Family's unbroken 428-year link with Thames Water comes to an end

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Family’s unbroken 428-year link with Thames Water comes to an end

(Above - Jon Langford with his cherished plant pot - made out of an old concrete water main from Oxford Street and wearing his father's long service watch) 

Retiring after spending your whole life working for one company is a major milestone. But for Jon Langford, it has brought to an end an incredible unbroken 428-year family connection with Thames Water and its predecessors.

The 54-year-old, from Orpington, Kent, joined as an apprentice electrician in 1980 before rising through the ranks to work in repair and maintenance.

He is the last in a 17-strong line of family members who have helped supply generations of Londoners with water and waste services since 1850. In total, the family has spent at least a combined 428 years working for the company.

A large number of employees are able to build a lifelong career at Thames - albeit none can boast unbroken family lineage stretching back to 1850. 

Jon admitted to mixed emotions about leaving.

He said: “To know I was carrying on a family legacy was a real privilege. I remember as a kid going to work with my dad and helping push around hand carts and going out with the engineers. 

“I’ve loved my time at Thames helping our customers and protecting the environment and I have made some life-long friends. B

“But this now really is the end of an era – unless my grandchildren are interested in the family trade!”

(Below - Jon with his father Sid on the day he joined Thames Water as a 16 year old apprentice)

Family’s unbroken 428-year link with Thames Water comes to an end

The connection unravelled:

  • The Munday brothers, Vince joined first in 1850 and worked 40 years, Albert 35 years, Onslow 38 years, William 20 years.
  • Onslow’s children, Bert 40 years, Charles 40 years, Sid 35 years, Fred Stevens (married daughter Laura) 25 years.
  • Charlie Langford married Onslow’s other daughter Sarah Munday, and worked for 30 years, brother George 30 years, sister Lucy’s children George and Stephen for 3 years each.
  • Charlie’s children Peter for three years, Sid for 42 years, and George’s child Ray for five years.
  • Sid’s son Jon for 38 years since joining in 1980.

This amounts to a whopping 428-year unbroken family connection – although it is probably longer. George Langford’s uncle, Lieutenant Colonel George Hanover, also worked for the water board and rose to Chairman during his stint – however it’s not clear how long he worked there for.

Jon is now spending his time relaxing and helping to look after his mother, Collette, 85, and looks back on his career with fondness.

He said: “A lot has changed over the past decades. When I started steam engines were still being used, and technology has come on so far it’s really helped the job.

“My career highlight was working as part of the team that prepared for the London 2012 Olympics. That was brilliant. I’ll miss Thames but I’ve really enjoyed my time there.”

(Below - Jon's father Sid working on a pipe in London in January 1963)

Family’s unbroken 428-year link with Thames Water comes to an end