With all the warm weather we have been experiencing, it's hard to believe we are now in October and that of course means it's "Dave'sGEN" time again; This edition will be slightly different because Bill Sergeant has only recently come out of hospital and is not quite back to his normal self, so there is no "Willie's Whimsies" to fill a page or so for me. He hopes to be back in the February 2004 edition. However, I have made a rough note of the lengthof your letters etc. and think there is enough material for nine sides - I wonder; So, on to extracts from your letters....
Cliff Bourne ...
I was reading the last "Dave's GEN" and was reminded of my days at Group 40 behind Dalston Junction, Kingsland Road, where I met Brian Martin, Harry Green, Dickie Wakefield and others, some now gone. It was the former two gentlemen who persuaded me to refurbish my SU Carburettor from my E type (Morris not Jaguar). In those days one brought ones car into the yard for maintenance, tyre repair, washing etc., the essen- tial things one did as the weekends were too precious.
The kit was bought and everything replaced that could be replaced - an extra washer discarded by Harry G. as superfluous. It was then that Brian, he of the Morris 1000 fame, confessed that he had never refurbed a carb before. That which goes around, comes around - Frank Collard at STC Basil- don took half day's Annual to replace a diaphragm in his W.C. after replacement advice from Derek Oswald (Southend FC for ever) and me. It worked brilliantly and we thought it prudent not to mention either of us.
Now I am of the opinion with anything electrical or mechanical, if it works leave it, or for Brian, wenn es arbeites, lassen es;
Back to Group 40, Dave Coles was making a model yacht, the hull of which was laid piece by piece one eight inch square. He went sick but this did not prevent Brian and I from gluing one piece each side each day. He was such a nice bloke that he never complained so we let him design the servos to regulate the speed of the engine and raise the sails etc.
At this time my landlord decided that he would like my flat and gave notice but the dear old PO moved me to the land of milk and honey, well overtime anyway at North Woolwich submerged repeaters in the Dairy. We got a mortgage in Romford and finally cleared another large one in Hythe, New Forest District years later with the "love you to leave" money.
Finally, think of me kindly when you put one of those things in your ear and shout, they are called mobiles, as I brought the first ugly grey mon- ster by Motorola from the US factory near Chicago to the UK. They were the bees knees if you had one even though you walked like Quasimodo with hernia. I had a governor who wanted me to get him one, impossible, so he settled for a shell so he could "pose" in the car.
If I know now what a nuisance they are in crowded places I suppose I would have still brought it back, as I said, I had a mortgage to pay. Still mustn't grumble.
Pete Cleaver ...
I thought I'd take the opportunity to cobble together (Cleaver's Cobblers, as it were), a few random notes that may be of inter- est to our band of outlaws, those still wheel spinning for a living and those, well, who are following other pursuits. Wheel spinning, now there's a thought. What is the mileage rate now? Is there a 75 mile limit to keep within at all costs, as any trained Group 24 man knows, every journey was 74 miles or an overnight stay. I guess that's all gone out of the window with car hire and lease arrangements. For that matter what's the overnight sub? That takes me back to the digs at 131 Hill Lane, Southampton. The rent there for four nights bed-sit was about &10-15 amazing how we kept that going on a rota basis. We nick-named the on-site landlord 'Rigsby'an eccentric (loaded) old chap who made it quite clear that cooking in the room was not preferred, due to stinking out the rest of the house tenants. I recall Jeff Wigley and John Reynolds partaking of that abode on the month about, detached duty to Pirelli and STC. As for the Malmesbury Rota (circa 1974-on), many an experience was encount- ered in that delightful part of Wiltshire. I am still in contact with Pete and Ann, the Kings Arms Pub landlords (long since retired to Dartmouth); although have lost touch with the obliging bar maids. At that time, the bar at the KA was manned by us blokes after landlords had retired, brilliant, can anyone see that happening these days? One significant event was birth of a Keith Robson offspring, what with Brendan Phillips, Bill Peach and all it was something else. Not to forget the Bridgewater contingent, 12 chip Charlie Kendall, Ossy, Bill, Brian, and Sid Miller and Pete from the Valleys. No wonder Pete and Ann retired, they must have earned a fortune with the detached duty gang staying there. Almost a permanent booking, we even had BTQA members in the local darts team, how's that for continuity? There is many a story I must try to remember for future "GENS" about the comings and goings in that pub, suitably censored of course. One day I woke up in a local field surrounded by cows (no, the four legged variety) Yes, Malmesbury had a lot to answer for, in the nicest possible way. By the way, what was the name of the pub down the hill, towards the water tower? The land- lord was an alcoholic ex-hairdresser, (he had a few probs) Oh yes, I nearly forgot, there was work to do as well. What better part of the world to wheel spin, the Cotswolds, before being invaded by house buying commuters, so sad to see local cultures all f'd up, progress they say.
