The Ripon Hornblower

The Wakeman of Ripon

The history of  George Pickles the Ripon Hornblower from 2004 to 2015 ( To see George in action on video go to )    

I was born on the 12th May 1937 in the West Riding mill town of Dewsbury.That was the day of the coronation of King George 6th (Father of the our present monarch H.M. Queen Elizabeth). It was decreed by some local officials that the first born male child on that day would be known as the Coronation Baby and would receive a solid silver cup and spoon bearing the Royal crest, all providing the parents agreed to christen the child 'George' after the King. I must have arrived early in the day because we got the silver and I was called George, the Coronation Baby.

My Father was a Miner and my Mother was a Mill Lass. I had a brother Wilfred who was about 18 months older than me, and later I was to have two younger sisters, Patricia and Rosemary.

We were brought up during the war years and suffered the difficult times of absent fathers, uncles and elder brothers away at war, and others in reserved occupations playing their part in the Civil Defence units after a hard days toil. There was the air raids, the rationing and the general hard and often tragic times that touched every family in the land. When the war ended there were still many austere years to endure before things returned to anywhere near normal.

I like my brother had a basic Secondary Modern education and left school at 15. The only prospects of employment in that area was either in the Textile Mills or down the Mines.  Fortunately and bucking the trend, my brother and me both secured an apprenticeship at a local Machine Tool Company. There we learned the art, craft and skills of producing high precision metal cutting Lathes,Milling Machines and other Machine Tools. Also during that time we both studied Mechanical Engineering at Batley Technical College.

On completion of that apprenticeship, here again like my brother before me, I was called up into the RAF to do my required period of compulsary military service. After some very hard basic training followed by advanced training, I was eventually posted to a Fighter Station on the East coast of the U.K. as a Flight Mechanic. During my time there, along with others like me, I played my modest part in servicing, arming, fuelling and despatching jet fighters to patrol and keep safe our sky's from intruders at the hieght of the cold war.

When I was released from the RAF I returned to Machine Tool Engineering only to find the industry in a recession, and there was only work for three days a week. Despondent, I turned my back on Engineering and became a City Center Police Officer, serving with the Halifax County Borough Constabulary. After a few short years the situation reversed, industry was booming again and good income could be earned with my qualifications, so I resigned from the Police and returned to the Machine Tool Industry. After a while I progressed from the shop floor to Service Engineer, then Sales Engineer, Sales Management and eventually in 1971 I set up my own Machine Tool Consultancy/Sales business. Lilian my wife and life long sweetheart who I had married immediately on my release from the RAF, was my Co-Director and Secretary. Although we had by that time been blessed with two lovely daughters, Karen and Helen and a fine son Stephen, we managed to run the business betwen us through good times and bad successfully balancing our time between earning a living and being good and responsible parents. For the last 15 years of our working life, Stephen who had also studied Machine Tools was our partner in the business and the three of us made a great team. Lilian and me retired to Ripon in 2002 at the age of 65.

Along the way I was always involved in committee work relating to charity, fund raising and other good causes. I also served on Industial/Engineering Bodies and Associations. All with the full support of Lilian and our family.

Involvements and recognitions along the way -

Completed Indentured Machine Tool Engineering qualification - 1958.

Served RAF Fighter Command- Fight Mechanic- Meteor Squadron 1956-58

Finalised studies of Mechanical Engineering at Batley Technical College - 1958

Halifax County Borough Police Officer - 1960

Sales Manager Eltherington Machine Tools Ltd. - 1965

General Manager Garner Machine Tools - 1968

Managing Director George Pickles and Company - 1971

Fellow of the Institute of Sales Engineers - 1974

Honary Life Vice President Association of Engineering Management - 1977

Fellow of the Institute of Sales Management - 1979

Active Member of the Royal Airforces Association since 1980

Managing Director Woodcock and Booths Ltd - 1981

Managing Director PEMMSA Machine Tools - 1985

Active Member of the National Service Veterans Alliance since 1997

Retired to Ripon seeking a life in the Dales and thoroughly enjoyng life. 2002.

Appointed to the post of Ripon Hornblower - 2004 and served until 2015

Winner of Jewel of Ripon award for services to Tourism - 2009

Overall Winner of Jewel of Ripon award for Services to the Community - 2009

Appointed Governor of Ripon College -2009

Elected Councillor representing Ripon at Harrogate Borough District Council Level - 2011

Granted YORKSHIRE PATRON status by Tourist Agency Welcome to Yorkshire - 2014

Received Citizenship Award from Ripon City Council for Services as Hornblower - 2015



Publications -

The Amateurs Machine Tool Guide (Technical) - 1998

At Your Majesty's Disposal (Terrorist novel based on fact) - 2002

The greatest achievement in life for me and Lilian is the pride and joy our son Stephen, and daughters Karen and Helen have brought us in the success they are all making of their lives mainly through their own efforts and standards, and together with their spouses the sheer joy of the three Grandsons and a beautifull Grandaughter, they have brought into our life and created a wider family we are so very proud of. I am indeed a very fortunate man. 


For more information on Ripon and Yorkshire please go to -

Or, to see George in action, Setting the Watch, they say no one does it like George please go to -