PRODUCTIVITY TEAM MEMBER
In early Spring 1961, training commenced for the weapons work study team at the Weapons School of Management, where I met other members of our team. My team leader, Bill Offord, a principal scientific officer, came from the Admiralty Surface Weapons Establishment (ASWE) at Portsdown. He was assisted by an engineer, Colin Selway, an executive officer, Reg Fast and myself.
The course director, Charlie Teague, introduced the team and invited the team leader to outline his objectives and plan to the members present at the start of the course. He felt that most of those present could be meeting members of the team back at their establishments. I was to learn that we would be operating in pairs and my partner in crime would be Reg Fast. We gave each other a look and a nod.
Whilst at our accommodation the night before, we became acquainted with each other's background. It was very important that we were reasonably compatible with each other, for we would be living and working together for the next three years, according to the assignments scheduled.
Going into offices to tell staff how to do their job could be very demanding, requiring both members to support each other where there were staff differences. I returned from the course feeling that I had a leader with whom I could talk and discuss freely all aspects of my task.
I took a liking to Reg Fast, although a clerical type, he was a do-it-yourself man, from what he told me. He hailed from Plymouth originally and was now based at Bath. I would think he was a cautious man and very sincere. He showed me a photo of his wife, Barbara, and his young daughter, Carol, who both looked very charming. Without doubt, a family man, with no interest in pubs.
Harry's behaviour was still causing problems at home. While I had been away, he had carried on about his masters having it in for him and that he would leave school when he was 15 years old in May. Gladys said, "It is about time you had a good talk to him about school. When I tell him to stick at it, he gets abusive. Something must be done soon, for it is making me quite ill." I replied, "This I will do on his return from the canoe club".
Another matter I had to speak to Harry about was concerning a letter I had received from his headmaster, in which it stated Harry had been caught smoking during his French period, outside the cycle shed. He also mentioned that he had confiscated his cigarette case. Smoking at his age, I regarded as trying to experiment with grown-up habits, but missing any lesson to smoke is a much more serious matter. Gladys and I have never physically chastised him, although at times, when he had been abusive, he had earned a smack or two.
Harry arrived back more cheerful than normal and said, "Dad, the canoe club are going to Germany this Summer and I have been asked if I wanted to go, I told them yes, can I Dad?"
I replied; "There are some matters to be sorted out first. You have been caught smoking during a French period, according to the headmaster's letter. You have been worrying your mother, while I have been away, about leaving school. I intend replying to this letter and let him know that this will not happen again. I shall also ask if I can have a psychologist report on your level of intelligence, since you claim that you are not bright enough to be at grammar school."
He responded, "They are getting on to me all the time, so I left the classroom and I really do want to leave school when I am 15."
"I shall discuss this later, but I am happy that you wish to go with the canoe club to Berlin. You will have to apply for a passport should this holiday be confirmed and I am glad you are getting involved with its activities."
I received a letter from the headmaster agreeing for Harry to see a psychologist and Harry agreed to stay on for his ordinary levels. He saw a Mr J McGibbon, the school's education psychologist on the 21st March, who told him that he did have a level of intelligence to justify his grammar school education.
About this time my training for the work study team was taken over by industrial consultants, who placed me with constructors John Brown Ltd, Paddington, London. This company had large contracts with Russia for chemical distilleries, which had received publicity in the press because it had leaked out that there were no drawings of the overall assembly. Assembly information had been obtained from photographs taken from drawing office models of the installation, with prime dimensions super-imposed on the photographs. Many valuable draughtsman hours had been saved using this technique. My exercise with this company was to learn whether this elimination of drawings could be applied to Admiralty engineering projects.
During dinner-time breaks, I would get lost wandering around without a street map and avoiding shops. It was on one of these wanderings that I came upon, to me, the largest Aladdin's cave in the world, the Wallace Collection in Manchester Square.
This massive collection of art work was assembled by one family, the Marquis of Hertford and when Lady Wallace, the widow, died in 1897, the last surviving member of the Wallace family, she donated these works of art to the nation. It was considered the greatest gift to any nation up to that time. Amongst the collection of paintings were works by Reubens, Van Dyke, Rembrandt, Frans Hals, whose 'Laughing Cavalier' painting was there. This huge cave contained priceless French clocks, oriental armoury, sculpture, jewellery, earthenware, porcelain and glassware of all kinds. One condition of this gift was than no item may be removed nor may any item be added. Most dinner breaks I could be found gazing a master paintings, such as the 'Rainbow Landscape' by Reubens.
One evening when I returned from London, Gladys said, "Harry said he is not going to school any more, he has found a job as a trainee draughtsman somewhere in Sunbury".
I thought a little while before replying; "I cannot see any useful purpose in forcing him to stay at school against his wishes, he has made it clear he is not of the academic type. Let us pray that he makes a success of the job he has managed to obtain, all credit to him for getting this job on his own." Gladys was continually stressed having Harry so unhappy and unsettled, as I was.
Harry was at the canoe club when told of this news. Later, Harry told me what he had done, in spite of the school psychologist's recommendation that he should stay on to take his ordinary level examinations. What could I say, other than wish him well? Had I too not left school without a single certificate?
I had some good news from Andrew, who told me he had joined the choir at St John's Church, Hampton Wick, with one or two boys from his school, in response to a request that the school had received from the local church.
During the winter months I had been attending a referees' course and became qualified, passing their examination in May, which included a simple colour test. When I had applied to the Post Office, who were then responsible for telephone services, for a job prior to leaving school, I failed their colour test, confirming that I was colour blind with regard to the greens, the browns and the pinks and I have known that I have had blue mixed up with another colour. My snooker sport, was not surprisingly, of a short duration. I was now a Lonsar referee, level three, and qualified to take charge of league football matches at the lowest level in the London area. My test in this field was still to come in the following football season!