Roy Lavrance ...
I did my short spell in the basement during TOinT and rem- ember being fascinated by the hydraulic machine used for testing to destr- uction telephone pole cross-arms and cable ducts. Also the large power units down there frightened me to death but compared to the high voltage test gear for checking the insulation of under-sea cables which I had met previously at contractor's works, they ought to have been a doddle. Perhaps it was those high voltage cages that caused the fear. Try to imagine a 20 foot high Wimshurst machine and the size of its spark.
Talking about cables, I promised to let you have a few words about my ex- perience of the Cable Test Section out-stations. Soon after joining the Test Section at Studd Street and having spent my first months doing nothing but testing cleaned-up telephones, hand generators and bells, I was approached by the Cable Test Section. Being very restless after returning from National Service in Egypt and having no ties, I agreed to transfer and was shipped off initially to the cable depot at Clissold Exchange, Dalston Junction, to learn about telephone cables - through the testing of redundant cables recovered from underground ducts. The idea was to decide if the cable could be re-used. I learnt a lot, including how to plumb the ends of 800 pair lead-sheathed cables using a blowlamp and moleskin pad. After this training, I was allowed to become a TIIA inspector at contractors' works which entailed wandering around the factory during the manufacturing process making sure that what went into the lead sheath at the end of the production line was to specification. The TO inspectors sat in on the electrical testing and the TIIAs checked physical characteristics i.e. overall size the thickness of the lead sheath and the diameter of the copper wires before each reel of cable was approved or otherwise. In the South, the main London factories were at Dagenham(near the Ford Works), North Woolwich(STC) and Charlton(Siemens) but there were also large factories at Eastleigh, Southampton(Pirelli General) and Newport, Mon(ST&C). As with Studd Street staff, we moved around every three months and this meant living in digs for three months when at Newport or Eastleigh. My landlady at Eastleigh used to leave out a cup with my nightly cocoa in it which I was expected to drink even after a night out at the pub. There was always just enough water in the kettle to fill the cup and not a drop more.
I enjoyed the jazz nights at a pub on the other side of the Woolston chain ferry in Southampton but the ferry was not a comfortable spot for a cuddle in the middle of winter. The wind blew fiercely up the Solent and it was difficult to raise much passion in the teeth of it. As for Newport, the home of the famous transporter bridge over the River Usk, it was afflicted by two very strong pongs. In the centre of town, the brewery intoxicated us with the fumes from the beer mash when the vats were emptied, while at the factory, on the outskirts, we were assailed by a knock-out blast from the local glue works, if the wind was blowing from that direction. On those days, I could never face my lunch (which in the Cable Test Section you might be unhappy to learn, was always supplied free of charge by the contractor). Newport was not all bad though, as it gave me the opportunity to pay my first visits to places like Chepstow, the Wye Valley and Tintern Abbey, Monmouth, Ebbw Vale, Caerphilly Castle etc. One Sunday, with every- one else from the CTS staff away home, I set off to try to reach a friend in Bristol by bus and the Beachley-Aust ferry that used to cross the Sev- ern where the second road bridge is today. The ferry took about six cars and pedestrians had to climb up a vertical ladder to stand on the bridge I started up directly behind a young woman and, being a gentleman, didn't look up. As a result, when she stopped climbing suddenly, I found myself with my head up her skirt. This naturally broke the ice and I spent a very pleasant afternoon with her, her sister and young niece. I never reached Bristol that day.
As for the London factories, I only remember that I enjoyed travelling every day between Tottenham and Nth Woolwich by steam train and the novelty of the paddle boat ferries across the Thames. At Charlton, in the Summer we sat and talked with the works' staff in the pretty public park (Maryon Park) opposite the factory or other lunchtimes I stood on the dockside from which the cable was loaded into the cable-laying ships, gazing with envy at the white banana boats returning to the Canary Islands after unloading their yellow cargo at the wharf beside London Bridge. Unfortunately, I eventually had to leave the CTS and return to Studd Street when I dropped out of the 'no ties' category.
