/ About / Hall Of Fame / Dave Durdan



Dave Durdan is well known in Creech and the Taunton area as a Taunton Deane Borough Councillor, a post he was elected for in 2003. He is also well known as he has worked as a builder in the area since he left school.
He has many friends and acquaintances on the numerous organisations and committees he belongs to. Dave is well known in Creech, Taunton and wider afield and definitely deserves recognition in the Hall of Fame on the Creech website.

No doubt there will be many people who know Dave for his involvement with the Bridgwater and Taunton canal and Somerset Waterways Development Trust (SWDT). In 2008 he helped with a major fund-raising project to purchase a new community boat called “Future Perfect” that runs regular trips for visitors on the canal.

Dave was heavily involved with Creech primary school and the pre-school to help promote a successful bid for a grant for over £57,000 from the Big Lottery “People’s Millions” for the new boat. With additional contributions from Project Taunton, Somerset County Council and SWDT the community boat was launched on the canal on 20th August 2010.

Future Perfect runs trips along the canal for the young and young-at-heart normally starting from the Creech canal car park. Dave is often at the helm as skipper most Saturdays and Sundays in the warmer months and the very popular ‘Meet Santa!’ trips on the two weekends prior to Christmas.

Dave was born in 1946, in Laburnum Street, Taunton and grew up, as an only child, with his grandparents in their house that was also their business they run as Nutley’s Draper and Outfitter’s shop. He would help out in the shop and often deliver shirts on his black bike that his grandfather bought for him, aged 8, from Joey Blackwell’s bike shop in Canon Street, Taunton where ‘Tyres and Exhausts R Us’ are now situated. This was Dave’s first bike, of the former “sit up and beg” design, that he has fond memories of.


Grandmother Winifred Nutley, Grandfather William Nutley, Dave (age 7), Grandfather's Mother

Dave went to Priory Junior and Seniors boys school in Cranmer Road, Taunton leaving Seniors just before his 15th birthday in 1961. The Senior section of the school has since closed when it amalgamated with Monkton Heathfield secondary school. The school was renamed Archbishop Cranmer C of E Community Primary School and now provides schooling for both boys and girls from age 3 onwards.

Dave recalls how, like other children, he wanted to earn extra pocket money and became quite well known in Taunton as a lad running the morning paper rounds on Lane Estate and around Hamilton Road, every day from 6:30am to 7:30am. Back in 1958 he remembers earning the princely sum of £1 5shillings (£1.25) per week.

Aged 15 the opportunity came up to start an apprenticeship for C.S. Williams in the building trade earning £1 10shillings (£1.50) per week for 44 hours. C.S. Williams were based in Park St. Taunton and offered Dave an apprenticeship for five years, starting with jobs such as painting and decorating and then moving on to more skilled jobs such as installing windows, bricklaying and carpentry.

One year before completing his apprenticeship Dave married Constance from Westleigh , Burlescombe, North Devon. They had two children, Toni and Neil who still live in the local area.

When the apprenticeship was complete, aged 20, Dave joined Arthur Martin’s the Vauxhall dealership in East Reach that is now Rowcliffe’s. Dave’s job was to provide building maintenance for their dealership in East Reach and another one in South Street (now a housing estate) and remembers earning £14 15shillings per week in 1966.

After a few years at Arthur Martin’s Dave started a night time job working with a mate from Bridgwater delivering fresh fish to fishmongers and fish shops in Taunton and as far afield as Bridport. He would supplement this income with part-time self employed building work in the afternoons.

Dave and his mate would meet a fish lorry laden with fresh fish in Cornishway East each night around 2am. Normally Dave would drop off boxes of fish all around Taunton then head over to Bridport via Ilminster, Chard and Crewkerne. If you have had fish and chips in the sixties in any of these towns there is a good chance you have Dave to thank for your fresh fish!

Back in the sixties, fish and chip shops were so much more popular than nowadays. It is perhaps hard for younger readers to imagine but there were no McDonalds, KFC, Pizza shops, Chinese or Indian takeaways in those days.

