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Muckleston Family History Group

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A Gentleman Retires



This is an article from the “Thames Mills” magazine Purfleet November 1952. It was sent to us by Michael John Muckleston who is the Grandson of Ben (real name Arthur Lennard Muckleston).


On the 29th of this month one more of the old guard retires. After 40 years of good and faithful service without even a small black mark, Mr Ben Muckleston, that prince of good fellows takes his pension.


Ben began his service, ‘way back in 1912, in the Jetty gang. Things were not so good in those days. You had to be rough, tough and willing. Quoting Ben, “We worked 12 hours a day manhandling almost everything that came to the works; no electric cranes or trucks, and, believe me, we did work”. After that so I understand most chappies walked home; local buses were still things of the future. Ben himself walked to Rainham (approx 5 miles).


In spite of that Ben maintains that life was happier in those days. Well he should know. For relaxation Ben swam across the river and also took a great interest in football. In 1914 when the country called, Ben was one of the first to volunteer. With the first Battalion Royal Fusiliers, he fought on the bloody Ypres Salient. After months of blood and horror, Jerry stopped him with a bullet. He lived to fight again in the Egyptian desert, Salonika, Greece and against the Bulgarians in the Italian Alps. He got around a bit didn’t he? Of the present day army, Ben has some very definite views. He says “The British soldier will fight to the last breath, it’s always been that way and always will be. But the boys of today need a bit more discipline and a lot of smartening up”. Perhaps he is right, I wouldn’t know; but I do know that he can still teach a lot of us to walk upright.


Still in the swim.


War over, Ben returned to work in 1919. He was warmly congratulated by the late Mr T Lockyer. As an outlet for his great strength Ben continued to swim the river and play football.



A family man, with a great respect for home life, his two sons inherited his love of justice and fought in Africa against Rommel, whilst Ben himself once again shouldered a bunhuk in the Home Guard.


(A bundhuk is a soldiers term for a rifle – comes from Urdu.)


Because of his age Ben will be leaving us soon, although I am quite sure that he could still work a great many of us off our feet. The Mill will lose a great personality. Never has he raised his voice against any man. His loyalty is unimpeachable. His willingness to help a lame dog over a stile is proverbial.


Quoting Ben, “I have enjoyed every day I have worked here”. He feels pretty deeply about leaving and although his numerous hobbies will keep him well occupied during his retirement, his thoughts will always be with us.