Our latest in our Interview with a Locksmith Series continues with Banham who have trading as locksmiths for over 90 years. Our interview is with John Sloman, he’s one of Banham’s longest serving locksmiths and has been with them for around 40 years.
Company Name: Banham
Location: London and the south of England
Years Trading: 90 years
MLA Approved Company Profiles: Kensington Branch, Golders Green Branch, Guildford Branch, Maidenhead Branch
1. So tell us a little bit of a back story about yourself, when did you become a Locksmith and how long have been a Locksmith?
I left school in 1971 and worked for another family-run but smaller locksmiths for 6 months in Central London, however my train fare was almost as much as my wages so I left and went on to do 5 years training at Croydon Lock Services. On the 18th August 1976 I started work at Banham and I’ve just completed my 40th year of service with them. I started with them as one of their first emergency service locksmiths out of Kensington and now they have a fleet and I’m training two new apprentices at the moment.
2. How did you originally get into Locksmithing and Why?
A family friend worked as a Locksmith and had arranged for me to work with him over the Summer of 1970. However, at the age of 14 I was too young, so only completed one week of work. The following year I decided I wanted to take it up as a profession.
There are a lot of badly trained, rogue traders out there who can give locksmiths in general a bad name but working for a trusted name means you are learning from the best
3. What advice do you have for people wanting to become a locksmith?
I always tell them to take any locks apart to understand how they work before they can get the proper experience of actually opening locks. Never give up as you’re always learning. Patience is important as it’s a real skill that is required. There are a lot of badly trained, rogue traders out there who can give locksmiths in general a bad name but working for a trusted name means you are learning from the best.
4. How has being a member of MLA helped you as a locksmith?
It’s a good organisation for meeting other locksmiths and learning from each other. MLA certainly promotes a good code of practice and helps maintain a better level of skills and ethics within the industry.
5. Are there any funny stories from your time in the industry that stick out?
I was sent to complete an estimate to change some locks at a church. The Vicar met me at the front door and led to me the offices to show me what locks needed changing. He then said that the next lock was in the Vestry and started to walk through the church down the aisle with me following him. I was busy writing in my notebook what the previous locks were and just before the Vicar got to the altar he suddenly bent down on one knee to do the sign of the cross. This caught me completely by surprise and I ended up over his shoulder to which I muttered under my breath ‘Soppy Sod!’
6. What are your plans for the future?
To carry on completing my work to the best of my ability for the people of London and training younger locksmiths to step into my shoes when I finally retire.