Whilst in the middle of my training period with John Brown, learning how to eliminate the need for large installation drawings, Harry packed up his job after a matter of a few weeks. This was another disappointment for both his mother and me. Gladys said, "He just refused to go to work, saying they are all getting on to him and giving him the worst jobs in the workshop. I told him you would be very upset when you came home and learned about this." I went into his bedroom, and asked him, "Why have you finished the job so soon?"
"Dad, it was a nightmare, it was a con. I never worked in the drawing office, I was used as a labourer. Can I go back to school?" he pleaded.
"Why not? Provided the education authorities agree. Leave it to me, I will get in touch with them. If you are accepted, I shall expect you to get down to your studies." In stating this, I thought this experience might turn out to be useful in teaching the need to get qualifications to obtain interesting work.
After getting in touch with the educational people, a place would be held for him at the start of the Autumn term at Orleans County Secondary Mixed School, Twickenham. When I received this letter, his passport was also delivered, which allowed him to travel with his canoe club to Berlin at the end of July, God be with us.
I attended St John's Church on Sunday mornings, and enjoyed walking with Andrew to Hampton Wick, along Broom Road and Lower Teddington Road, with very little traffic to spoil the rural atmosphere of this route. With my allotment opposite the church, I was able to pull a few weeds out, and pick some Esther Reads, white daisy flowers, before walking home after the service.
At the end of our training period with the industrial consultants, which included a period with the Post Office at Crawley, Mr Offord, our team leader, called a meeting. This was to agree on our method of carrying out studies in the light of industrial training with the consultants.
Each member had different assignments. Reg, my partner was with the Railway Board, studying the Beeching Report, to decide what railway lines to chop in the report recommendations. The other team members narrated their work study experiences, adding mine, namely, the elimination of large installation drawings and the use of two tier counters in Post Offices. By the end of the day, an agreed procedure would be adopted for all offices to be studied, which would be put to the management and staff side union representatives and would contain recommendations, with related savings anticipated.
I was impressed with our team leader and felt that my partner, Reg Fast, would make a good partnership with me. I was not so impressed with the engineer, on personality grounds, he seemed to have very fixed views, while his partner, Dennis Fryer, senior draughtsman, seemed a genial, negotiable type. Our boss then invited us to a local pub to have a drink on him and to toast a successful productivity assignment.
Harry's departure to Berlin was imminent, which was evident by the list of items and money he was still hurrying to get together. On the 29th July, the family waved the coach taking the canoeists goodbye, as they left on their long journey to Berlin. All their sailing equipment would be provided by their hosts, Spandau Canoe Club.
When they arrived at Dover and sailed to Ostend, the rest of the journey to Hanover, according to Harry, was on a grimy trans-continental train, which changed engines six times between Belgium and Hanover. The trip was completed by coach and again, Harry wrote, there was an hour's delay at the Russian controlled border. Here is the rest of the article he wrote for the Orleans School magazine when he returned:-
Our trip was arranged between British and German canoe clubs. We arrived at the Spandau Canoe Club at 4 o'clock on Sunday morning. The same afternoon, the whole party boarded two-seater Canadian canoes and we raced each other down the Havel Lake.
On our second outing, we ran into a slight accident. When we were navigating close to a large, moored ocean-going yacht, it suddenly swung round and hit us on the bows, sustaining a few scratches to the paintwork. Everything was under control, except that the captain of the yacht, who was rowing ashore, happened to spot us, so we paddled at full speed in the opposite direction. Later on, we got bored with paddling, so we deliberately capsized the boats in shallow water to create a diversion.
We saw much of West Berlin during our stay, and were able to cross to the East. We were conducted around the new Spandau Town Hall and met the Bürgermeister, who told us that his town was the only prison which was guarded by all the three powers in turn. The same night, we were able to see ourselves televised on Berlin News for ten seconds.
The climax of our stay was the tour of Berlin. The Russian sector was the most interesting and depressing. Here was what had been the centre of Berlin; all that remained were bombed-out places, churches and mansions. The streets were lined with notice-boards, plastered with propaganda and the people were shabbily dressed. There were academics for small children, who learned the communist doctrine and the shops were all state-controlled. There is one street of note, as far as we could see, the 'Stalin Allee' which has a large block of flats in the Russian style, with shops on the street level. What a contrast to lively West Berlin, which is a shiny, modern city of new, high office blocks and comfortable flats and houses.
We had many other enjoyable visits to other canoe clubs, and a boat trip over the lakes of Berlin by steamer. We made our return journey home with many souvenirs, including various German signposts, which it had become the fashion to collect!
Berlin still remains in danger, and with it, the world.
Harry Rayment, 5T.
NB: It must be difficult, even for the Russians, to keep abreast of political changes in their country. For 'Stalin Allee' please read, 'Karl Marx Allee'.
From the 1962 edition of Orleans Secondary School Magazine.
NB: Harry failed to mention in his article the sealing off of the Soviet sector of Berlin from the west side, which took place while he was there. He saw them constructing the infamous Berlin Wall. This was built to stop the hordes of east Berliners escaping to the western sector, many of whom had been shot in the attempt.
Our first work study challenge, set for us by our team leader, was the Chief Inspector of Naval Ordinance (CINO) drawing office at Ensleigh, Bath. This was very convenient for Reg, who lived there, but not so for me and would require me to get digs from Monday to Friday while working there. I seemed to be on the trail of the Romans again, be it 2,000 years later.
On the first morning at Ensleigh, we were introduced to the secretary of the Director General, Weapons, in front of the Head of CINO. The secretary, Mr Driffield, stressed the importance of our study to the head of the drawing office, Mr Enna. After formalities were over, our team leader introduced us to Mr Enna in his office, who produced a resumé of their work, staff and facilities to enable us to do their study. He thought their union representative would like a talk with us after we had finished.
