7th July 2021

Obituary: David James Mackie

David James Mackie was passionate about his job and well respected by those both inside and outside trading standards.

By Chris Armstrong
His colleagues remember him as a nice, sensible chap who always seemed happy. He was very well respected by those on both sides of the fence

It is with sadness that we report the passing of David James Mackie in October 2020. We were only advised of this event in May this year.

Mac, as he was known to his friends and colleagues, began his career at Surrey County Council aged 17 and then served in the RAF for five years during the Second World War.

He trained in Surrey and qualified in May 1949, working as an Inspector there until 1966. Following the reorganisation of the London County Council into the Greater London Council, he started working for the new consortium of the London Boroughs of Merton and Sutton and the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames.

Mac was ‘old school’. He was one of seven fully qualified Inspectors in his department and like most of his colleagues he drove an Austin Cambridge, whose exceptionally large boot allowed all the inspection equipment to be easily transported. These vehicles were especially good for housing a fake petrol tank used for test purchases of fuel from garages with pump attendants who would sometimes fiddle the quantities delivered.

Although not the record holder, Mac did very well in a competition with his colleagues to see who could achieve the best fuel consumption in their cars. This was achieved by the rapid changing of gear, selecting fourth by about 15 mph, and neutral at the slightest sign of a downward slope.

At 9.30 each morning the seven Weights and Measures Inspectors would march out to load their cars, singing the song from Disney’s Snow White but with the changed words, “I owe, I owe, so off to work I go, with bag and beam and counter machine, I owe, I owe.”

Mac took his job very seriously, and was known by every coalman in Surrey. Delivering short weight coal and selling off the ‘gains’ was prevalent amongst many in the trade, and Mac made it his business to protect the residents who employed him. He knew all the tricks: delivering nine sacks instead of 10; ‘milking’ sacks to make up an extra sack; leaning on the scale of an ‘Autobagger’ – a mobile bulk coal lorry with belt feed and a scale attached.

Whatever the weather Mac insisted on driving with both front windows down. He really could smell a coal lorry a couple of streets away, and former colleagues remember him digging out many tons of suspect coal deliveries from homes and schools.

When the consortium split up he became Deputy Chief at Kingston in 1975 and Chief in 1984, serving as departmental prosecutor during his final 12 years in the role, before retiring in 1989.

Mac made a good Chief, but still missed being out on the streets chasing the rogues. His colleagues remember him as a nice, sensible chap who always seemed happy. He was very well respected by those on both sides of the fence.

He was also a mean snooker player and a keen cricketer. During his retirement he enjoyed watching motor racing and tending his garden with his beloved wife and children.

Compiled by Chris Armstrong from the memories of several colleagues.

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