Dave would typically arrive home at 8 in the morning exhausted from the night shift and spend most mornings catching up on sleep, waking at midday ready for an afternoon of building work.

One night in 1971 there was a huge fire in a fish and chip shop on the corner of Eastbourne Road and East Reach. Dave remembers the fire very well and he was lucky in a way as it gave him the opportunity to do more building work. Gradually customers and work started to build up and the following year, aged 26, Dave was able to give up the nightly fish delivery job to go full time as a self-employed builder.

Dave formed a small building company, Commerce Builders and employed two others. In the 70’s and 80’s there was a huge amount of modernisation of Victorian houses in the centre of Taunton, especially around Stephens Street, St Augustine’s, Alma Road and Church Street.

There were many grants available that allowed house owners to install modern bathrooms and extensions. There is a good probability that many houses in these areas have had their bathrooms modernised by Dave and his fellow workers in the 70’s and 80’s. If you live in this area, you may well have Dave and Commerce Builders to thank for your modern conveniences.

Demand for work was so very high that at one time Commerce Builders employed seven people. However, Dave found that he then became more and more involved in managing people than doing the actual building work which he preferred. Consequently he tried not to take on too much work so he could remain hands-on with at least some of the building work.

One of the better known businesses that Commerce Builders supplied maintenance work for was Theaks shirt factory in South Street, Taunton. Taunton had a thriving shirt factory industry with many large factories including Van Heusen in Victoria House, Victoria Street (now an office block) and Paul Wall shirt factory in Railway Street.

Theaks was a very large shirt factory stretching from East Reach and occupying all the land in South Street on the left and into Queen Street. The factory closed in the mid-nineties demolished and the area rebuilt as a small private housing close called Theaks Mews. As Theaks was such a large business this provided a good source of regular income for Dave and his colleagues at Commerce Builders.

To this day in December 2011, Dave still provides building maintenance work for a few businesses in Taunton and Creech. One particular client that he takes special pride in is the maintenance work he has provided since 1977 of the historical buildings for Taunton Heritage Trust, including the Grey’s Alms House, a grade 1 listed building that dates back to 16th century in East Street, Taunton.

Dave’s marriage to Constance ended after 11 years. Fours years later in 1979, he married his second wife Jackie and had a daughter, Kelly, who is also a councillor on Taunton Deane Borough Council.

The second marriage lasted 13 years and Dave led life again as a single man from 1992. Ten years later in 2004 he married Rene who he had known when she worked at Theakes shirt factory many years earlier.

Dave recalls affectionately that one of Rene’s ambitions in life was to live in a ‘house with a big pair of gates’. He was always on the look out for some impressive gates to fit the bill. In 2006, whilst on a building job in Nottingham he found just the gates he had been looking and brought them back to their house in Ham. He built two impressive stone pillars to match which form a grand entrance to the drive to their house.

However, he often felt they needed a bit more impact with something eye-catching on top of the stone pillars. One day in Bridgwater Dave happened to spot a pair of large (1 metre) stone elephant statues and said to himself ‘This is it! Rene is going to be very impressed. What better way to show respect for Rene (who was born in India) and Indian culture!’ The elephant statues create a striking impression and can be seen on the road from Ham to Knapp.

What is clear from talking to Dave is that he has never lived a quiet life. When others his age are perhaps thinking of taking it easy this is the last thing on Dave’s mind aged 65.

In addition to the part time work he still does as a builder and his role as a Taunton Deane Borough Councillor, he has been Chairman of Somerset Playing Fields since 2003 and Chairman of the Taunton Konningsluter, Germany Twinning Association. He sits on the board of Tone Leisure, the Home Furniture Trust (recycled furniture with a depot in Chip Lane) and the Advisory Board of the Village’s Children’s Centre and is a member of the Creech Patient Participation Group formed in November 2011.

To wrap things up, Dave always looks forward to seeing visitors, meeting old friends and making new friends on the community boat, ‘Future Perfect’ on the Bridgwater and Taunton canal. Just mention you read his life story so far on the Creech website!

 

Dave Durdan and Future Perfect
Dave In Front Of Gates
Elephant Left
 
Elephant Right