Alan Cannon ...
I suppose I should let you know how I have been keeping busy in retirement. Well, I will have been retired 12 years on the 30th March 2003, which also happens to be my 65th Birthday, so I will now be getting an OA Pension and bus pass which will be handy for congestion charge.
Annette and I celebrated our Ruby Wedding in November last year and had a big party and Disco in a marquee attached to the rear of the house and a good time was had by all. People who live a fair distance down the road said they enjoyed listening to the music when they went to bed.
We now have 4 Grandchildren, 3 girls, 1 boy. My eldest granddaughter who is 11 is a fine gymnast and athlete, she runs for Woodford Green & Essex Ladies.She has also won her age group at the London Gymnastics Federation Competition held at Heathrow Gymnastic Club.
Annette and I go to Spain with my daughter and the girls for 3 weeks every year as her husband can only leave his Practice for 2 weeks at a time dur- ing the summer (He is an Osteopath and has an Alternative Medicine Clinic where I get my back done for free) Every 2 or 3 years we also take a cruise we have been to the Caribbean, Alaska and the Far East.
I now spend at least 3 days a week playing golf at my home course Toot Hill. I am the Senior Sections Fixtures & Competitions Secretary which keeps me busy as we have 50 to 60 members of which 30 are active most summer days and we meet 3 times a week all the year round. We have recently had a new member join us by the name of Malcolm Argent, who was the Company Secretary & Director of BT with lan Valence. As usual got to know somebody in hiqh places when it's too late.
Peter Stroyan ...
Just a quick line to let you know I'm still in the land of the living ... Yes; I'm leaving London after 40 years, I retired from the Benefits Agency on 31st May 2001. Since then I've never had a dull moment - been to Tasmania, Singapore and driven all over Germany, France and Spain as well as keeping up my golf, bridge and choir. In golf I represented DSS South at Moor Allerton last year and will be representing CSSC South at Fulford in August. I feel as if I prepared for retirement all my life and I'm really good at it!! After leaving Studd Street in 1988, I was a teacher (Science) for some 4 1/2 years but was finding all the administration a lot of hassle so when I saw the job at the B.A. advertised I applied.
They really wanted a accountant to work on the London end of a scheme called Deft Account Management. However, they were not going to get me at the money they were offering so I can assure anyone who did the MIQA course that all these QA measurement techniques can be applied in finance just as well as in factories. The scheme was actually folded and I spent my last 18 months as a Training Officer doing courses on Data Protection etc. On a final topic I seemed to hit the jackpot with the BT compensatory payments last year recelving a 30% increase in pension and a huge compensatory payment. I'd be interested in hearing from other ex-colleagues who might have benefited.
Greg Peters has broken his other leg and is currently in Whipps Cross Hospital.
Bob Ashby took early retirement from Martlesham last year
I spend a lot of time on the computer/internet so I can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org My other hobbies include Photography and Music. I can spend many hours trying to restore old damaged photographs. I am now playing with panoramas- Both my wife and I reached grade 6 on the Electronic Organ few years ago, but gave up taking exams when they changed the syllabus. We could have taken grade 7 on the old syllabus, but then would have had to learn 8 grades worth of chords for grade 8 Why learn a complicated shorthand when reading the dots is easier and more ex- pressive. However, I am now thinking about Jazz improvisation, so maybe I will have to learn them after all.
My wife is from the Philippines, and we have'spent a lot of time there liv- ing with her family. We bought a piece of land on the island of Palawan two years ago and had a three bedroom bungalow built on it. It cost about £7000 total and was paid for out of the profit I made on my BT shares.That was one of the two good things BT did for me, the other being early retire- ment on full pension at the age of 52. This house has ho air conditioning and is full of my wife's relatives (we get our bedroom back when we go there). I am now designing a second smaller but more comfortable bungalow on the same site. We plan to move there in about two years time, let out our bungalow in Norfolk and use the rent money for a loan to build a bigg- er and better place in the Philippines - possibly a small beach resort.The beach resorts we have seen get no trade, but who cares; One of the biggest attractions is the cost of labour. A live-in maid costs £17 a month, so we will have two of them. No more cooking, washing, ironing etc.
Roger Keys ...
