Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Crime DOES pay, if you're a dummy working for a 100 year old family business.

So If like me you grown up in the Cambridge area, you will be familiar with the name "Mackays of Cambridge" there's been a store on this site since 1912 and it's been in the same family since day one.

1912. Image Courtesy of Mackays of Cambridge Ltd.
During it's time it's had connections to Dr Stephen Hawkins and various departments from the University of Cambridge, as a whole. As a specialist Engineering company and Ironmongers, Mackays has had connections to revolutionary spiral staircase design, Radio telescopes and 'Special projects' requested by people in suits during the war years.



I first walked through the doors on East Rd in the Early 1980's, about 3' tall holding the hand of my father, who used to make it his first stop for parts for his scratch built model engineering projects. From that early introduction I was amazed to see row upon row fasteners, fixings and it was like many a grandfathers workshop. Even today it's my first stop whether I need 2, or two hundred of even the most illusive thread pattern.

1969. Image Courtesy of Mackays of Cambridge Ltd.


In recent years local passers-by have become accustomed to the regular sight of "Dickie", the store mascot who stands outside on east road whilst the store is open. Along with many others, if there's no Dickie, there's no point driving round the back to the off-street parking as the store is closed.

Dickie outside the shop Feb.2014. Image Courtesy of Mackays of Cambridge Ltd.


As a regular visitor of Mackay's myself from those very early days, right up to the present Router courses which I run in their Well equipped training suite, even I took the opportunity to get a selfie with Dickie.

Dickie & I  in 2014 - we "go way back".


Indeed Dickie has become somewhat of a local celeb, with selfies of him being tweeted across the internet, and even staring in his own 'Tour de Cambridge' Cycling and 'surprise selfies' video on Youtube!

Some time back in April I was horrified, and a little sad to read a tweet from dickie, saying he had been attacked, and as a result had his hand severed and stolen!

Cambridge, with it's large student populous is no stranger to pranks, or odd sights. Growing up in the sitting you learn the stories of Cars being assembled on college rooftops over night, and the statue of Trinity college founder Henry VIII having the sceptre he holds being replaced with a chair leg. Even witness some, like Mr Barmy Art, who would walk around with a shoe or loaf of bread tied to his head with ribbon. Or Snowy, who could forget snowy?!

But this was a little more "criminal" than just a prank.

For some time, presumably whilst he recovered from his ordeal, dickie vanished from the pavement. He was in fact starting his #HelpDickie twitter campaign. After a short time however he returned with his arm in a sling - Testament to both his character, and the sense of humour of the staff.

Image Courtesy of Mackays of Cambridge Ltd.


It was around this time that Tom Parker, Director of local 3D printing company came forward to create a new hand for our hero. Tom had heard of Dickies plight and offered to 3d Print a new hand during his printers down-time, and during an interview said "I knew of the mannequin outside their shop, so thought after he lost his hand a 3D-Printed replacement would be ideal, and a good bit of fun"
I particularly like the last bit, to me it's so invective of that time past British, and in particular Cambridge tradition of eccentricity with a hint of genius!

Image Cambridge 3D Printing.

Image Cambridge 3D Printing.
Image Cambridge 3D Printing.

In Mid-May, with the new hand finally finished and Dickie ready for his operation, the light engineering department of Mackays Metal Warehouse set about manufacturing a bracket to fit the new hand. During one of my frequent visits, and chatting to Managing Director of Mackays Ltd, Neil Mackay he told me:
 "Our small works Department has built a metal bracket that will secure it [the hand] very Firmly." 

"Luckily, he's a mannequin, so Dickie didn't need an anaesthetic for this operation."
Image Courtesy of Mackays of Cambridge Ltd.

Within a very short space of time, most of the local media, including newspaper reporters, local radio stations and even the BBC had jumped on the scene to interview the team, and tell us this story of petty crime, local generosity and 21st century technology.

So I guess Crime DOES pay, if you're a shop mannequin or 100 year old family run shop with a sense of humour.

To my knowledge, no information regarding the culprits of the missing hand has come to light. If you do know anything please do come forward though.

Either way it is nice to think that, even though this kind of mindless stupidity and disregard for right and wrong cannot be condoned, it is good to see that Mackays have turn this to their advantage - Probably a reason why they are still going strong so long after the Doors first opened all those years ago!

You can follow dickie on twitter, and stay up to date with his adventures and see his Youtube videos - Which I suspect are not finished yet!