LONG Sutton has lost a much-loved businessman whose family electrical goods shop opened the year the war ended and is still going strong today.
In 1947 Maurice Smith (82) demonstrated the area’s first TV set – objects and faces barely visible through the “snow” – to a Free Press reporter at Pledgers in Long Sutton Market Place.
He could still remember being out until midnight for weeks before the Queen’s coronation setting up aerials and installing sets in people’s homes so they could watch the big event on the new medium.
He’d started work full-time repairing radios at 14 and was taken on by Dick Pledger when he set up shop in July 1945. In 1967 as manager he bought the business from his boss.
Maurice died last week after a long illness, leaving his wife Gwen, children David, Graham, Gill Wysoczanski and Jenny Sanderson, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Until he fell ill three years ago he regularly popped into Pledgers, now much expanded on the same spot where it was launched in a cramped front room all those years ago.
His daughter Gill, who runs the store today with brothers David and Graham, said: “Dad’s heart was in Long Sutton. He loved the place, and he loved the business he was in. He was a very active Chamber of Trade member before he retired.
“Six years ago we celebrated Pledgers’ 60-year anniversary and he was so proud.
“He’d always kept up with developments in technology and he’d lived through TV coming in, video recorders and DVDs, so it really annoyed him at the end that he couldn’t understand what’s going on with the switchover to digital, he just couldn’t grasp it!
“Pledgers started out doing repairs for radios with very little stock to sell, and the repairs side for TVs and radios remained a big part of the business right into the 1980s.
“Dad and Mum had both worked in the business full-time and both enjoyed retirement making use of their caravan, taking it to Skegness, but he still came in to the shop a lot before he became ill.”