Thanks for the latest "Dave's GEN", yes I am still around and have been meaning to write to you. But, as with all things like that every time I start I get distracted ... I am still working part-time atthe local school in the Design & Technology Dept., we have now got the new CAD lathes, millers and routers running so I am spending more time playing with computers. I note that you still have not gone computerised with GEN.
Up to the end of last year I was regularly seeing ex BT or Test Section colleagues in the local area, mainly at Tesco's, but recently they seem to have disappeared, perhaps they have either moved or changed their shopping habits: Not that I spend all my time shopping. Unfortunately due to my part-time job I am unable to get to the Albion meetings; have you ever thought of a local meet since there are a number of Test Section colleaques who live within the Enfield/East Herts area.
Frank Rogers ...
Many thanks for the latest "GEN". I really must apologise for not keeping in touch, but I have become a little inward looking, living in this quiet part of the world. I am in contact with Derek Moor and Fred Petre via e-mail and "Buzby" Billet by telephone and "snail mail- The computer is really taking over.
I was pleased to read a mention of the Studd Street gates and other matters about the "poor old place". Its future would seem to be lim- ited. I also noticed several contributions had a title (of varying size). If it is,the contributors a nice one - if it was yours good on -yer'. This helps the presentation of the GEN and could help the spacing problem. I think my own one started with Stan Brede? way back in time. Incidentally I am thinking of writing about my own store of GENS and its progenitors for a future issue. You are doing a great job;
Derek Young ...
After I left BT I had one year on the 'dole' before getting a "Job" through the government.scheme at a Job Club. I was with London Bor- ough of Barnet for 5 years as their Quality Manager. Then with cut backs in local government I was offered a deal to take redundancy for second time. Retirement at last gives plenty of opportunity for looking after our grand children, holidays and playing tennis.
Perhaps many of you will remember COLINS MUSIC HALL in Upper Street where one could get a four seater box almost on the stage for the princely sum of 4s 6d in the early 1950's. This old hall was pulled down to become part of Andersons Timber yard. I also saw with dismay the demolition of the great Finsbury Park Empire, home to many well known artistes. When I heard that it was to be demolished I rushed along to take some photographs. Too late, I stood on the stage, the roof had disappeared and the interior with its plush seats in the stalls and balcony was already a pile of rubble. It was a terrible sight and this destruction continued with the demise of such live entertainment in the 1960's.
Entertainment in many areas was in the form of fairs and circuses such as those held at Hampstead Heath and Barnet etc. In the working class areas of our towns and cities recreation was largely in the form of going to the pub or workingmens clubs. To attract the workers, especially on Pay Day Friday and Saturday and encourage them to remain longer in the pub to spend their hard earned wage, landlords of pubs in the 1860's engaged acro- bats, clowns, dancers and even performing dogs and monkeys. Lots of perform- ers sang and acted out their songs with the chorus accompanied loudly by its many drinkers. Pubs had by the 1880's extended the bar room by build- ing on a bigger room to accommodate more people. One such place was the "King's Head" in Upper Street which still thrives today in its tradition as a pub with live theatre.
So it was largely in pubs that the Music Hall began. As this form of enter-
tainment became popular there were more acts and more variety with one pub
trying to outclass its rival. With vast numbers attending the pubs and in-
sufficient room, it was necessary to build special buildings to accommo-
date its patrons, and so from small beginnings the Variety acts grew and
blossomed to become the Music Hall Empire that continued into the 1950's
There were usually 10 acts, the last act being top of the bill. Many pop- ular halls put on three shows daily. I saw Max Mi Her, Frank Randel, the Crazy Gang, Old Mother Riley, George Formby, Arthur Askey and others many times, even old timers like Will Fyffe and George Robey;
As well as the Music Hall in Union Street, Southwark built in 1859, Wiltons in the East End of London built in 1860, is now the oldest surviving build- ing of its kind. The T.V. programme showed how derelict it has become and in need of a substantial re-building programme in order to put it back to its former glory. Wiltons Music Hall was one selected to the final with nine other buildings but it did not succeed further. "Pack up your troubles- may not be sung there anymore but the Music Hall type of show and its form of variety has made a come back in recent years.
Turner's Music Hall near Northampton is well known and a favourite venue with its Merry-go-round rides, the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ concerts played by Nicholas Martin along with the old time music hall acts, makes a good day out and is open daily. There are many venues listed often in the maq- azine called "STICKS" The WYLLYOTTS theatre in Potters Bar have many good shows including a Music hall evening. Also, at Stevenage where the LYTTON PLAYERS put on such entertainment.
