Danny Ridout, master craftsman who kept the trade in the family
He also loved history and telling stories, often starting a sentence with “what it was was…"
28 July, 2020 — By Dan Carrier
DANNY Ridout, a master craftsman who could build a house from the ground up, took pride in the work done by the building firm that bore his family name.
Mr Ridout, who has died of a heart attack aged 73, came from a family of builders – and has passed on his skills to his sons and grandsons. Danny, the youngest of seven siblings, was born in 1947 and grew up in the Market Road area.
His father Albert was in the building trade, running a firm called B Ridout and Sons – and he in turn had worked for his father in the same industry.
All three of Danny’s boys – Danny, Jason and Joe – have gone into the trade, with Jason and Danny working with their father for many years, while Joe is now involved in furniture restoration.
The Ridout family, as with so many in the immediate post-war period, had lived in cramped conditions, with Danny and his siblings sharing a bedroom in a house with no bathroom and an outside toilet.
Danny went to Brecknock and Hungerford primary schools, and then to Holloway Comprehensive. He got an apprenticeship with a friend of his father’s called Jock who would become an important influence.
“Jock was everything to Dad,” recalls his son, Joe. “My dad would talk about what Jock had taught him regarding working hard, having pride in what you do, cleaning up after yourself and treating clients with respect.”
Danny started work aged 15 and learned all the crucial elements of general building.
“No problem could stump him,” says Joe. “He would teach structural engineers their job. If they were stuck, he’d give them a few ideas. But he was always very humble about it.”
In 1992, he and his eldest son Danny set up Ridout Construction – a family firm that continues today. Danny, his sons and other workers would meet for breakfast at the Moonlight Cafe in Brecknock Road to discuss what work they had on. He would enjoy pork chops, chips and peas – and if they were working locally, they’d go back again for lunch.
He instilled his craft in those who worked alongside him, and was a stickler for reliability and time-keeping. He had first met his wife Iris when he was 16, and she was a year younger. She had grown up in the same area.
They married in 1965 and had their first child, Danny, a year later. They moved to Twisden Road, Dartmouth Park in 1969 – and became much-respected members of the neighbourhood.
Danny supported Manchester United, because as a child half his brothers were Spurs, the other half Arsenal – and he didn’t want to take sides when they argued over dinner.
But he came to prefer rugby – saying it was a gentleman’s game compared to football.
Later in life, he discovered that the London Welsh Male Voice Choir rehearsed on Thursdays at the London Welsh Centre in King’s Cross.
Danny would put the chairs out and help set up the hall and then sit back and enjoy listening to the choir.
He did not sing, but followed the choir around the UK and abroad as they performed in concerts. His other passions included jigsaw puzzles, war films, learning how to cook and bake, and he also harboured admiration of the work of the great Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
He also loved history and telling stories, often starting a sentence with “what it was was…”, to his family’s amusement. And Sundays would see Danny at his local, The Dartmouth Arms, to enjoy a pint with friends.
He had continued working up until the lockdown, a husband, father and a respected craftsman who had pride in his work