Shawcraft also continued to produce scale concept models for the architectural and engineering industry and carried out occasional prop-building work for the film industry. This type of work continued well into the 1980s.
Wayne Houchin lived in the area at the time and recounts:
"From about 1979 to 1982, (I was 9-12 years old) my father worked as a lorry driver for Y. Goldberg, wood merchants on the corner of Rockingham Road and Waterloo Road, Uxbridge. I used to go to work with him in the school holidays and on Saturday mornings.
At Goldberg's there was a warehouse, probably about 20,000 sq/ft. In the warehouse, tucked away at the back, were five or six Daleks made by Shawcraft, who were just round the corner. Goldberg's used to store them for Bill. Needless to say, I spent many hours scooting round the warehouse inside one of my favourite 'monsters', from one of my favourite TV programmes.
I think they were mainly grey with dark grey hardware, but I do remember for sure that there was one black and gold Dalek. That was my favourite. A couple were not in the best state, with panels coming away and the mesh in the neck area torn. I also used to go 'round to Shawcraft with my dad with vegetables from our garden for Bill. There were the original blueprints for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang framed on the wall".
Bill Roberts retired and sold Shawcraft in July, 1987 to David Harrington of L & R Engineering. The company continued at Rockingham Road until it was finally wound down by liquidator’s Ian Holland and Co., who were appointed on the 19th January 1998.
The distinctive Shawcraft van, pictured in 1967.
Bill Roberts had moved from his Southall terraced home back in 1956 and retired to Swallowfield, a detached house in Swallow Street, Iver Heath, in the grounds of which he designed and built a large detached bungalow, where he died in November 1990. His wife had died six months earlier, in May. They were survived by a daughter, Annette, and two sons. Young Bill developed a specialist classic-car restoration business in the Thames Valley while David, the younger son, has been involved in a small way in producing effects over the years. Now his own son Matt Roberts is employed in the same industry as a special effects supervisor recently working on Game Of Thrones.
The former Shawcraft workshops in Rockingham Road, Uxbridge were recently up for sale and their eventual fate is not known. It is possible that they could be demolished for re-development. This would be a sad end to a building which has helped to create so much history. Many would argue that such a place deserves preservation, recognition and a blue plaque. Time will tell.
The information within this history was gathered together from the following sources:
richingspark.com (article by K. DeMaurney Gibbons, originally published in the Richings Park Gazette).
airandspace.si.edu (Smithsonian national Air and Space Museum)
collectair.com (information on Victor Woodason)
doctorwhomagazine.com (Doctor Who Magazine).
Thanks to Wayne Houchin for his 1980s warehouse recollections.
Special thanks to Dave Roberts, Julie Killick and Mervyn Loynes for supplying corrections and additional information.
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