Some of our memories of FJ

"I was 19, from Holland and working in the mines in Tassie when I got lead poisoning and the doctor told me if I went back to the mines, I'd be back in hospital in two weeks.  I didn't know what to do next but I knew I wanted to live near the sea.  I flew to Melbourne and got a taxi to the train station and asked for a train to take me somewhere by the sea.  They said there's a train leaving in 10 mins for Warrnambool and I said how will I know when I get there and they said the train doesn't go any further, Warrnambool is at the end of the line!  So that's how I ended up in Warrnambool.  I went to Fletcher Jones Factory to see if they had any work and Mr Jones himself said "I don't think we have any work for you but how about I give you two weeks work just to get you started." I ended up working for him for 29years!  

He was a very good manager.  He recognised people with leadership qualities and that's how he ran things.  He treated everybody as a human being equal to himself.  He used to say if you've to make a decision - don't make it in the night in the dark - make it in the morning when it's light.  

FJ had a shop in Burnie in Tasmania but it wasn't doing very well and he decided to buy the milk bar across the road and move the shop into there.  On the Friday, he stood outside the milk bar that he now owned and gave everything away - all the goods and the fittings, everything. He gave it all away for free.    Then we moved everything from our shop across the road on the weekend and on Monday we had a shop on the other side of the street and it started to do very well." Dirk Pronk - Boilermaker with FJs from 1953-1982   

"I met Dirk at a dance at the Palais in Warrnambool.  He was a good dancer and a good looker as well!  We reared 8 children and I always felt secure because I knew Dirk had a job to go to in all the 29 years he worked for FJs.  Our kids used to all look forward to the FJ Christmas picnics in the gardens - Santa used to climb over the roof and come down on the ladder and give such lovely presents.  When Dirk was sick, FJ offered to send him to Melbourne to a specialist and said he would pay for the treatment.  He was just such a kind man.  Did you know he used to lead community singing in the Town Hall during World War 2 - just to lift people's spirits." Colleen Pronk

FJ workers made and built the diving board at the Warrnambool swimming pool. Top Left: Ron Tucker, Middle: Dirk Pronk and Les HullBrown, Bottom: Wal Ferguson.  Photo: Dirk and Colleen Pronk
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If you would like to share images, stories or anecdotes about Fletcher Jones, the man or the business, please contact the Project Coordinator, Julie Eagles, through this website or contact via the Save the Silver Ball and Fletcher’s Gardens Facebook Page.  

We'd also love your feedback about our website and your favourite stories.  You can also let us know if you think we've got anything wrong, misspelt or left out.