BeestonMick

Royal Ordnance factory - Nottingham

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He worked in the Maintenance section.

About what year was that? I lounged around the electrical department from 1967-1972. I remember when I first started working with the sparkies our 'compound' was on the right hand wall as you walked in the main door of the North shop. They used to feed a huge manky cat that then repaid them by slashing all over the option. Then they moved maintenance to where the rifle range was.

Edit: I just remembered that the sign over the rifle range which said "Rifle Range", strangely enough, was often edited by the apprentices. The best they could come up with was "tRifleoRange", which I thought was a bit childish! :laugh:

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I moved to the Maintenance section in 1975- the final year of your apprenticeship was when you moved to whatever department you had opted for.

Yes, the maintenance section was above the rifle range by then, opposite the medical centre ( that was always a great place to "rest" for a couple of hours, or get a ride home in that old Bedford ambulance- " i feel dizzy,nurse" usually did the trick)

While i was there, the engineering department Mechanical (EDM), and the engineering department electrical (EDE) were in the same area, having one half of the building each.

Did they have the separate compound on 14 bay as well while you were there ? It was next to the Milwaukie Matic, an automatic machine that would carry out all the machining operations on a breach ring in one go, well, it did when it was working.

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Trickymicky, Yes that was Gren, He was in the Sherwood Rangers at Carlton with me, shared many a happy hour with that joker. Bessie Mawer was a little younger and also a Ranger, well built chap who could be a bit feisty.

In the late 70s when we changed from 76mm Saladin to 30 mm Raden cannon on the Fox I was gunnery instructor and managed to get hold a some empty cases. These were immediately transported down to the ROF, dummy projectiles were made and fitted and the results were shared round the Sgt's mess.

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Yes blondie' i knew Paul,Ist met him playing cricket schooldays 50s,then did'nt see him again until the 90s when we were both working in Town,he lived at Beeston then and cycled the canal to work,he has a son called Chris who worked in Security.

We knew him and his first wife Sue, who I am still in touch with..................We, (my hubby and me) went around with them when they lived in Gedling.....Was sorry when they split up, because I liked them both.......They had 3 children, Chris was the eldest and he went to live on the Bestwood Estate........Paul went to live in Cotgrave and Sue lives near Newark, they both have new partners now............Did you know that he went in the Police Force ?......

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When I started at 15 the apprentice system was quite traditional. School leavers left at the end of the term when they were 15. Before being signed on as an apprentice at 16 we had to do 4 months as messenger boy / dogsbody before doing 8 months in the capstan shop. I started as messenger /office boy in Central Stores under Mr Kent and Mr Rabin. For the first week I was shown the ropes by Rusty Phillis who started 1 term earlier. At the end of my 4 months I showed the ropes to Ray Herbert who's dad was a miller in South shop. First job was to make the fire in Mr Kents office ready for his arrival at 9 o'clock. I think Mo Edis started in Ray Herbert's group, as did my present day freinds Dave (Spike) Scott and .John (Crem) Gregory. Our education was amazing by todays standards. By the age of 16 we could set up a capstan lathe, sharpen cutting tools, set up die boxes, read micrometers and verniers etc. We also learnt the metric system because most components were for Bofors Swedish design guns. And we were not even apprentices at that point! Then we spent one year in the apprentice training shop under Ernie Frake and made a set of tools that required us to do learn all the basics. ....more to follow if anyone is interested...

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@TRICKYMICKY: When I was apprentice we did one year in the apprentice shop (draw file draw file draw file zzzz) then we went to wherever for the last three years. It was good to get rid of Scrappit and take the piss when you were sent in as an electrician to repair his hair dryer. A lot of the guys I worked with would have still been there when you were there. I'll PM you some names as they might not like them plastered all over here. Yes, they had there own deal on 14 bay, that's why we all wanted to get in there, nobody could see you doing homers.

Hmm, the medical centre. I had a rather "unfortunate" accident outside of work when I was no more than 17. I went to see the nurse rather than going to A&E. To say I was embarrassed was very much an understatement, I didn't flash the crown jewels to everybody. I though she was shocked because she was crying but then I realised she was amused.

She fixed me up though.

@PeverilPeril: Go for it! I made inside calipers, outside calipers, jack bodies, some brass valves for the steam engine they were building but could never get the hang of welding although my soldering, lead and silver, was and still is, the dogs.

