IN August last year, CFJ learned about one Keith Shenton based in Chingford. After some research, it appeared Keith, at 85, may well be the UK’s oldest floorlayer. We held several interviews with him regarding his life story and decided to serialise it in CFJ.
Keith was born to a policeman in Nottingham on 31 July 1934. After he left school at 15 and he went for an interview with flooring company, Fitchett & Woollacott in Popham Street. There, he sanded woodblocks, preparing them for schools, but the work was tedious, so he was sent out to learn how to lay floors with an experienced floorlayer. In those days, the main flooring used was Armstrong Accotile and Accoflex.
Keith then progressed to tongue-and-groove, the traditional method of fitting flooring, where he used the so-called ‘secret nail process’. He became a skilled operator using a sanding machine with a 12in roller. On 6 February 1952, aged only 17, Keith was laying Accotile flooring at a bungalow in Watnall, an area of settlement in Nottinghamshire, when he heard King George VI’s death announced on the radio. A few months later, he was drafted into the army to serve in the Korean War (South Korea had been invaded by North Korea on 25 June 1950).
After returning from the war, Keith indulged again in a life of flooring, and through a long career, eventually came to start his own flooring company, Regent Flooring.