Our first exercise, we told him, was to obtain a record of each man's work activity. This required a pre-printed sheet for each draughtsman to fill in his work content using a standard list of codes to identify the activity, ie, drawing work, new, coded 'DN'. Once it had been confirmed that the codes covered all aspects of their work, it was left to Mr Enna to instruct his staff to fill it in daily, for a week. It was explained that after analysing their returns, I would wish to go round to each person at their workplace to discuss all aspects of their duties.
We had to make sure that we were there to remove any wasted effort and to enhance their work module equipment. Mr Enna did assure us that advance notice of this productivity team had been passed on to all staff and that this was a Director General, Weapons assignment. Walking through the drawing office, we could not help noticing side glances being given by the draughtsmen, no doubt, wondering what kind of KGB person was going to investigate their work habitat.
After the three of us had sorted ourselves out in the office provided for us, our team leader suggested we retired to some local pub of Reg's choosing, where we could talk more freely. He chose a pub opposite the Empire Hotel, which was where he had worked, in the Personnel Department. The hotel had been taken over by the Admiralty. He said that he recognised several of the staff in the drawing office.
Returning to CINO, our next task was to meet the staff side representative, who needed reassuring that our aim was not to reduce staff, but to make them more effective. I do not think he trusted that all our objectives were above- board, one false move and we could have had a strike on our hands. However, as it turned out, we soon became accepted and the staff spoke freely as we discussed their task at each work place.
Reg and I began to realise that their work place could be improved with a vertical side reference board. There was also a need for chairs to be adjustable to suit each individual's ergonomic requirements. We were now able to be put to the test. Design a work-place unit, which would cater for all aspects of the draughtsman's basic requirements, such as the storage of drawings, standard reference books and drawing materials, together with a vertical reference. We produced a design for a desk, which combined all these features, and had this made at Admiralty Stores, Coventry, where Reg had contacts. This was made and delivered to our office. We asked Mr Enna over to inspect it and have it installed in his office, to be tried out by a draughtsman, whose views would be welcomed. This, he would have ready by next Monday morning.
When I arrived back after my weekend at home, around 10am, I saw Reg at the gates with a very worried look. As I got out of my car, to show my pass to the security guard, Reg came across to me. Quietly, he said, "Alan, we've got a strike on our hands. You know the draughtsman that always draws standing up, well Mr Enna has given it to him. He refuses to use it, and that's not all, his section leader supports him."
I replied, "That's not fair, he should support management, being a section leader. Never mind, win this one and we win the lot." Putting a brave face on the situation. Of course, this was a serious set-back to our first contribution to this study.
We went straight over to Mr Enna's office to find out the details. He merely told us that; "Mr Rose is unable to stand up while making use of our unit, which he would have to use if it became standard."
I then asked him, "What about the section leader, who is supporting him, so I am told?"
He replied, "You had better go out and speak to them." We went across to the section leader, to obtain his position with regard to supporting his draughts- man's refusal to use our unit. He said, "You cannot make him sit down if he prefers to stand to draw."
I hastily replied, "Our job is to make life easier, so that at the end of the day individuals are less fatigued and working more effectively. Your job should be to support management in this matter." Now it was going to be a Waterloo battle to persuade our reluctant draughtsman to change his mind. I felt like a Stanley Holloway character, who said to his sentry, "Sam, Sam, pick up your musket!"
I addressed Mr Rose and said "I understand you object to trying out our prototype, which has been designed to make your life easier for you, when drawing. All we ask is that you use the unit and give us your honest opinion afterwards."
To our surprise, he smiled and replied, "Alright, I will give it a go!"
I too, smiling, replied, "Thank you, we will come back in a week's time, and will be pleased to receive your comments."
This being our first effort to improve working conditions, to ultimately increase productivity, our credibility was at stake. During the week, we had our ears to the ground, hoping to hear that our Mr Rose was still using our prototype unit. Mr Enna sent for us on the Friday morning, with Mr Rose in his office, again smiling. The first words spoken by Mr Enna were, "Mr Rose would like to keep his unit." That was our breakthrough. This unit became accepted by all the drawing offices we were later to study.
Since Harry's trip with his canoe club to Berlin, he had been more talkative and he had not made complaints against his new school, Orleans. Hopefully he would now settle down and work hard for his GCE's that he would take early next year.
The open plot of land opposite our house was due to be developed by the Council as housing estate, the land adjoining the residence of Joe Mear, chairman of Chelsea Football Club. He later hit the headlines in the national press, for losing the Football Association Cup. When the estate was built, the entrance road would be opposite our house, making a hazard when driving on and off the hard in the front garden. This would also generate more traffic, adding to the increased traffic, caused by new estates being built, replacing large houses that have been demolished along Lower Teddington Road.
Andrew, now 8 years old, was always seen with a smile. There had been no adverse reports from his school. I kept wondering how long it would be before this happy smile disappeared, hoping of course, that this would never happen. With Andrew in the church choir, I attended the Sunday morning services as often as possible. At Christmas time, I enjoyed the Church's messages and the carols which the choir let loose on. The candle-lit service was well attended. I had a feeling that I would become involved with St John's activities, having already been asked to do sidesman's duties.
I had managed to restrict my refereeing to one game a month. In the matches where the large hospital teams were involved, I got nasty looks for blowing the whistle and holding up the game, they preferred to play it hard, like their rugby.
Returning to Bath after a short break at the start of the new year, we checked lighting levels at the drawing surface, and found them, in most cases, below the recommended level. There was now a definite feeling that we had been accepted by the staff at CINO, by the fact that we were invited to their annual dinner.
