Mr King - The Gambler
For 20 years, under the stewardship of the Clarke brothers, the Wearwell Cycle Company grew from fledgling enterprise into a bike building behemoth. Bicycles were shipped out of the door in their thousands and money flooded into the business. The company continued to expand and the Clarke’s brought experienced metal workers and fitters into the factory, as well as an army of back office staff to process orders, liaise with customers and manage the accounts. In amongst those hires was Company Secretary “Mr. King”.
A talented book-keeper “Mr. King” quickly gained the trust of the Wearwell founders and his reputation rose higher and higher. Soon he was in charge of all of the major transactions: the writing of company cheques, payment of wages and most importantly of all, the cashing up of the monthly takings.
With great responsibility also comes great power, and it was the combination of the two that ultimately was to be the undoing of “Mr. King”. His new-found standing in the community and an innate competitive streak saw him regularly wager locals in all manner of bets. Cards. Horses. Pool. Anything that could be gambled upon inevitably was, and a hot streak of wins in the summer of 1909 inflated Mr. King’s confidence to such an extent that he bet the entire Wearwell monthly takings on a game of billiards in a Wolverhampton pool hall. He lost the game. He lost all of the money. He lost the company. And in doing so he almost lost his life too, through a failed suicide attempt.
Out of the ashes the Wearwell Cycle Company rose again through new ownership who set the business on a path that takes us right up to the present day.
We shall never know what life might have been like for Wearwell were it not for that failed bet and for "Mr. King"…The Gambler.