A trip to the dogs gave retired store owner Cyril South the idea for powering his home-made deckchair lathe just after the War.
Mr Smith, 73, of Lime Tree Road, Canvey, came up with the innovative device in 1947 when he lived in Stratford when material goods and industrial parts were in short supply. After watching the fake-hare on a rope at greyhound races get pulled around the track by an old car engine, he tried the same principle using a bicycle to power his lathe. Mr Smith said: “I set it up with the bicycle to turn the lathe and my brother pedalled the cycle. But it was too tiring and didn’t really work.” Undeterred Mr South tried the lathe with a small engine and his deckchair business was born. It ran for four years before competition from a recovering British industry folded up his home-based business. turned out a good idea
In 1973 he moved to South Woodham Ferrers and set up a general store, next moving to Rayleigh in 1984 and then to Canvey two years ago. Mr Smith was originally selling his near 50-year-old invention because of lack of space but decided to keep hold of it. He said: “I reckon it should go in the Tate Gallery, especially when you see them putting bricks on display there.”