I found this beautiful city growing on me. I think this was a combination of the Bath sandstone brick faced buildings, that gave, and still do give, character and warmth of the Bathonians. Not surprisingly, the Romans chose Bath as their most fashionable Spa, since they also discovered the medicinal qualities of the local water. Beau Brummell, fashion leader and friend of the Prince Regent, became Bath's tourist agency, promoting Bath for top society in the mid-18th century.
There were other features that Bath was almost unique in having, shops built on Poulteney Bridge, which spanned the River Avon and also Georgian crescents.
It is to the credit of the Bath city fathers that they have managed to preserve the character associated with Bath. No building may be erected without being faced with Bath stone, nor may the Royal Crescent be painted willy nilly, each dwelling must conform to a prescribed colour scheme.
To the south, and to a lesser degree to the west, the ground rises and shelters the city from the prevailing winds. Not surprisingly, I had decided to retire here, if agreed by Gladys, as so many of the officer class of the uniformed services do. I was then in my early forties, a bit premature to be putting my name down on a waiting list for new houses to be erected on the rise behind the station.
Reg and Barbara were true Bathonians, although Reg hailed from Plymouth and spoke with a strong Devon accent. When I first arrived, they lived in the Crescent, moving a short while after to another dwelling, again for a short stay, where he made a model of our proposed work-place module. They finally settled in a new bungalow on the south side of the city, at a place called Entry Hill. This had a view overlooking Entry Vale, with an odd house here and there on the other side of the Valley, which, when lit up at night, reminded you that there were other people on the Bath planet.
From time to time I was able to assist in his do-it-yourself tasks, such as building his front stone wall and a large patio, where we sat outside on many occasions. All this happened when I became their guest for the rest of the study. I got to know Barbara well, and realised that she liked to fly her wings on various assignments, such as selling houses. She was ideal for this type of work, being much extrovert.
This was the period of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, with Matt Monroe being our favourite pop singer. His song, 'Softly as I leave you' became the top tune, with this being played in my car, and at 'Bali Hai', their residence.
This do-it-yourself work of Reg's started to rub off onto me. Not playing sport at the weekend, I decided to bring a bit of Bath home, and face the living room fireplace with Bath sandstone bricks. I loaded my Beetle car up with these bricks, to a dangerous level, and I know Reg had doubts as to whether he would have me back again to finish all the studies. Thankfully, I arrived home safely, with all my precious Bath stone, to be the centre point of the living room.
This home improvement was the start of many more to follow, with the knocking down of the dividing wall between the living room and front room being my ultimate task, after the completion of the work study travellings. I ordered a girder, to act as a lintel over the planned opening on the dividing wall. Each time I passed it, I began to hate it more and more. In truth, I was scared of this do-it- yourself job in case I made a mess of it and the house fell in! I had been told to put the girder in before making the hole in the wall. But how would you get the girder in the wall, without making an elongated hole first? Surely this is a classic case of a 'chicken and egg' poser?
Reg and I were scheduled to start our study at the Admiralty Underwater Weapons Establishment, (AUWE), Portland Bill, during March 1962. The study took the same form as that at CINO, Bath. Reg and I, with the team leader met the head of engineering, Mr Kirkby, and the drawing office manager, Mr Bowie. Once he had outlined our programme to the management, and had been allocated our accommodation, we met the staff side representative, Doug Smith.
There were a number of draughtsmen who I recognised, that were formerly at AGE, Teddington. Harry Peck, who was their chief draughtsman had retired and had now become bar steward at AUWE, so I was told. What a fine way of keeping in touch with your ex-colleagues! It is not often that one sees a large establishment in the early embryo stage, taking shape, as I did at ARL Teddington. I am told that the divorcing of the gunnery section from ARL was to move it to the firing range at Portland Bill. Before their move took place, guns were replaced by missiles. Once at Portland, the role of the establishment changed to underwater weapons establishment and the name became Admiralty Underwater Weapons Establishment. It was said that no one wanted the firing range. So, here was a large research and development establishment on the edge of Portland Bill, remote from the main rail and road transport with Weymouth being their nearest town, separated by a causeway subject to being closed during severe weather.
My last sight of this, 30 years later, was watching the auctioneers disposing of heavy engineering equipment at the nod of a head. It was sad to see staff being made redundant, many of whom had bought houses locally, to be close to their work that they were now unable to sell. 'For Sale' notices on nearly every other house told this story.
Reg had a connection at Weymouth, with his sister-in-law living there, who had an acquaintance called Margaret who had accommodation available for us. This was a bonus, as it turned out, for we had the free run of the house and garden which overlooked Weymouth Bay. Margaret believed that a man should have a man-sized breakfast to start a day's work.
During our stay, Reg, with me assisting him, constructed a summer house with bunks and lighting. This was to enable Margaret to cater for over-flow visitors during the summer holiday periods. I felt Reg's creative talent could have been used in an architectural occupation.
On my return home on the Friday, Gladys handed me the first school report on Harry's progress. She knew that I was hoping for favourable comments. By the look on her face, I knew it was not a bad report, so I kind of relaxed as I started to read it. He had achieved an A in English, and a B+ in Art, which I considered to be the highest rating he had ever achieved. Could this be the effects of his canoeing interest? I pondered. I told Harry that he had done well, in view that his schooling had been interrupted and reminded him that the report stated that a real effort must be made to achieve successful results in the forthcoming examinations.
That Whitsun, we took the boys to Wolverhampton, Andrew had yet to meet his relatives. They included his grandparents on Gladys' side, as well as other members of her family.
Auntie Edna, the next eldest daughter, had married Tony Cave, following a blind date in 1947, he had been a Guardsman. His proudest moment in the armed services was taking part in the Trooping of the Colour ceremony. They had three children, Rosemary aged 13, Brian aged 10 and Derek aged 4. Edna was the one who I had cycled to work with while at Ever Ready, and who later joined the ATS.
