Puppydog tails — 16 March 2012

No matter how glum I may feel driving around London the sight of a Pimlico Plumbers’ van with their amusing number plates.

W4TER, DRA1N, BOG 1 or my favourite 701LET is guaranteed to put a smile on my face.

If you want one for your home they have now even produced a diecast model of their iconic blue and white livered vans that you can buy.

I doubt if these miniatures announce “This Pimlico Plumbers van is reversing” as the full sized version does but I guarantee that when you purchase the model it will be as immaculately clean as the originals are maintained.

The company’s founder and Managing Director, Charlie Mullins, is the archetypical London boy made good. Bunking off school at the age of nine to help a local plumber, he couldn’t wait to stop his education early to become an apprentice plumber.

Once he became a journeyman plumber, and after a couple of false starts, he founded Pimlico Plumbers. His the success – and this should be memorised by every aspiring business leader, isn’t through any special business plans, strategies or forecasts, the core values established from the outset are still the key drivers to the business’ success today – quality of service.

Charlie looked at all the bad things people think about the plumbing industry: the ripping off, looking scruffy, dirty old van, making out that you can’t get the part, not finishing the job, never turning up on time. He reckons that if you just do the opposite to all the bad things you can’t fail.

Another unusual aspect of Pimlico Plumbers is their willingness to employ older staff; something that many of my generation have found to their cost, that employers are unwilling or unable to take on middle aged staff. Pimlico’s have gone way beyond that age demographic. George Gibbs, aged 83 of Snodland, sent an appeal out in his local newspaper and some of Pimlico Plumbers employees who lived in the area brought the paper in for Charlie to read. The boss, who has appeared on Channel 4’s The Secret Millionaire, was impressed and hired Gibbs as a van driver. Pimlico’s have in the past employed even older staff, Buster Martin, who sadly passed away in April, was Britain’s oldest employee at 104.

Now Pimlico Plumbers is on the search for classic ‘Crappers’ and plumbing icons for its new museum featuring bathrooms from the past 150 years; Victorian toilets, art-deco basins from the 1930s and of course Thomas Crapper originals.

Charlie Mullins whose client list includes Harry Hill, Jack Dee and Helena Bonham Carter is always keen to promote his trade, claims that plumbing is the world’s second oldest profession and the skills and innovations of the industry have touched everyone’s lives. His new museum showcases a range of quirky exhibits that demonstrate the ingenuity of pluming engineers and bring back memories for visitors.

Entry to the museum in Sail Street is free with a collection box for nominated charities and it has to be near the top of London’s most quirky museums.

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(2) Readers Comments

  1. There must be a few classic cisterns etc in the old sub-surface public loos that are locked away all over town these days – someone should get down there with the wire cutters and crowbars… 😉

    • Good idea, but some loos have been entombed in concrete. One day archaeologists will unearth the buried Oxford Street toilets and theorise on the purpose of a urinal.

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