No announcement yet.

history on Sir John

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • history on Sir John

    I"ll put this in a new post . Hope its ok George
    John sent / and or posted this yrs back
    one of many I kept .... He had a great impact on me

    An introduction to engineering in the UK - 1960's


    Really really long, go get a coffee and book a day off work.

    I have always been interested in engineering, taking things to pieces but never managing to get them back as a kid Where we lived when I was young was reasonably industrial. There was plenty of work for adults, most worked with 8 miles of home, many within 2 or 3 miles.
    Buses were used to get to work or push bikes, quite a few people had motorcycles, some with sidecars for the family and the occasional car but it was expensive to own and run a car.

    When I left primary school in 1959 aged 11, because I had managed to pass my 11 plus exam, I had a choice of schools. Anyone not passing this exam was sent to the nearest comprehensive school.

    I had a choice of 5 schools, 4 grammar schools where the accent was on literary and languages [ Latin amongst them ] or 1 technical grammar school where the accent was on trades, I chose the Technical grammar school.

    Besides the usual lessons in maths, english etc., this school had two large woodworking shops, two large metalworking shops and a large room for technical drawing. In the first 3 years you had a half day at alternate woodwork and metalwork plus a half day at technical drawing. In the last two years you had to choose between woodwork or metalwork which then became weekly.
    There were also after hours classes for various subjects as most of the kids were reasonably local and could get a later bus.

    The woodworking and metal working classes were both run out of hours. Whilst I was there the woodworking class built two sailing dingies from plans bought by the school and a sailing club started.

    If you built anything for yourself all you had to do was pay for the material, as most of the metalworking articles were small this was usually pence.

    This school wasn't unique as at that time there were a lot of trade schools part funded by industry.
    Nottingham at that time was a big lace produced, possibly 50% were employed in it in some way. My father was a warp knitter who used to run anything from 1 to 7 large lace machines on 12 hour shifts, he wanted my elder brother to go into the trade which he did but I didn't want to.

    At 11 my brother went to a school in Nottingham that catered for the lace trade, Theirs had a workshop containing about 5 or 6 large lace machines, 30 odd foot long and weighing upwards of 12 tons which they learn the basics of warping and patterns on. Heath and Safety would have a baby nowadays.

    I left school at 16 having gained certificates in glue sniffing, grievous body harm and ice cube rolling. No seriously I got all the practical subjects but not many of the others. During the last 6 months at school we were visited by prospective employers for a 2 hour lecture with slides on why we should go and work for them, we were graded so you only saw the ones you were interested in.

    I went to the ones presented by Raleigh bikes, Boots the chemists, Stanton Ironworks, John Player cigarettes, Royal Ordnance Factory and 38 Base Workshops REME who maintained armoured vehicles for the army.

    After much deliberation on all these various employers as to their various future advancements I chose REME because it was at the bottom of ower street.

    All these places had a 2 part entrance exam, meant to weed the dross out, half theory, half practical and I'm sure I could have gone to any of these companies it was that easy to get an apprenticeship in those times.

    So on the 3rd of August I became employed although I had been working part time at a local motor cycle dealers doing simple repairs. We were taken round the base which was enormous. The main shop had bays lettered A to M, all were specialised like the machine shop and electrical shop but the build shops at the bottom could hold 20 tanks each.

    Initially the tank would go into M shop, the turret shop and have the turret lifted off as that shop had the only 25 ton crane,
    then the tanks came into the shop around K shop, were stripped down and all the numbered parts / trays of parts were sent to the cleaning bay, then examined and then sent to whatever bay was responsible for their repair. The hull was then cleaned up with scaling guns, primed and painted ready for the part to go back on it.

    These were Centurion tanks powered by a detuned version of the Rolls Royce Merlin engine as fitted to the spitfire called the Meteor.
    Everything was stripped to the last nut and bolt.
    As apprentices you moved round the shop in stages, no matter what trade you had signed up for everyone had to do this 2 year shop tour. Some stages were only a week, most two weeks but some were a month.

    Because engines were complex they were classed in stages as instead of say just 2 weeks on engines which is impossible to learn anything the engines were broken down into units, cylinder heads, connecting rods and crank, carburettors, wheel box [ auxiliary drive gearbox ] etc.

    At the end of 2 years you then went on to do your specialised trade, they were fitting, machinist, electrician, welding and sheet metalwork.
    This dealt in deeper into what you had seen on your shop tour.

    Hang on 2 years shop tour, 2 years specialised but it was a 5 year apprenticeship ?
    That was because in the first year you went into a self contained apprentice shop with sheet metal, fitting, machining, welding and electrical units just so you got a grounding before you went out into the big bad world.

    Four full time apprentice masters were on hand to teach the subjects, they were all specialised in one and all taught fitting to make the 5 subjects up. There was the head shed who looked after everything, Sturmbanfuhrer Marshall.

    No expense was spared, all that mattered was you learnt your job.

    On top of this we had to go to the local college for a full day and an extra evening for Technical Drawing, incidentally taught by Myford's chief draughtsman.

    OK that's it for now I may post later if there is a demand but this was the situation back then, I know other will have different experiences but the whole basics will be the same, possibly where my came out better was that being run by REME and hence the government of the day they didn't have shareholders to account to.

    In my apprenticeship year we had to modify the fitting benches we used. They had a tubular steel column with a welded on plate top, the mod was to cut the column and insert a piece of 4" square thread and a screwed ring to make them adjustable for hight, everyone had to do their bench.
    One guy couldn't get his head round screwcutting, he was taught time and time again but couldn't get it.
    To save the rest of the class falling behind they took a turner out of the main shop and put him with this lad full time just screwcutting.
    After a week he managed to do his bench. I asked our machine shop guy what would have happened if after a week he still hadn't got it. He just replied they would have left the turner with him until he did. What private industry could afford to loose a skilled man for 2 or 3 weeks on something this trivial ?
    Sir John, Earl of Sudspumpwater. MBE
    [ Motor Bike Engineer ] Nottingham England.
    please visit my webpage:

  • #2
    Clumsy Bastard


    • #3
      Thank you for posting this.

      A look at the website popped up some photos, I wonder if this one is of John and the wife? :


      • #4
        Originally posted by sch View Post
        Thank you for posting this.

        A look at the website popped up some photos, I wonder if this one is of John and the wife? :
        That's not John, that's motorworks


        • #5
          Here is a picture of John waiting at the gates with his bridgeports: