PAUL AFFORD. Hello Ernie, Just sat with my Mom and went through the photo gallery and lost an hour or so.
Just noticed the Requests For Information section. Dave Law wanted to know the whereabouts of Alan Robinson. Last known location is Lapworth, Warwickshire. He lives in the old gate house of a larger house called Catesby Manor that has been converted into apartments, its situated on the corner of Catesby Lane and Lapworth Street.
Also someone is looking for Tom Brassil, he was working at a building called Friars Gate in Shirley. He was working for the Health Care Commission I think, but I have not seen him for the last twelve months or so. However, having Googled his name I found this reference from a new set-up in April 2010 which might be him;- TOM BRASSIL, AM ( Birmingham Women's Hospital NHS Trust & Royal Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust) - I have seen him in Solihull in the last few weeks so he is still local, but I do not have contact details. If you have a contact number for Kevin Biddle he might have a contact number - I will send Kevin a message on Facebook and ask - Not definite details but it might help.
Regards, Paul - Posted - 9th April 2011.
Hi Ernie. - I have only today been told about the website for Fordrough Lane. It has brought back many happy memories and I remember quite a few of the folks in the many photos.
I started work at Jubilee Works, Sherlock Street, when I left school at 16 in 1973. I worked for Doris too ( like Tony Cotter) in the Addressograph Room with Kevin Wiggins and Clive Foster. I then moved to Fordrough Lane in 1974 where I worked in a few departments.
I am still in contact with Kay and Clive Foster, Elaine and Gary Mander, Janet Day, who is Sid Davies's daughter, June Mole and now Gill nee Adams. I remember so many people who i worked with and the Christmas parties that were always fun. - We all spent many a happy time in the County Girl pub and often came back a little tipsy.
My auntie - Millie Brookes worked in the factory and I often used to sneak out of the office ( always with papers in my hand) to see her. I loved the happy atmosphere in the factory, everyone was so happy. - I would love to hear from anyone who remembers me. I was Elaine Littlejohns when I started and then Elaine Sandilands when I got married in 1976. I left in 1978 when I had my daughter Fiona.
Elaine Sandilands, Email = firstname.lastname@example.org - Posted 9th April 2011.
Dear Ernie, My Dad (Les Allgood) started at Fordrough Lane at the age of 14 I believe, in 1936, apprenticed as a toolmaker. I know that he tried to enlist in the RAF at the start of the war and was soundly carpeted by the management as his was a 'reserved occupation' - he just thought he was being patriotic ! Just as well though as in 1941 my mother (Olive) was bombed out of her job at the BSA in Small Heath and came to work at the GPO where she met my dad. He was in the Home Guard during the war and told me how the place was bombed and how you could still see the damage years later. One day as a young lad he sneaked me in on a Saturday morning to have a look round - little was I to know that one day I too would be working in those very buildings. So as I say, if it wasn't for Hitler, I wouldn't be here as my parents would not have met !
So I grew up hearing all these names he used to work with - some were just names that stuck in my memory ("Farley", Johnny Harrodine, Don Pearson(whom he called PO for some reason), Sid Fletcher, Alan Jarvis, Bill Curry, (I later went to school with his son) other were closer to him as friends and colleagues (Bob Cawley, Harold Ensor- who photographed all our family weddings), Johnny Dadd, Johnny Halford - who I see has just died - he encouraged my interest in air rifle shooting. And of course "Murky" - John Murcott, almost a part of my family he was so close to us, dad and John worked together on a number of very advanced DIY projects as well as their shared enthusiasm for steam engines. John was a hero to me with his supercharged Mini. Our house had the very rare distinction in 1969 of not only having full central heating and a shower that they installed but also 300 feet of 5" gauge track round the back to run his engine on. Dad spent most of the 60s at Garrison Lane - where his window overlooked the railway - heaven to a steam fan ! He knew a guy called Wal Saunders in the electrical lab - later I would work in B Block with his son, Tony.
I lived in Stuarts Road Yardley - half of the street worked at the Lane - we had the Fergusons a few doors away(Ron, Enid, David etc - all factories people), Granville Mozdell (telemech) the other side, Colin Baker (Test Section) next door but one, Horace Knight (brother of Alan) over the road.
I read on the site a reference by Stan Walker - Dad certainly knew him and his brother also called Les - and strangely I was classmates with Les Walker's Daughter Marie at Saltley, we were great friends but have lost touch now.
I had no intention of joining the PO but events happened that I did - though it was the Test Section in 1977 that got me. I did 3 years with them and had a superb apprenticeship under Harold Humphries (whose son Alan you will remember as he got involved in POEU in later years). Apart from many skills they taught me, I also fell under the tutelage of a couple of the guys who ignited my amateur radio interests which led to many more friends. Also at this time the first home computers were starting to appear and I decided that I really wanted to work with these- not do batch sample analysis or calibrate test equipment all day. So I put in a transfer to FacD. I joined Dick Richardson's department in A Block- just across the gap from C Block but a world apart. New friends were made - some of whom Dad had mentioned over the years - Sokhi Bansal, Dave Pickerell, Ron Dawes etc ). Everywhere I went people I didn't know would ask " are you Les Allgood's lad ?" - I could see how much he was thought of though it was a bit of a reputation to live up to ! Still my line was electronics rather than mechanical so our paths didn't cross that much at work. It did seem odd though to visit the Mech Lab in the basement and see Dad and several others I knew from home all in their (cow gowns).
Dad was looking forward to retirement at 60 - he and mom worked out how they could just about get by until the State Pension came in at 65. He was counting down the days, I think by then he had had enough - unfortunately we didn't realise he was ill, he managed to keep it from us and we didn't know he had severe heart disease until Christmas 1981 when a massive heart attack and stroke killed him in a week - just 3 weeks from his retirement. He was awarded the DSM posthumously which he had been thrilled about but as he was fond of saying " story of my life, too bloody late again !".
I continued on in my career - becoming an AEE in the early eighties and finally an EE. We did some fantastic stuff ADEKS the call concentrator system, I designed the CPU (borrowing heavily on my home computer experimentation), then it was onto System 565 - a technological triumph but inexplicably cancelled at the last minute by the powers that be. I still have my team member's plaque on my desk as I write. I worked with some great guys - Adrian Booth, Martin Clapton, Pete Ellis, Jon Bansal( no relation to Sokhi), Paul Freer, Barry Underwood and many more. When the project wound up I was transferred to work under Eric Mitchell and Dave Hopper on SyncNux. Eric taught me such a lot about management and we truly got on well as a team. Obviously someone thought I hadn't yet reched my level of incomptence as they made me EE. By this time I was finding a growing interest in the manufacturing side of my world rather than R & D and it was the era of the Enterprise Initiative, start your own business, become a millionaire ! Well I did one of those things - and it wasn't the second one !
It was pre Sovereign but the first stage of the factories slim down was happening and they asked for volunteers to take early retirement - this being 1990 I couldn't believe my luck - I got my application in straight away and unbeknown to me my colleague Chris Harding was number two to apply then we found out our department was to expand and the last thing they wanted was to lose two of it's EEs ! So a bit of a battle ensued, it took us 9 months to get them to agree to let us go. I set up my business with my payoff Chris went around the world on his.
I got married and moved to the Scottish Highlands initially and for 6 years grew our tiny business (along the lines of the FacD Model Shop) before inevitably family ties overcame our love of the highlands and we returned south to live now in Telford. We are still not very big (6 people). Occasionally I bump into ex BT/Fulcrum people at my customers - Fred Mann from the Drawing Office is now at Goodrich(Lucas) in Hall Green for instance.
My mother died in 2007 in her mid eighties and amongst the mourners I spoke to Bob Cawley who still keeps in touch with a few of their generation.
So sorry if I haven't mentioned anyone, there were so many characters and like it or not we were one big family. I guess a place like that just wouldn't exist nowadays. If anyone wants to get in touch feel free to Email - email@example.com
PETER ALLGOOD. - Posted - 14th April 2011.
Dear Ernie, I worked at Fordrough Lane from 1975 till 1983. Peter Watkins my husband worked there from 1976 till 1990 when he took voluntary redundancy. Pete is one of those featured on the picket line, that why I have got in touch.
We had some fantastic times and we both have a lot of treasured memories, Alan Knight was my line manager, I was shocked and upset to see that he had died so young. I also worked with the sisters, Sue and Gaynor, Carol Ashraf, Olive Denhart, Tony Dugmore and Marie Hogarth. I would like to know how Marie Hogarth is.
Jackie & Pete Watkins - firstname.lastname@example.org - posted 21st April
Hi Ernie, Thanks for latest batch of P.O. Factories Information, photos etc. As always, all were most interesting. Regarding the 21 photos, all brought back memories of the '50's, but the separate one was outside my scope.
The London March, although I did not see myself on any of the pictures ! The lads of the far-end of the Switchboard Shop, near the Machine Shop, but further over and behind the Cabinet Shop, where my bench was.
As I have said before, Reg Mander and Ron Lee were on the other side of the gangway to Harry Baulch and myself, nearest the Cabinet Shop, whilst some of the other lads in the photos were spread out in gangways towards the end wall/toilets of the shop. Some of the faces look so familiar, but unfortunately, I cannot bring back names !
The demonstration outside the wall was presumably in the mid '80's/'90's and therefore after my time there, although, I was probably in Region or N & W Mid District (Wolverhampton) at the time.
Sorry I can't help with names. All the best - Peter. - Posted 21st April 2011.