Brenda, the third eldest daughter, had married John Gooderidge in 1959, he was involved with the local lock trade.
Joan, the auntie with the dimple in her chin and the 4th eldest, married Michael Darby. They met at a teacher training college. At their marriage, were his parents, who had changed their partner with another couple, who were both present! They had two children, Wendy aged 3 and Robert aged 1.
Edgar, the eldest son, married Iris Stevens, a dancing teacher in 1940. They had Shirley aged 8, David aged 4, all living in Birmingham.
The next eldest son, Eric, had he lived, would have been 28. Sadly, he had been killed when he received a blow to his head from a cricket ball.
The youngest son, Alan, who emigrated to Australia in his youth, married Edna Taylor. They had three 'Aussies', Wendy, aged 16, Gail aged 12, and Robert aged 7.
On my side of the family tree, I could only muster up my sister, Edith, her husband the grocer, and David their only son. They lived in Davyhulme, Manchester.
On the day of our flying visit to Gladys' parents, there was a ground mist, making driving very precarious. This was our first car trip using the M1 motorway, which opened in 1959. It was unusual not to be changing gears, having no roundabouts and no traffic lights to slow down for. I kept to the centre lane, travelling around 40 to 50 miles an hour and maintained a safe distance behind the car in front. I left the M1 at the A45 junction, and I forgot that I should lower my speed in case suddenly, in this mist, I encountered traffic lights or other slowing down obstacles.
After 10 minutes or so, out of the mist, a large tubular structure appeared in front of me. There was only one thing I could do, brake and hopefully steer the car off the road. I crashed into a roundabout, with the driver's side hitting the kerb broadside on. The impact, miraculously, caused the car to lift vertically a few feet, like a helicopter, and land on the island with wheels straddled across the bent tubular posts. We were all silent, shaken with shock, not fully knowing what had taken place.
I was able to get out of the car to examine it. It seems our guardian angel foresaw my stupid driving and arranged for another vehicle in advance of me to crash into this structure and cause it to lean backwards. The large 'arrow sign' plate the structure was supporting had been destroyed. Fortunately, the car was not damaged and we were able to complete our journey, thanks to the One above.
When starting off, Gladys said, "We do want to be alive when we get there." I did a grin and merely said, "Point taken."
Staying at Gladys' parents, we noticed her mother, Elsie, a thin grey-haired lady, was very frail and very anxious to make us welcome. Her father, a retired handicraft teacher, made sure that we inspected the greenhouse that he had built recently. During our brief stay, we managed to visit Edna's and Brenda's families, we also visited Dudley Zoo, where the boys were seeing live wild animals for their first time, such as elephants and lions. I think it was the monkeys that stole the show, with Andrew saying something about fleas! Great care was taken when driving home.
Before returning to Weymouth, to continue our study at AUWE, Portland, Reg and I visited the office methods department, Whitehall. Analysing the activities sheets filled in by the draughtsmen at the start of each study was found to be a tedious, time-consuming exercise. At Whitehall, we were supplied with an adding-machine, quite a luxury for this period of the early 1960's. The visit was useful, in that we found Mr Prince helpful and willing to give further assistance in this direction, should we require it.
Getting back to Portland during the summer months was quite pleasant. Each day, we were rewarded on our return to the digs with a view of Chesil Beach, as we descended down Fortunes Well onto the causeway.
After our evening meal that Margaret always had ready, it was working on the summer house for the rest of the evening. Occasionally, a man friend of Margaret would keep us company. His name was Cyril, who became very useful in obtaining cable to wire up the hut for lighting purposes. He just said, he could put his hands on some cable which would reach the hut 60 yards or more down the garden.
This had been a fine summer so far, which meant our project was enjoyable, working outside in the fresh air by Weymouth Bay. This assignment took us to the middle of July, when the team met Mr Offord to prepare his report for AUWE management. After taking summer leave, our next location would be Chatham Dockyard.
We received a further school report on Harry's work, which again indicated his strong subjects as English and Art. It was disappointing to read the general remark - 'Fair progress only'. Almost at the same time as we received this report, a letter was received addressed to Harry from his canoe club's secretary. It contained a number of complaints, with a threat not to have him remain in the club, if he failed to correct his behaviour. He had still to sit for his school certificates, so I did not seek to find out what had happened with his canoeing activities.
Harry, before leaving school, did sit for his examinations and obtained GCE's in English Language, General Science and Art. Much to his mother's surprise and mine, Harry obtained employment in the planning department of the Middlesex County Council, Guildhall, Westminster. We did not know how he obtained this job, but he did tell us that he was in the filing section. Arriving home after travelling each night from London by train, he would complain about the journey, and withdraw to his bedroom once he had eaten his meal. We assumed he was tired out.
During the boys' summer holidays, I took annual leave, hoping to relieve Gladys of the load she had been left with, from time to time recently, by keeping them occupied. Andrew had inherited Harry's canoe he made from a kit, and stored it at my allotment, Hampton Wick, close by to where he launched it in the River Thames, by Kingston Bridge. He was able to swim and I was satisfied he would be safe and not do anything to endanger his life. Usually, he would only do this when I was close by at the allotment, and could go down to the river to watch him.
His school reports had been average, with Maths always his strong subject and having 'good' for general attitude. Maths was also my strong subject and when I tried to teach him, he knew it already! In this case, the term 'he knows it all, so he thinks', applies.
I had also planned to take the family to the Kensington Museums, on a fine day. When not fine, I intended to restyle the fireplace, using the Bath stone bricks I had brought back from Bath. I knew Reg would be staying with us when doing our productivity stint at ARL Teddington. I wanted him to feel at home, with a little bit of Bath near him. I had not attempted bricklaying before, and when starting work on laying the bricks, I had difficulty in getting the pointing gap even between the bricks. I had watched one or two bricklayers recently, and all they did was to put mortar on the lower brick, put the other brick on top, tap it, and there you are. All level, with an even gap. For me, this did not work and finally, I had to use wood spacers.