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Did you get the weekly visit to the swimming baths ?. We had a chap called Les Brooks off the shop floor who would walk us through the meadows to the swimming baths for the compulsory exercise session. He reckoned he was a championship swimmer, but never went in himself, he would just stand at the deep end shouting at us.

On the last visit there someone got behind him and shoved him in. Not sure he could actually swim at all, but he learned then. He was furious..

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Bloody hell yeh, Les Brooks. I remember the swimming. His hips were knackered weren't they, he walked a bit funny. Not sure how that happened but he was very fit upper body wise in 1966/67 as I remember.

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Having to work a 42 hour week and do 3 nights nightschool + homework was quite demanding. The old guys thought we had it easy having a 'day off' to go to Tech College. My first pay packet was 27/6- but it went up after 6 months to 32/-. Most lads were studying City & Guilds but I was put on the HNC course along with the student apprentices (posh sons of professional people) who were on sandwich courses = 6 month shop floor 6 months college or Uni. I had to do it the hard way. I eventually got dropped from the HNC course in spite of passing the exams and winning a prize for high marks. My lack of homework marks, which were seen as part of the course, let me down. I just didn't have the time and energy + beer and girls were a bad influence. City & Guilds full tech was a doddle after doing HNC work. I still use the tools I made. The usual calipers, tap and die wrenches. Vee blocks, parallels, vice, scribing block, jacks and a micro adjustable boring head. I made a hight gauge using verniers robbed from the machine grave yard in North shop, but it was nicked.

For 3 years following the year in the apprentice training shop we spent 4 or 6 months on different sections. Marking out, fitting, inspection, turning and milling etc. We then stayed on the last section for the final year and were put on partial piecework and that would be our final trade. I was on H&V boring in North shop. It really was a brilliant apprenticeship system (RR used the same) and because there were so many spare machines due to redundancies and not much work, we were able to do a lot of jarvo..... more if anyone interested....

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As 16/17 year olds we had to do gym work in the canteen once a week. In summer we sometimes ran to the Embankment sports field to play footy. Jock the Scottish ex army pti used to take us. There were a three nice skives that we went on. The Civil Defence, Auxiliary Fire Service and St Johns Ambulance. Volunteers would go on one or the other for 2 hours each week and get paid 2/6- for it. We had some great times putting out fires that we built and during really hot summer days we would be called out to go on to the factory roofs hosing the glass to cool the factory down. We loved heat waves - 2/6- a time too. I had a bad experience on a Civil Defence exercise. A smoke bomb was thrown into an air raid shelter and we had to crawl through so as to breath the clear air near the ground. Not very nice without breathing gear but the worst bit was when fireworks were thrown in, just to make it seem real! One exploded near my head and I was deaf for 2 weeks. Never fully recovered and I have been totally deaf for 16 years now. I hear with a cochlear implant. Another useful skive was to go on a factory walkabout which was OK if you had a bit of paper in your hand. It was good experience though, because we could wander about and observe the forge, dropstamp, foundry etc. I used to love watching the naval gun barrels being heat treated in the oil pits. Flame shooting up to the fireproof cranes when the barrels were lowered into the oil........

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#29 yes blondie, he was in the force when i last spoke to him.

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More jarvo please.

For the uninisiated (sp), 'Jarvo' was a term used for jobs for yourself, or 'foreigners' as some people called them. A mate had a worn crankshaft welded with stellite and I was turning the welded surfaces with a carbide tip tool on a DSG. The foreman came up and enquired "is that a part of a car engine"? Yes, I replied, and he just walked away. Shortage of work. Keeping idle hands busy. It was how it was.

There used to be a wedding tradition. Everyone got married on Saturdays then. So the groom was treated to a ceremony on the Friday before. A piss pot - sorry - chamber pot, was fixed high up in his bays gantry. It was filled to the brim with weak orange juice and topped with a few sausages. Looked like the real deal! When he returned from the traditional lunchtime drink he was 'drummed in' - every one banging the suds guards and bins with spanners. The drumming continued until the unfortunate groom had shimmied up the gantry and retrieved the po, and in doing so got a good soaking with the questionable contents.....

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It certainly wasn't weak orange juice when I was a lad, for some unknown reason I got away with having to crawl up into the gods.