So, there are new venues with new acts with new Master of Ceremonies but
At least no longer are rotten tomatoes thrown at a poor performer although
it was all part of the audiences participation back in the old days.
The Wales Tourist Board has always claimed that it was one of the first and one of Europe's foremost open-air museums; moreover a visit to these extensive facilities is FREE. The site was for many years called Welsh Folk Museum and consists of centuries old buildings which have been moved stone by stone from the original sites all over Wales. The structures have been rebuilt in the Parkland surrounding St. Fagans Castle with its Summer House and formal gardens since the early 1950's.
Upon arrival you will enter a Modem building which houses a Visit Centre and standing museum of costume, instruments both farming and musical. Just the thing if the weather turns nasty. But today is a lovely day and you can wander along the paths of a woodland setting with small fields and paddocks. You will come across Farmhouse and Cottages of varying ages fully furnish in its original period. There are working exhibits such as Corn mills, Gorse mills. Woollen mill, Bakehouse, Pottery, Smithy, Wood turner. Cooper and Clog maker. Thankfully the Tannery does not work as the smell would be beyond belief. If you wish you can go back to school in the 1890s and join the children who visit from all over Wales. But beware the lessons are in Welsh. Another well visited exhibit is the terrace of Ironworkers cottages, with each cottage furnished in a different decade from 1890 to 1970. It was a bit disconcerting for me to see how far my memory went back. These exhibits together with Miners Institute, Chapel and valley store with varies other building all of which are open to all, each having their on-site attendant/guide/informer which make for a different sort of friendly experience.
As you can see the exhibits are numerous and varied and together with the special advents of all types include Old May Festival, Folk Dance Festival, Harvest Festival and Christmas Festivities can make for an exhausting day out. I hope John Tighe warned his fellow members to wear a pair of good shoes. You really do need more than one days visit to appreciate this FREE tourist attraction. So if anybody who knows me and fancies a visit let me know and we would join you for lunch and a stroll around the museum grounds to settle the food.
One little tale to tell. ....We took our two youngest grandchildren to the site one evening just before
Christmas. Whilst we were strolling around the seasonal attractions, we chance to hear the Chapel was just
about to start a Carol Service, so we hurried over. On entering the congregation shuffle round to let us in
and we sat down. The Organ started up, we stood up and as the singing began, a broad grin appeared on
our grandchildren faces. They enjoyed the Carol and we knew the tune, but the service was in Welsh
which the children had learnt the Carols at school............ Poor English Grandparents just looked at each
other and felt a little silly.
lechyd da...... ..Ron Tattam.
I received this poem over the internet from a distant female relative in Australia and thought some of your readers might find one or two familiar themes,
I'm a Senior Citizen and proud of it,
I'm the life and soul of the party, even when it last until 8pm,
I'm very good at opening childproof caps with a hammer,
I'm usually interested in going home before I get to where I am going,
I'm good for at least an hour without my aspirin and antacid,
I'm the first to find the bathroom where ever I go,
I am awake, hours before my body allows me to get up,
I'm smiling all the time because I can't hear a word you've saying,
I'm good at telling stories.. ..over and over and over,
I'm aware that other people's grandchildren are not as bright as mine,
I'm so cared for....eye care, dental care, private care and long term care,
I'm not grouchy; I just do not like traffic, crowd's, children and politicians,
I'm sure every thing I cannot find is in a secure place,
I'm spending more time with my pillow than with my mate,
I'm anti everything now.... anti fat, anti smoke, anti noise, anti inflammatory,
I'm walking more to the bathroom and enjoying it less,
I'm sure they are making adults much younger these days,
I'm a walking storeroom of knowledge....I've just lost the door key,
I'm a Senior Citizen and having me time of my life!!!!
THE WORLD WAS MADE ROUND SO THAT WE WOULD NEVER BE ABLE TO SEE TOO FAR DOWN THE ROAD.
I am sorry to report that the funds for producing and distributing
"Dave's GEN" have virtually run out. So, I would appreciate any
monetary contributions/stamps so that the GEN can carry on.
Dave Fairhurst, 31 Roedean Avenue, Enfield, Middx. EN3 5QJ 020 8804 1959
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