That was the least of my problems. Watching the bricky, all you have to do is strike the brick with the edge of your mortar trowel, where you want the gap reduced.
For me, this did not work, no matter how hard I struck the Bath stone brick. I tried sawing them, and to my surprise, the soft stone allowed the saw to do its work, even though I blunted the teeth in the process. With the mortar ready mix I bought for this job, I also obtained a black dyeing agent, which made a contrast to the Bath stone bricks. I was told about this agent from a workman, now working on the new council estate opposite. There were a mixture of houses being erected, some were single storey, others were either 2 or 3 storeys. To complete this project, the mantelpiece was replaced with a wider polished mahogany piece of wood. This being one of my do-it-yourself jobs out of the way, it should have given me more confidence to tackle the dividing wall demolition task awaiting me. The reverse was the case.
When a fine day came, I was glad to get away from the task in hand and visit the museums. Gladys had made her mind up to see the Victoria and Albert, whilst we, that is, the boys and myself, visited the Natural History. Going by car, I followed the route I took to go to Kensington Park some time ago. Turning right at Exhibition Road, we managed to park the car before reaching Cromwell Road. Going separate ways, it was agreed to meet three hours later at the car.
Being holidays, there were long queues at the Natural History Museum, and I assumed it would be the case at the Victoria and Albert. All of us stood in amazement when we first saw the huge dinosaur skeleton in the hall set aside for this one display. We learned that behind the fossils of all creatures, large and small, there are a large number of natural history scientists at work.
It was a relief to see Gladys coming towards the car. When she reached us, she said, "I have just seen some jewellery that you can buy me for my next birthday, to go with my dancing dress."
I replied, "If it was not so late, I would be happy to do so, but now the boys are hungry." We made our way to Kensington Park, where we had a picnic lunch. Gladys, in the car on the way home, said, "The next time we go to the Victoria and Albert, see we start off earlier." I kept my eyes on the road.
With the acceptance of our study findings at AUWE, Portland, submitted by Mr Offord, the team reassembled during early September at Chatham Dockyard drawing office. Once their management had received us and had obtained our work programme, we retired to the office set aside for us. Mr Offord pointed out that the chief constructor, Mr Harry, who we had just met, was the main initiator of the Admiralty drawing office team, to study drawing methods and office procedures. He had an informal talk with Mr Howard, prior to our meeting and had given him a resumé of our progress to date. Our team leader mentioned that both AUWE and CINO had similar deficiencies and that the team's workplace module had been recommended.
We later had a short session with their union representative and made arrangements to see the head of the drawing office, the following morning. Mr Offord returned home that night, having launched our third study without a hitch.
Now we were left to locate our accommodation that had been booked for us at The Broadway Guest House, New Road, Rochester. This address was on the main road to Dover and on an incline. We found, to our dismay, that there was continuous traffic through the night, having been allocated a front bedroom. What made matters worse, the digs were at a spot where vehicles changed gear and then revved up to go up the incline. Very little sleep was obtained while on this assignment, which fortunately, was a relatively short exercise, our study took the same format as the other two and making similar recommendations.
Early in October, we were scheduled to study the largest drawing office on our list, Admiralty Surface Weapons Establishment, ASWE, Portsdown, Portsmouth. We should be off to a good start here, being our team leader's original establishment and home ground. We had digs at a Mrs Burnside, Festing Grove, Southsea, close to the seafront.
There were approaching 200 draughtsmen, the bulk being employed in the main building, while others were in satellite offices, scattered amongst the conglomeration of separate buildings, stretching a distance close to a quarter of a mile. Their drawing manager, Mr Lambert, was supported by a chief draughtsman, Frank Dore, who gave full co-operation, as did their union representative, Arthur Hackney.
We were informed by the management that the research groups preferred to have draughtsmen located within the building where they worked. The objections to this, claimed Messrs Lambert and Dore, was that the groups would create additional work, just to retain the person within the group. For the team to make a recommendation on this philosophy would require a great deal of time requiring the team to interview each draughtsman, once the activity sheets had been analysed.
This did, in fact, take the best part of six months, taking us into late Spring 1963. We noticed there was a good morale here amongst the staff. We were invited to their annual Christmas dance, held on Clarence Pier each year, which was always supported by the whole staff of ASWE. Another activity that brought the draughtsmen together, was their summer bowling league, playing at the civil service ground, Copnor Road, Portsmouth.
Our accommodation, though adequate, just met an acceptable level for quantity and quality as far as the meals were concerned. Reg once said to me, in their dining room, whilst waiting to be served, "I think they should apply work study in the kitchen." It was a requirement that you stated whether you wanted tea or coffee in advance of the meal.
This winter was one of the most severe on record. There was a frost every day from December 1962 to 5th March 1963. The Canoe Lake had been frozen over most of the winter, and there was ice on Southsea Beach along the sea edge, after the tide had subsided. I had many anxious moments travelling in the Beetle car when driving at weekends between Teddington and Portsdown on icy roads.
Andrew, along with the other choir boys from his church, took part in the musical comedy, 'The King and I' at Twickenham, presented by the players of the local musical society.
Having become a regular Sunday morning worshipper at St John's, I felt that I should help at the church's Christmas Fair. I offered to man the bottle stall, knowing that I had a good crop of shallots from the allotment, which I could pickle and donate to the Fair.
Ted Edwards, who had served throughout the war in the army, a church warden, was keen for me to become a sidesman. I told him I would think about this, after I had finished my travelling stint. I was already tending the small gardens astride the front entrance to the church. This was no real chore, as I had my garden tools across the road in the allotment shed.
The architecture of St John's matched the styling of Hampton Court, which was built in 1831 to serve the relatively small community of the area. Hampton Wick was wedged in on three sides. On the east, less than one hundred yards, the River Thames flows by, separating Kingston from the centre of Hampton Wick. On the south side, leaving the High Street, one has to take a turning either to the left, over the bridge into Kingston, or to the right to Hampton. At this T-junction, is the entrance to Hampton Court Home Park, opposite the High Street. On the west side, one hundred yards away is Bushey Park, which extends to Teddington.
The name of the church was derived from the history of Hampton Wick. Here is an extract from the archives:
"The history of Hampton Wick is very much bound up with that of Hampton itself. In the reign of Edward the Confessor, it was a tithing of Hampton and was held by Earl Algar at a rental of £20 a year, payable to the King. With the Conquest, the land passed to the St Valery's, who built a mansion on the present site of Hampton Court, which passed, together with Hampton Wick, to the Knights Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem, about 150 years later. In the early 1500's, they rented the property to Cardinal Wolsey."
There are further extracts, giving evidence that our fore-fathers stood up to their rights. This refers to a Hampton Wick shoemaker, Timothy Bennett. In 1752, Lord Halifax, the ranger of Bushey Park, closed a footpath leading from the Wick to Hampton Court. With great courage, Bennett protested, and when his protest was ignored, threatened to take proceedings in court to maintain the right of way. The path was reopened. A memorial to Bennett was erected outside the Vicarage gate of Bushey Park in 1900.
I found a community spirit here, which I failed to find at Teddington, mainly based around this church. Quite a number of the congregation, including the Treasurer, Mr Herdman, lived nearby to us. Gladys attended special services, such as the Christmas carol evening. I felt I was being drawn to play an active part in its affairs.
Harry had now sold his canoe through the Exchange and Mart, to an American lady who was staying here for a while with her son, for whom she bought the canoe. This came as no surprise, in view of the letter he received, complaining of his anti-social behaviour at his Eel Pie Island Canoe Club. I never did question him on what had happened to justify this letter, I felt he would have told me if he wanted me to know.
Now alarm bells were ringing, for he had packed up his job at the Guildhall, Westminster, without a hint that he intended to resign from his job. This should not have been a surprise, in view of his adverse comments about the staff he was working with. Gladys was, of course, upset to have him around the house, especially knowing that he had walked out of his job, and not qualifying for unemployment pay. This situation was not to last long, for within a week of leaving his job, he obtained work on the 16th April at Crookes Laboratory Ltd, Park Royal, Acton.
With Harry leaving his Guildhall job so soon, his mother and I were really sure there was a behavioural problem. The school's psychologist, who saw him at the age of 15, made no reference to any defect of this kind. The reverse was rather the case, for he had confirmed that Harry was grammar school material. We started to query if we had any skeletons in the cupboard.
Only one ancestor could be brought to mind who was peculiar. This was Granddad Rayment, according to my Auntie Lou, who was the youngest of ten children. He left Grandma Rayment to manage and work their cottage business, hatters at Luton, while he disappeared for days at a time on his bike. When eating apples or sweets he would take them off her and eat them himself. She hated him, and this explains why my father left home in his youth to work in Manchester.
On returning to Portsdown on the Monday morning, my mind was pre- occupied with my domestic affairs and wondering where we had gone wrong with Harry. Were we not the same parents that had brought up Andrew, who at the age of 10 was still smiling and appeared happy at school? It was a relief during the week to receive a message from Gladys, stating that Harry had started working for Crookes Laboratory in London. She could not say what his job was.
Reg and I, in our studies, were having to deal with draughtsmen located at other sites, where specialised research was being undertaken. One such site was at Funtington, where aerial signals were monitored and lobe patterns obtained. This site had been chosen because there was no other radiation interference in the area. Another site carried out secret work, where staff had to be security cleared at the highest level.
Another group of forty or so draughtsmen were involved with installation and operated on a different floor level to the main drawing office. Their work was controlled by main drawing grades. This was a feature drawn to our attention by the manager of the drawing office. It was a great help to have our team leader contribute to this study, with his knowledge of the establishment.
Many of the staff worked at Whitley, Surrey, before ASWE became into being at Portsdown, to be close to Portsmouth Dockyard, where much of ASWE's work was carried out. This turned out to be useful to our team, for two of the study work place units were made here. These were installed in the main drawing office and were well-received by their users.
The outcome of this study was a recommendation that the workplace module be adopted, that all draughtsmen be located in the main office whenever possible and that, where displaced in large numbers, such as in the installation section, they should be directly controlled by a draughtsman grade.
We returned several times to Portsdown to install our units and clear up any items in the report. Reg and I spent most evenings strolling along the seafront. Unfortunately, the weather was not very kind, there were strong south-westerly winds blowing, keeping the temperature down. It was almost a rare sight to see someone sitting in a deckchair. I told Gladys that it was 10 degrees warmer in Teddington than at Southsea.
During my stay here, I was confirmed in my senior draughtsman grade, this taking place five years from the time when I was made acting senior. It seems that I had been pardoned and restored back onto a career structure.
During the summer leave period, I plucked up the courage to start the do-it- yourself dividing wall opening. I had a special reason to tackle this task, for when I spoke to the foreman working on the council estate opposite, I was promised the loan of equipment. He told me to ensure that the ceilings were supported on either side of this dividing wall before I started to remove bricks. This was indeed, good fortune, for he loaned me both jacks and planks, in which to place the jacks in between.
