Post Office Factory

Post Office Factory , Fordrough Lane, Birmingham

Where Are They Now Part 3. - Started 15th November 2010.

TONY COTTER

The following letter was received on 13th November 2010, from our ex Birmingham Factories Colleague TONY COTTER, who worked in all three of the Birmingham Factories during his service. - For the record, - Tony joined the Post Office in August 1974 as a Clerical Assistant at Sherlock Street. Initially working for Doris Hemmington in the 'Addressograph Room', this is where he met his great pal Johnnie Bowers (he was best man at Linda and Tony's wedding and they bought his house in Polesworth from him, when he went to live in Canada). Upon promotion to Clerical Officer in 1975, Tony moved up to Fordrough Lane, and worked in Wages Group. He then became a progress chaser spending time in GL1/GL3, working for Dennis Lane at Garrison Lane, before taking up a role on Staff Recruitment in Staff Group back at Fordrough Lane working for Bill Harvey. When Fulcrum computerised their manufacturing process, Tony was selected to be one of the first computer operators in the newly formed IT department working for Dave Pinwell. Tony took Voluntary redundancy in 1987 to join Digital Equipment Company in Sutton Coldfield. What happened after that ? -  Tony has recorded below;-

Hello Ernie, - Yes, that's me - The Tony Cotter ! I came across your great website by accident a few months back, and thought it about time I actually did something about joining up. It's a terrific way to keep in touch with people that I had so much fun with all those years ago, many thanks to you for keeping the site running.

I have a few old photographs that I plan to send you for posting as soon as I get my new scanner up and running. In the meantime, just a quick update on what's happening in our lives. Linda (nee Green) and I have been living in South Oxfordshire since 1999. We relocated close to Reading due to my work. I commuted daily between Polesworth and Reading for 3 years before calling a halt to the 260 mile round trip, and we relocated to a tiny village just outside Didcot.

I've changed jobs twice since then. When I left Fulcrum in 1987, I joined an IT company called Digital Equipment Co., where I stayed until 2001. Linda joined me at Digital in Reading, and stayed on after I left to join my current employer, Accenture. She finally left in 2007 and now works 5 minutes from home on the Harwell Atomic Authority campus, working for the Health Protection Agency, advising the public about Radon gas. A far cry from purchasing screws and metals in Provision Group !

Sadly, due to relocating South, we're not in touch with any of the old Post Office/BT/Fulcrum crew any more. I religously went to Cheltenham for the Gold Cup every year with Tommy Taylor, Bob Irwin, Steve Sutton, Dick Kibilski & Co but I don't think any of them go any more. I still go with my brother Mick - he used to drive the Fulcrum car, after transferring from Saltley Depot as a long distance HGV driver. He's retired now.

Both Linda and I still have family in Birmingham, so we make the trip up now and then. It would be great to come along to one of your monthly meetings to see a few old faces. - If anyone wants to contact me to catch up on old times, please pass on my e-mail address.

      Linda & Tony Cotter, Reading, Berks.     -    Posted on 15th November 2010.                       

David Law.

The following message was received from David Law - Dear Ernie, came acroos your site completely by accident, what a great site it is, it enables one to reflect on what a wonderful place the Lane was to work.  I joined, what was the Post Office Factories, during 1972 and worked in FL2, with so many great characters and people too many to remember, I only wish I could recall some of their names, they taught me so much.

I then moved to work in the "Labs" on test equipment, another chapter of my life that I will never forget all for the right reasons, working with Pete Smith, Ken Knock, Anwar, Sharif, Dave Irwin, Clive Branson, Terry Stanfield, Eric Mitchell, John Alcock and many more. I then moved onto the Training School working with Alan Robinson, who was a great person, full of life, I will never forget his wedding day, but now hear that he got divorced.

I left the Lane and worked with Jim Wood in Kent, until finally went back to work in Birmingham with BT. Retired from BT in March 1999 and now live in Kidderminster and after so many years managed to recently speak to Ken Knock. I will never forget the experience of working at the Lane it was an experience that you only get once in ones life and to see the photos and read the stories within your website has brought back many wonderful memories. Thanks for the hard work that you have obviously put in to this site. The photos I have attached were originally sent to me from Terry Brown, who also worked in the Labs, so he should have the real credit. One person I would love to contact is Alan Robinson if anyone has contact with Alan, please will you pass my address forward to him. 

 David Law,  Kidderminster,  Worcs. -  Posted 8th January 2011.  

 

Terry Brown

Dear Ernie, Dave Law pointed me to your website, which is excellent. It's a shame we didn't have the benefit of digital cameras back then.

From my perspective - I joined BT Factories in 1974 straight from school as a Trainee Factory Technician (TFT) this was a great opportunity to gain an apprenticeship as we were given plenty of hands-on training in many disciplines, in addition to day release at college. There were a few times I questioned my choice of profession. As plate wiring relay sets, adjusting uniselector backlash and armature gaps didn't seem like something I wanted to do ! But, I did stick it out and following my three years I moved into the FHQ Labs with the rest of the "boffins" designing and buiding test equipment for the factories (PAT 3) dial testers etc. as well as working on designs from Martlesham for exchange and infrastructure equipment.

One of the reasons for "sticking with it " were the great people I had the pleasure of working with and getting to know. There were about 40 TFTs in the class of 74 but over the years many of the names have slipped from my memory. The few I do remember, and some I am still in contact with, Kevin Biddle, Paul Freer, Tony Duggins, Peter Ellis, Kevin Parker, Clive Preece, Warren D'rosario, Derek Bullivant, Dave Perks, Nigel Dudas, Michael Woodward. I am not aware of  a photo that includes everyone, which is a shame.

I have many fond memories from my years at BT Factories/Fulcrum and although I left in 1988 I'm still in contact with a few people. I moved to Chepstow to join Mitel and in my new role ended up working closely with the BT Product folks in Felixstow as the Product Manager on the TSX50 PBX which was one of the many OEM PBX Products being made by Mitel for BT (Regent, Viceroy, Kingsman).

In 1995 I moved to Canada to work at Mitel's Corporate Headquarters and have been living near Ottawa, Ontario ever since although I'm no longer working in the telcoms industry. Having been in Canada for 16 years and brought up a family over here, I found the photos of the site prior to it's demolition quite moving. It seems a shame we have so little photograph records of it's long past. However, you are building a great collection through the site and the contribution of others. - I have been trying to get back in contact with Dave Lamb if anyone knows his whereabouts please forward my details on to him.    

      Terry Brown,  Ottawa,  Ontario,   Canada   -    Posted 8th January 2011.  

Desmond O'Toole.

Ernie.... As I live and breathe ! How are you, Brother ? David Law sent me a link to your website and WOW ! it really has brought a whole lot of memories flooding back.

How are things with you ? As you can see I moved back to Dublin and am doing a lot of political work now for the Irish Labour Party and the Party of European Socialists. I worked with BT until I moved to the joint venture that was set up in Dublin 12 years ago. Took redundancy 6 years ago and decided to go to University to study Early Irish History and Greek & Roman Civilisation. Now looking for a job that combines telecommunications, the ancient and medieval worlds and socialist politics !!!!!  - Great to see that there is a space for PO/BT Factories on the web !  

 Desmond O'Toole - Dublin, Eire. Posted 8th January 2011. 

Andy Tedds.

Hi Ernie,   I was very pleased to have been sent a link to your site by Andy Stevenson. What a great site, it certainly brings back whole bunch of memories.

I started working in FL5 on the 6th Floor 'J' Block, Fordrough Lane, in April of 1980. Working on Incoming AC9 Signalling Units, Cable Locators and WB400/600 Equipment.  Moving to H2 when the new buildings were erected and then working on Microfiche Readers for a while. I see there is a picture of me on your site, working on those Microfiche Readers (Wow ! I had hair then.) - Later I moved to the Training Centre with Dave Law. I remember training many a Factory Technician on the 3rd Floor of 'J' Block, what great times and great friendships. I also used to teach Unix and other courses on the M6000 to staff and other customers with George Squires.

I have a trophy, still proudly displayed on a shelf, from an inter-section cricket championship that I won with Lee Harrodine, aka "H" and Gez Bettney. I was their wicket keeper back then in 1988.   I'm still in contact with a few people from PO/BT Fulcrum/Fujitsu etc., via Facebook.

I now live in a little town called Ashley Falls, MA, USA, (Since 2001) - Feel free to pass my email address to colleagues that would like to contact me.  I was also given this link recently -  http://www.ringbell.co.uk/ukwmo/index.htm  - and I'm sure it has information that some of our ex-colleagues would like to look over. 

 All the best and Happy New Year,   Andy Tedds    - Posted 13th January 2011.

Ossie Williams.

Ossie has been in touch as follws;-  Happy New Year to you and yours, wishing you all the best for 2011. We are in a winter storm that has all but shut down Atlanta for the pst several days. Not all bad however, since I was able to enjoy some peaceful days at home.

I wanted to tell you that I take the time to read your messages and appreciate the opportunity to travel down memory lane which many of the names you mention provide. Very sad to hear about the passing of Alan Knight - seems like only a short while ago we were in the training school together. I suspect Alan was the year ahead of me.

Wanted to share the attached photo with you( see in - Photo Gallery album - Additions 2011.) and all the visitors to the post office factory website. It is one of those moments in time when Lawrie Rumens would say " If the devil could cast his net". For me it is a real test of my recall of names and faces. Of course, many of the names and faces are indelible but I confess that with the passing of time, there is an increasing number of faces whose names I can no longer call to mind. I look forward to the identification process which I know will follow the publication of the picture.

Looking forward to an early visit to England this year and will let you know the exact time once decided. In the meantime, be assured that your efforts to connect the "family" is something I now check as soon as i see your email. Thank you and feel free to share my contact email with everyone. Take care and I will look for the picture on the website.

 Ossie Williams -  oewillos@yahoo.com   -  Posted 16th January 2011

Gillian Adams

Hi, I have emailed you before as I was saying how my father Bill Adams worked for 40 years at Fordrough Lane Punch card Unit in the 1960's and he was an EO and later HEO so did the rounds of all the main offices. He tells me now(he's 84) and just recovering from a stroke, he cannot bear to look at the pictures of Fordrough Lane gone, and a housing estate in its place. I can quite understand, it is quite sad, I myself worked at Saltley and then Fordrough Lane Factories for around six years.

I am writing in again as maybe you can post this on the site. I don't have any photos unfortunately but I read with interest the post by Tony Cotter who may recall me Gillian Adams as I too worked in the Wages Office 1976 - 80 as indeed he did, and maybe if he reads this he will be familiar with names I'm going to mention from this time. Clive and Kay who married and who are still married met in the offices there in 1976. I recall Dot a woman who sat along the back tables with us and Judy Roxborough, Sandra, Jenny, and Caroline Joyce. Another chap called Bob Eaton and Phil and that's about it I think. Behind us was Work Order. 

I went to work in the Drawing Offices and names there are Dennis Johnson, Madge. I worked with Pauline Holt whom I tracked recently on Facebook. I had 2 years at Saltley which I believe the original offices are still there, I worked with Nancy Foster, Hilda Woodcock, Bevan Hill, who was a real character, whatever happened to him ? Roy Caldecott and Janine Stone who I recall married, Margaret Robinson, CharlieBathurst, he died many years ago at quite a young age and not long after retirement, Pamela Mann, Barbara Oakley who committed suicide which was awful, other faces I can see but have no names, then there was a downstairs and I worked with Olive ? and her cat. Andrea, Carol and Sandra.......and a man who smoked a pipe and had a Morris minor. The HEO was Bernard Deaves... my friend was Jeanette Raitte and she and I are still the best of friends today. Frank in the front offices on the switchboard and two men, I can only name one George. The photos on the site are great I wish there were some from the times I was there in the 1970's.

Gillian Adams,    -     localmango@aol.com    -   Posted   23rd January    2011.

Dave Cassells

Hi Ernie, - Thanks to Andy Tedds I had a look at the website for the first time today. It is great to see the names and faces of the people who worked there and it brought back many happy memories for me.

I joined the PO Factories in 1973 as a TFT and stayed until 1999 (although it was called Fujitsu or "FTEL" by then). After two years in the Training School being trained by Alan Robinson (who named me the Sundance Kid because of my name !), Dinky Jones and Reg Mander (to name but a few) I went into the Toolroom until 1985.

Then I saw the writing on the wall - the electronic era was on us and I made a move back into the Training School working for Bill McCarney as a Trainer. That picture of Terry Clarke sure does bring back memories as he and I became close colleagues for the next seven years ! ( I wish I could contact TC) I also worked with Andy Tedds and Graham Wyley in thos days.

In 1993 I took on the role of H & S Officer which I did until 1999 when I left and went to Marconi. I remember so well the safety committee under Bill Robinson's chairship.   I'm now working for Amey doing H & S and have two grown up kids. I often mention the wonderful years that the Post Office Factories gave me and have always been grateful for those happy days.

May I finish by wishing you and all of my old colleagues, friends and associates the very best of health and happiness now and for the future. Oh and congratulations on putting together a great web site.

Dave Cassells,   Email -    david.cassells@yahoo.co.uk   -  Posted 25th January 2011.

ALAN LOTT

Greetings Ernie,

It was nice to speak with you again - I do believe we only spoke once before and that was during a walk around the POF site one lunchtime in, most probably, May 1953. Those intervening 58 years have for most of us been quite eventful.

It is not easy to make observations about a workplace at which I was only at for six months but I do have some vague memories of the place - the switchboard assembly plant which I think was on the ground floor, the laboratories of which I often peered through the windows as I had a more scientific interest than that of telecommunications. There was the gatehouse which was visited twice daily - in and out - how could one forget that. Another vivid picture was the view from the Trainees floor - a view over most of Birmingham and beyond. I think we werein one of the tallest buildings in Birmingham at that time. I don't recall a canteen but there must have been one; I do remember the canteen at Bournville - maybe the food was better.

My highlights - and that is probably why I didn't fit well into a factory environment - was our twice weekly days at Bournville College. I liked that place and Bournville itself very much indeed. In fact an occupation undertaken shortly after my leaving the GPO was in the pharmaceutical industry and it also found me one day per week at Bournville College (at my request, which, was granted).

I never lived in Birmingham, the Solihull area being my domicile and by mid 1954 I found myself in a new home in in Devon. Apart from six years service with the Royal air force I have lived here ever since. By the time I left the RAF I decided that a career in sales and management would be a change of direction from what had gone before: this i continued until retirement until I was almost 59 years old. I also served as a retained Fireman for 29 years so I have had an interesting life so far.

Best wishes and hopefully we may meet up during the summer, Alan Lott, Brixham,  Devon.  -   Posted 10th February 2011.

KEITH BEESLEY

Hi Ernie, - Just found your website through Pete Cox. I live in Almeria, Spain now with Pauline (Ballard), we got married in the Seychelles a few years ago.

Bob Miles lives out here about 1.1/2 hours away, been out here since retiring 4.1/2 years ago. Mick O'Carrol has a house out here as well. Hope you are all keeping well.

Please thank Bill Mills for giving me a job in the Radio Shack (wooden huts) at Fordrough Lane 1972.

Keith Beesley  -  Message posted - 9th March 2011.

 

STAN WALKER

Hi, I've just discovered the site and although I can't add mush I thought what I can may be of some interest. I started in the Toolroom on leaving school at 14 in 1944. The Foreman, at the time, was Sid Farley, assistant Foreman Ted Hibbert. We had a very comprehensive education on all the machine tools.

We youngsters had plenty of opportunity for sport, I was a member of the air-rifle team and cricket team, and also attended dances in the canteen and it was at one of these that i met a girl who worked in Plating Shop, Vera Court, who I eventually married.

We were also sent, one day a week, to Bourneville to the Day Continution School, this we enjoyed because we could "chat-up" the girls and get "reject Chocs" !  

I left in 1951 to do my National Service and never returned to the P.O. but did start up a small engineering company with my brother Les who also worked at the P.O. and later by Frank Smith another Toolroom tradesman. I might add we were not successful and all went our separate ways.

Names I can remember from those days are Les Allgood, Stan Smelt, Ken Trevethick, Bob Jones, Bob Cawley, Frank Witton and Ray Dudley.

Best regards Stan Walker.  Posted 25th March 2011.