Post Office Factory

Post Office Factory , Fordrough Lane, Birmingham

 -WHERE ARE THEY NOW PART 6 - THIS PAGE WAS STARTED 9th JUNE 2015.

KAY WHITTINGHAM, (ROSE) NEE (ROBERTS.

Hi, What a great and easy find.

I worked at Fordrough Lane between 1979 to 1984 as a CO. I worked in the "machine room" that was a precursor to the computerised systems, transferring stock information to tape.

I left to have my daughter in 1984 and later went on to train as a teacher. I remarried and moved to Cornwall where life is near perfect; but will always remember those early days and would love to contact a few. In particular those whom I shared the office with;      Hazel Stewart and Jayne Wheeler.

 Best wishes and kind regards, Kay Whittingham (Rose) nee (Roberts).

 Contact - kwhittingham.outreach@gmail.com

Posted - 9th June 2015.

   PAUL GALLON

 Hi Ernie,

I joined PO factories on 12th June 1972 for my first job after leaving school. As part of the Betty Parish Clerical Army. I spent the next 22 years of my working life at The Lane meeting many wonderful people.

During those years I worked in A, B, C, D, H1 and J Blocks at various times working in Personnel (When it was about people not Human Resources) with Paul Meakin, Jim Wedge, Winnie Tyler, and Maureen Dobbie amongst others.   Provision Group with Brenda Peers, Maureen Casey, Linda Harris, Linda Cotter(nee Green) Jim Morrison,  Dave Saunders, Stella Styles(nee Hobbs) and again  many more.  Ledger Keeper working with Archie Popplewell at times where stocktaking was involved, FL5 Progress, worked/trained by Hilda Rose and Jenny Barrington.

On moving to  Supplies Division, Transport Department, in 1981, I left the Factories Division and worked for Bert Taylor and with Paul Carleton, Tim Hancock, Brian Ward(ex Factories) was also there. Stan Simpson and Stan Freeman were also there. I was also a founder member of the clerical cricket and darts teams with Bob Eaton and Paul Meakin also playing for the PO Stores team with Ron Jackson and Barry Hughes.

I moved to QA on promotion and still at Fordrough Lane, More great people to work with, Helen Meakin, Wendy Homer, John Nash, Terry Finn, Trevor Ray, Bob Wells, Paul Feasey again to name but a few.   I worked at The Lane until April 1994 a few months before BT moved out. 

I then spent the next ten years in Directory Enquiries at Chelmsley Wood until the work was moved to India.  The next chapter of my career with BT included, short spells managing teams in Billing(work again moved to India). Twelve months with a team on residential faults, both jobs in Brindley Place.

I spent nearly five years as N3 Project Delivery Office Manager at Trinity Park(NEC) delivering the N3 network to the NHS. This part of the project came to a natural conclusion and I headed back to the City centre to manage Order Management Teams for the remainder of my BT career until November 2012 when I took advantage of a release package.

The year after I left Factories Division, I had the first sign I had a health issue with my legs. This was eventually diagnosed as Multiple Sclerosis which has continued to progress since, resulting in my mobility and balance declining. BT colleagues were always helpful and supportive of my condition.       My family are very supportive including my wife of 39 years, Alison, my three children and our three young grandsons.

I do not go out very often, but still attend Blues home games and have renewed my season ticket for next season which will be my 21st consecutive season at St. Andrews.

An enjoyable 40.5 years working for BT, but the first 20 are the ones I most fondly remember.

I am on Facebook and am happy for my e-mail to be provided if anyone wishes to get in touch with me.

Best regards, Paul.  

Contact -kpgallon@hotmail.co.uk

Posted  17th May 2016                                        

JOHNNY BOWERS.

· John Bowers 2016.        

John E Bowers

Hi Ernie, It was really great meeting up with you and Alan last night, where did the hours go. I didn't get home until turned 1 am. Both myself and Peter are looking forward to doing it again. Ater starting at the P O at Fordroughlane in 1964 straight from school and being part of the newly formed training school, with 19 other wayward souls such as Pete Buchanan, Terry Guyatt, Bob Earls, Dave Morgan, Ted Timms to mention but a few. I spent 3 yrs as a Y. I .T under the watchful eyes of Bob Cawley, Arthur Yates, Don Franks and John knowles and after a battle and with Charlie Reynolds help I managed to get myself into the Maintenance shop FL4 in 1968 until 1987 wh3n I took E.V.R after nearly 20 happy working years. Spending several years in Sherlock street where I met my old mate Tony Cotter, until it closed and I was left last man standing. And then back to good old Fordroughlane, back to my Family of work colleagues and many good friends such as Sammy Walker, Brian Smith, Bob irwin, Johnny Pick, Roger Spry. Best Friends like Pete Smith ( whom I still see regularly ) Geof Robson, alan Bartlum and many, many more. A big thank you to you all for making my working career at the P.O. a rememberable one. I often reflect on it and think to myself how lucky I was. Sadly when I left in 1987 with ideas of Grandeur about emigrating to Canada, so off i went on my great adventure, but I decided to come home after deliberating the pros and cons. I really didn't like the idea of boiling in the 40+ C summers or freezing in the -60 C winters. On my return to dear old Blighty as some of you will know I turned to my passion for cars and set up with my mate Barry at his garage on Vauxhall trading estate just down the road from Fordroughlane, where I spent several years in blissful hapiness. Then in 1994 I moved to to plastics going to work for a company called Halo, in Water Orton, extruding plastic profiles for widow manufacturing, doing continental 12 hour shifts. They were a killer !!! Then in 1998 Margaret and I decided to start our own wheelchair ambulance business, transporting people with learning difficulties for Father Hudsons of Coleshill. And finally in 2006 I went to work for NWBC as a bus driver, shortly followed by my Margaret as my passenger assistant, doing the same kind of work until we both retired in January 2013. A happy forfillng life, but also now living a happy retirement. I would be happy for anyone to get touch with me, either through Facebook or by email -

( jebowers@hotmail.co.uk ) Cheers Ernie, Be seeing you soon Kind Regards Johnny.

POSTED 2nd August 2016.

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GRAHAM RICHARDS.

Hi Ernie, 

I started work at Fordrough Lane in 1971 as an apprentice in the Training School. After training I worked for several years in FL5 which was located for most of the time on 6th Floor J. Block (lovely views).When FL5 moved into the new H.Block I asked for a change and for the next few years I rattled around the Fordrough Lane site in Planning, Technical Support, Marketing and Test Engineering. By then we were BT Fulcrum and in 1985 I decided to leave.

Over the next 25 years I worked with process control computers, telecoms management software, earth station antennas, X-ray and radiotherapy equipment, electronic scales and RS components catalogue and web site. I found the experience that I had gained at Fordrough Lane in light engineering, electronics and computing was a useful background for all of these.

Where am I now ?  Since 1997 I've lived near Wimborne Minster in Dorset with my partner Pauline. I stopped work in 2014 and I am enjoying the free time, but I may still do some work in the future. I have a narrowboat moored near Reading which I used to live on during the week while working away from home. I'm hoping to bring it up to the Midlands in 2017.

 Regards, Graham Richards.   Email - richards_g@hotmail.com 

Posted - 26th October 2016.

 

    JOHN YOUNG, MEMORIES.

Hi Ernie,

Nice after all this time, nearly 30years, to talk to you all again. Hope you all well and coping in these strange times.

Redundancy was a strange experience a bit of a shock to the system. But that's later in my story so let's wind the clock back to my earliest recollection. This the time the TVs picture fades and swirls, till June 1966.

An advert in the Evening Mail , Are you interested in Telecommunications, apprentiship Post Office  Factories. I wrote a letter, expressing my interest with my details, popped it in the post and Promptly forgot about it!  I was just turned 16,  having left school, I was free no school to go back too, no thought of needing a "job", that was sorted, one application that is plenty said my relaxed brain. Enjoyed the time off, six weeks later, super chilled. A letter came back, (letters sounds a strange concept  in today high tech world.,we had no home phone, we weren't posh.
Attended an interview in a small room in D Block, a few questions and filling a terminal block with screws. I  was shown a bunch of wires, individual wires were selected and asked the colours, a slight stumble I got slate wrong, oops, will I. Fail, the interviewer, nonplused said words etched into my brain.  --" I always get that wrong too"-- phew. 
. A week later offered a job, start 6th September 1966.

As I am  recalling memories,  not writing a book, I will jump to memory high lights.

First day, met another apprentice on bus, John Alcott, we got off at Garrison Lane, we were 15 minutes late on arrival at the time office, " A quarter" said the man Ashe passed us our brass tag, 302 comes to mind, later learning we were logged as 15 minutes  late!  Ray Collins collected us and totally lost were taken to the 6th Floor J Block, that lift was scary.

Two years in the school and one day a week at Garrets Green College.  Time rapidly passed, high spots, called in the office Bob Cawley has 3 of us on the carpet.  We had wired an electronic capacitor incorrectly, quote  " I can understand you two he said to the others, all wired backwards, but you John some right some wrong, did you not see the red colour for +ve".  No I explained what red colour, telling them I was colour blind, I should have been weeded out at interview by the wire test,  Fortunately they had invested time and money in me and I was streamed into mechanical apprenticeship.  The only other glitch was we made a set  square,  I spent hours early with needle files a flat block and engineers blue, finding high places till it wrung flat. It was so flat I was accused of putting it on the surface grinder. I still don't think they believed me.

Third year remembering my colour vision I started as a trainee setter, had a bench next  to Ken Manning  and George Smith. Had a huge tool chest, wow those presses were noisy and the press tools heavy. I was not a sheltered child, just that my Dad never swore at home, I learnt a lot of $*+%%#} words in double quick time, but what was most shocking  was the ladies swore worse than the blokes. Foreman was Ernie Farley good bloke, I think Ken Manning was assistant by then. Mr Farley retired and awe had a new Foreman,  He looked a tough cookie an I was nervous. I had to go see him and asked what his name was. I was told his name was Smelt . Stan "Smelt". I was sure this was a trick no it was long wait and a spirit level bubble , trepidation, buckets of sweat.  Overthinking or what. Lol.

Time  passed training done,  college done, occasional acted as a sub. For the AFF ( Assistant Factory Foreman" Controlling the work flow and manual time cards for piece work. Then next milestone was sent work in Metrology Labs, transferred to FDI, worked with Frank Pickering and Alan Parks. Our AFF a huge chap, (anyone help with a name) has a habit of having a sleep at lunch time, we all stayed extremely quite as we got back  to work, he won because he got in the extra zzzz's. The other added excitement  was arguing with Stan Smelt that  the first offs were wrong, wow that was tough.
A similar theme followed, as I was put out on the shop floor as an inspector clearing samples in several departments, Harold Colley, Stan Trevethick  Dennis Lane and others loved to argue sorry discuss/ debate rejections into passes. Strange how you choose a sample of 1 out of twenty and find the only dry joint. Lol. I  was inspection on the coin box mechanisms on 5th J Block,  it was mini flow system, a strong Memory was Bob? And his crew burst into spontaneous song " Ghost Riders in the sky." as they drummed loudly with screw drivers and  tools on service available. Fantastic sound.

Not sure of the order, promotion followed worked in FDI 4th Floor J Block,  with Bob Haywood , Dennis Keight Harold King. Also a spell  at Garrison Lane still In FDI  covering Rack Shop.
With  Bill  Price ( lost to a Stroke), John Holden in Pi,  Dennis  Lane again .
Again this could have been earlier or later was manager in FL4 Maintenance, with John E Bowers, Sammy Walker,Brian Smith , Bob Irwin these I remember for some reason, laughs, I wonder why.

Still at Fordrough, a period in planning, and an opportunity thanks to Ossie Williams. with  external Training a new promotion to Safety Officer,   Lots of scares and concerns, keeping people safe or safer. Accident investigations, training and process reviews. Lots of fire alarms and controlled evacuations. PLus the real fire in the PCB flow machine,  helped extinguish the fire and suffered minor smoke inhalation.  Oh and the Earthquake too.
We also lived with a background of terrorism threats, so one time I was called to an unattended briefcase by the Plant Room, a cordon was quickly established, police called, fire service the lot, j block moved to the far side of the building, a flash couple of Geezer turned up, Savile Row suits,  suspected secret service anti terror. portable X-ray m/c  showed  suspect contents.  They simply tied a string to the case handle, moved us round the corner , pulled it sharp , nothing happened, opening the case they found a tea flask and sandwiches.  All clear, later Pete Smith R&D passed and said John Alcott was parked there  and probably forgot his case as normal.

In the background  I became Secretary of SPOE managers Union and along with Ernie as POEU Secretary dealt with ever worsening staff cuts and redundancies. preparing the Factory for Sale!!
It was not a task faced alone, it was comforting to have Ernie Coggins on the same team.
people that come to mind from this desperate time and at times throughout my time in P.O.Factories at BMF , BT Factories, Fulcrum from 1966 to 1990 are in no time or preference order, just as they pop into my head, please excuse anyone who feels I should remember them and are missed. Lots have been mentioned, these are more. some I know we have lost but were important to me:-
 

Melvin Plant(transferred to Cymcarn) Alan Bartlam  who nearly dropped me off the back of his motor bike during a lift home , as his clutch was gone and we wheelied up the road me hanging on my feet up higher than Alan's head. Ken Sims, Ron Shields,Don Cotterill, Ron Jackson, AlanKimberly, Clem Fields, Harold Green Laurie Rumens, Sheila Stansbie, Norman Hands, Brian Chin,  Paul Edwards, Don Franks, Les Auld, Tony Cotten, Ray Maul,  Terry Yates, Roy Swancutt,  Ted Timms,  Dave Morgan. Dave  Tew,  Barry Hughes, Ray Meers, George Williams. Norman (magic hammer ) Hands, Paul Hands Norman Guest, Ken Govier,  Johm Bennett, Pete Bailey, Mike Smith, Irene  Afford . Pat Whitehouse, Pete Buchanan , Mick Tennant,  Tony Rose, Ken Nock, John Harrodine,

Sorry for the disjointed memories, but that's how my head is, I was  tested for dementia  but only ticked  two of the three boxes needed, So not officially have a problem,  it personally occasionally have forgetful episodes. Things will be out of sequence and people forgotten,

Hope all are still with us are well, please stay safe.

All best regards, John. - Email -  longgeezer@yahoo.co.uk

Posted - 28th July 2020.