In the 60's there were always a couple of grinders in the grinding bay set up for Lambretta cylinders and heads. To be fair, there was never any restrictions with us for such things.We were allowed projects, I made a 50W x 50W stereo amplifier and an electronic ignition for my car, I still have the amplifier, unused but it's still there, Tommy Tedds bought the car. At that time they were using the forge presses to smash up experimental electronic equipment presusmably from Old Dalby. We used to bribe the lorry drivers to turn away for five. We used to dive in to the skips and swipe whatever was useful - we were probably the first re-cyclers :-)

Free electronic parts in the 1960's was a godsend.

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I spent a lot of time making stuff for myself, probably too much. Being on maintenance, it was easy to get a "pink slip" off the foreman, which enabled you to get more or less what you wanted made on the shop floor.

The big issue for me was security- MOD police at the main gate, and as everyone left at the end of the shift there was always a random search where a couple of us were pulled in. I once got caught with a large cycle thread tap, which was actually my own, that i had just made something with. The cops loved it, and next morning it was sat on my managers desk. He just laughed and gave it back to me.

We found numerous ways of getting the stuff out and distracting the security if necessary. One of the more memorable ones was on the previously mentioned trip home in an ambulance. The driver thought all the stuff was a college project and we piled it all in the back of the ambulance. Security just waved us straight through!

Another term which seems unique to the rof is "rigley". I always used mine.

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I feel like having a rigley right now!!

George Perkins, one of the electricians, a short stumpy bloke, decided he needed some three core cable at home. He wrapped all fifty yards around his upper body, he looked like a weeble. He then collapsed through lack of breath just outside the gates and was rushed to hospital. We did ask him if they had to surgically remove the cable.

The other classic one was the fuse wire for the Birlec furnaces. The wire was made of precious metals including gold and platinum. The wire came in small rolls not disimilar to a roll of solder. One guy, not sure who it was, was knicking any of the wire he could find. He'd then go to the fence and hurl it over in to the canal (canal/river? I can't remember) Later him and his boy would go down there, the boy would dive for the wire and off they'd go. He did get caught in the end but what the final outcome was I don't know.

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Another one, which i can confirm .. is the firewood concession. They would let you buy a barrow load of firewood off the waste heap for five bob, but of course you had to show the receipt that you had paid for it to go out the main gate to the car park. It proved very popular- people were taking the wood out on a new wheelbarrow they had just got from the stores and not returning with it.

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trickymickey, pembo would have been about 6ft 2 tall small moustache largish ears looked a bit like clarke gable.

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Thats him. He was a nice chap from memory, and didnt play any of those cruel tricks on us apprentices, like sending us to the stores for a bucket of sparks, or some sky hooks..

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nicest and most honourable man i ever known, died October 1991

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50's apprentice pranks. My time on inspection was with Bob (Gypsy) Morris in south shop. A great bloke who wore his hair long, well before it became fashionable - hence the nickname Gypsy. Bob always brought a Granny Smith apple to work for his morning lunch break. The apple along with his tea mug were always placed on a wooden platter on his inspection table. His tidiness and the daily apple/mug ritual became my target for a laugh. The pranks started with an accident when I knocked his prize mug over and broke it. Bob was not there so I glued it back together with tinned milk. Looked great until bob pored tea into it from his billy can. It just collapsed before his eyes. I tried to look just as amazed as he was, but he saw through the plot and 'batted me tab'. I took exception to the batting so planned a further raid on the (new) mug. Bob habitually drank his tea and replaced the mug on the platter before picking up the apple to peel it. Trouble was he didn't spot that I had nailed the apple to the wooden platter. I vanished and got lost for the rest of the morning until he had cooled down..Another new mug. No more mug raids for a couple of weeks but I was scheming. The final mug raid had to be something special because I was about to be moved onto another section. I had studdied how the vertical miller situated just behind the inspection table was started up by Charlie when he returned from lunch. When Bob was away at lunch I tied some fine fishing line to the mug handle and tied the other end to the splined end of the longitude traverse (no guards then). So Bob sat down at his inspection table only to see his mug take flight when Charlie engaged rapid traverse!! He grabbed me and we had a wrestle and he nearly broke my arm off. he broke his watch in the skermish, which I felt sorry about. Charlie thought it was hilarious as did a few others. Bob and I became very good friends. j

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That kind of stuff used to happen all the time, very funny n'all. The older blokes used to tell us that during WWII during the blackout naughty marker outs who found anyone sleeping would paint their heels with whitewash. This little prank got taken a step further. Anybody found kipping with white heels had bits of metal tack welded to their boots (a lot of work boots then had hefty steel heels and toe caps) some even got welded to their benches! Woe betide anyone who dozes off :-)

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