Author Topic: Apprentice outings and misdemeanours  (Read 703 times)

Mutant Dock Rat

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Apprentice outings and misdemeanours
« on: July 27, 2014, 11:27:58 am »
Penarth Dock Engineering had about thirty apprentices at any one time spread over the works at Penarth and Barry. There were usually about ten in the apprentice school at Penarth for their first year of training. During my first year there we went on a trip to see Concorde 002 at the Filton (Bristol) works only one week before the first Concorde 001 flew its test flight at Toulouse in France. We were all allowed to view work inside the fuselage and the technicians were installing mile upon mile of wiring. I was impressed by the tubing on the underside of the wings which was used to move the fuel around to get the correct attitude of the plane during take-off and landing. Then of course the drop nose; which apprentice had the biggest nose! I think I was close to being the biggest but not quite.

On another occasion we went to Baglan Bay power station near Swansea and had a conducted tour which was interesting but on a hot day it was a bit warm near those furnaces. So we went up onto the roof (unsupervised) to sunbathe. A fight broke out as normal, but the edge of the buildings weren't guarded. No one fell off but they must have been close.

I think it was on the same trip that we had a tour of the Smith's Industries factory somewhere near Swansea. They made clocks and watches there and we had to walk around in white coats and wear a type of bonnet over our heads in the assembly area. The operatives sat behind glass screens and assembled the watches using an illuminated magnifying glass and tweezers in the dust controlled environment. We were given a demonstration of the final assembly of one watch by a very attractive young lady. Springs, wheels and levers were installed in sequence and with great dexterity and she received a round of applause for her work. The party moved forward except for three or four of us. I was fascinated and watched again as she assembled another watch. Just as the final component was being fitted, one of our number, who shall remain nameless, banged the partition hard with his fist. Springs, wheels and levers flew through the air and the young lady taught us some words we hadn't heard before!

On the return journey another fight broke out on the standard Western Welsh red bus while we were travelling down "the tumble", which a notoriously steep hill on the A48 just outside Cardiff. One of the apprentices was hurled against a window near the rear of the bus. The glass and rubber seal of the window disappeared into the road. Suddenly, there was a draft coming from somewhere and everyone was seated, talking away to their mates, by the time Ted Smith, the apprentice instructor sitting at the front of the bus, looked around bemused by the draft.

When we got back to the works the driver noticed the window was missing and began to rant at us. We complained that it had been like that since we left Swansea. We thought he knew about it. Anyway he should have been more careful; itís disgusting that they send out a bus in a defective condition. Someone could have been hurt and Mr. Smith was going to write to Western Welsh to make an official complaint. I don't know if he ever did.

He heeeeeee
Happy days

Ratty