 to 21 August 1993. Comics that merged into The Beezer during its 37-year run were Cracker in 1976, and Plug in 1979.

Cheeky Weekly was a British comic book magazine published every Monday by IPC Magazines Ltd. It ran for 117 issues from (issues dates) 22 October 1977 to 2 February 1980, failing to be published for 3 weeks in December 1978 due to an industrial dispute.

1978 in Television

September 1978 sees the 15th anniversary of the science fiction show Doctor Who. Tom Baker is the fourth Doctor, accompanied by Louise Jameson as Leela and his popular robotic sidekick K-9. His trademark long scarf, fondness for Jelly Babies and offbeat humour have established his incarnation of the character as a fan favourite.

Blake’s 7 debuts in January, written by creator of the Daleks Terry Nation, attracting 10 million viewers who tune in weekly to watch the exploits of political dissident Roj Blake and his group of rebels who fight against the forces of the Terran Federation.

Return of the Saint sees Ian Ogilvy resurrect the suave Simon Templar, originally played by Roger Moore between 1962 and 1969.

The very first episode of Top Gear airs on BBC2, having started as a BBC Pebble Mill production the previous year.

Larry Grayson succeeds Bruce Forsyth as presenter of The Generation Game.

ITV airs the first episode of Edward & Mrs. Simpson, a seven-part British television series that dramatises the events leading to the 1936 abdication of King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom, who gave up his throne to marry the twice-divorced American Wallis Simpson.

All Creatures Great and Small, Grange Hill and Cheggers Plays Pop debut on BBC1.

Butterflies begins on BBC2.

The South Bank Show, Armchair Thriller and 3-2-1 are first broadcast on ITV.

In 1978 the Nestlé Breakaway was a familiar chocolate treat in the lunch box of many school kids. A trip to the local sweet shop could mean choosing between some Mackintosh’s Tooty Minties, a Rowntrees Nutty Bar,  a pack of Toffos or a Texan chew bar. Meanwhile on telly Cilla Black was the face of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk.

1978 proves to be a big year for literature with several landmark books hitting the shops and the best seller lists. Master of horror Stephen King is notably prolific, releasing The Stand, The Dead Zone and Night Shift with The Long Walk published under his pseudonym Richard Bachman. John Irving’s coming-of-age novel The World According to Garp is a smash hit and the coffee table book Faeries by Brian Froud and Alan Lee introduces readers to a realm of wonder, joy and enchanted danger. Young readers are first introduced to the classics The Snowman by Raymond Briggs and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett.