Picture Above: Atkin & Son in the early 80's carrying out cradle work.
Last November 2016, I had the pleasure to attend and support a friend Rich Atkin as his father’s business in the Northern City of Sheffield, Atkin & Son Window Cleaning & Support Services, celebrates its 70th year in business.
George Leonard the father of Peter Atkin, the father of my friend Rich Atkin formed the business on the 1st of October 1946 just after the Second World War.
He had saved up to buy the window cleaning equipment he had needed and with his money he went out and bought a ladder, bucket, leather and scrim. As do most window cleaners, he started off cleaning houses but then he quickly moved on to include public houses (Pubs).
Peter Atkin picks up the family history, “My older brother George Albert Atkin helped my father as they both worked the window cleaning round they had built up, later they were joined by my other brother James Eric Atkin”.
It was not long before they got their big break by winning a contract to provide window-cleaning services at Hampton House in Sheffield. They quickly gained another contract to provide window-cleaning services for Record Ridgeway Tools also in Sheffield. They would used a large ‘market style’ barrow for transporting the ladders and equipment around.
At this stage the business started to grow really quickly. They acquired another contract to clean windows at Rotherham Technical College. This meant they had to push their barrow from Attercliffe in Sheffield to the Rotherham area. This was not ideal and so it was decided eventually that they would purchase three old bread vans, one of which was used for spare parts.
By this point, the business really started to expand and more contracts were won mainly from Sheffield & Rotherham Councils.
Peter says, “This was at a time when I started to work for the business as a window cleaner. I will always remember being told I had to clean the windows on two new industrial contracts (Hatfields & Brown Baileys).
These were very dangerous sites to work on and required me to take risks I was uncomfortable doing. Everything went very well for a number of years and we gained a lot of large commercial buildings which had to be cleaned from cradles”.
The business was now providing window-cleaning services to companies like British Telecom, Inland Revenue and The General Post Office.
Peter recalls his sadness and a low point for the business. He lost one of his brothers to heart disease and the recession hit shortly after this; it was a very difficult time for all. With the closure of the steel works and mines, consequently prices dropped.
“Around about this time my other brother decided to retire and pass the business on to me, a few years later he also passed away. I managed to ride out the recession but lost a lot of contracts, eventually we started to tender for a number of large regional contracts that covered the Yorkshire area and won”. We were back on top.
“As they say; As one door closes, another one opens…. and here we are today”.
Picture Below: Son, Rich Atkin presenting to his father, Peter Atkin, a 7oth Anniversary plaque. Picture Below Bottom: Atkin & Son today.