Gladys, who was always house-proud, nearly had a heart attack when hammering at the bricks to be removed, for plaster and debris flew everywhere. Once the elongated hole had been made, to insert the girder to act as a lintel, the next exercise was to find a way of lifting this girder into place. The weight required two men to raise it. I arranged two step-ladders, to support the ends of the girder in stages. It was not until I reached the top of the 5-feet step ladders, I came to the difficult stage of the lifting operation.
Recruiting Gladys and Andrew to control one end of the girder, resting on the top of the stepladder, I managed to heave the other end onto the load-bearing edge. This was repeated for the other end.
When I exerted myself, I noticed my shoulder was being forced back further and further. A few days later, I had severe pains and I was told by the doctor that I had trapped a nerve and that it would eventually release itself.
It took the whole of my leave to remove the rest of the bricks and to clean the wall ends together, with making good the floor gap. Later, I fitted sliding doors, so that we had a choice of a large lounge or two separate rooms, according to our needs. I am glad to say the house had not fallen in at the time we left, ten years later.
Each night, when Harry returned home from working at Crookes Laboratory, he appeared depressed, refusing to tell us his problems. He finally told us on the 12th July, he had been given the sack because he was unable to do his job in the buying department. In his writings, he mentioned that a girl passed him on the station, when he had glue on his forehead. She thought it disgusting and became hostile. Harry became something of a recluse, spending most of his time in his bedroom. However, before I left to join our new study at Sheffield, he had obtained work at English Clock Systems, Wharfdale, Kings Cross. His ability to obtain new jobs was, I think, because he had a good bearing and spoke good English. I was very much relieved to know he would be out of Gladys' way, when I started the work assignment at Sheffield, early September.
It was arranged that the team, with its leader, meet the management of the Admiralty Gauge and Tool Establishment in the afternoon of the first Monday in September. This formal meeting took place with our leader stating the objectives of the study. It was left to Bill Talluck to show us around and ensure we had suitable accommodation and facilities at their works. Bill Talluck became most helpful and took us to places of interest. He booked our living accommodation at a Mrs Sargent, Briarmead Avenue, Sheffield.
As I drove into this city on my first day, I was most impressed with the land- scaping of modern housing estates with a variety of dwellings, all intermixed; equally impressive was the shopping complex with enclosed precincts. Whilst at Sheffield, there was a symposium being held for the Society of Architects. A helicopter was used to take them to inspect this modernisation of Sheffield's Town Planning. Gone for ever, the image it had with a permanent pall of smoke over the building from the steelworks.
We were shown one of the steel furnaces being tapped with glowing molten metal being poured into large ladles. Bill Talluck also took us to see a 'well dressing' in Tissington, Derbyshire. This was a floral display around the well, as a form of thanksgiving for the water from the well. This was an annual event, going back in time and was thought to be due to a very long drought the villages had, and were saved from dying from thirst, for the wells did not dry up.
Returning via Buxton, Bill was keen to call at the Palace Hotel for a drink. We were amazed when Bill told us that this palatial residence was initially built to accommodate the Duke of Devonshire's overflow of guests at Chatsworth House, a few miles away. This beautiful building overlooked Buxton centre and adjacent to it, was the round domed building of the Devonshire Hospital for rheumatic patients.
We were equally surprised when told that this round shaped edifice was once the Duke's stables and for training his horses. Surely, this display of wealth by one family must have sown seeds of Communism in the past? Perhaps this view we all held was due to the fact that none of us had been born to be the Duke of Devonshire!
The following day, Bill showed us samples of their work. We were particularly impressed with torpedo gauges, used by the Inspectors of Naval Ordnance. These were required to examine the outside diameters of the tubes. I wondered what Bill would have said had he been with me when I saw a box of such gauges which may have come from Sheffield being prepared for auction, thirty years later, at AUWE, Portland. I did not witness any prospective buyer showing any interest in these gauges!
We had very pleasant accommodation and good food. On our last night at our digs, we held council on the study as a whole. This was to be our last study together, for Reg was scheduled to join the other half of our team at Rosyth Dockyard, whilst I visited the Torpedo Experimental Establishment at Glasgow. Normally, the ending of a three-year partnership should have merited a drink of some kind, but Reg, being a home-bird, preferred to stay in.
Reg declared, "Those biggest Yorkshire puddings, served each night, made me wonder where you put it all!"
I responded, "I have a bigger profile than yours to keep up, I expect we are called 'Laurel and Hardy' by the draughtsmen! Will you bring Barbara and yourself to meet Gladys and stay with us when we are back to the normal routine? I note we are to have a get-together with the ship's work study in December at Bath, perhaps you could let me know then? We shall have to produce a summary of our work before then. On the drawing side, do you agree that all offices adopted our work-place unit, the reflex refill pencil, with its lead sharpener and rubber attached to the head of the pencil, and almost all offices needed to improve lighting at the work face? You, of course, Reg will make your summary on documenting and filing systems, which you studied, while I carried out the interviews."
Reg replied, "Yes, I know that Barbara will be pleased to come and stay with you and meet Gladys, as indeed, I will. I agree with your summary and I endorse comments in the various reports, stating there was a need for improved storage equipment and the use of micro-films, where appropriate."
My visit to Scotland involved studying a number of smaller drawing office units at the RN Weapons Equipment, the AHBRE Garelock, belonging to ARL and the Torpedo Experimental Establishment. This latter unit was housed in the former vehicle manufacturer, the Albian.
The facade to this building was most impressive, giving evidence to its former prosperous times. I was told this car company collapsed, due to a cash-flow problem, when introducing a new model.
Whilst on this solo effort, I stayed at Dunvegan Hotel, Queens Drive. Each of these places, I passed on the benefit of the experience we had gained to the local management. It was as if I had hit the high road, whilst Reg had hit the low road, being based at Rosyth only, and ne'er shall we meet in Bonny Scotland.
However, it was to be the gathering of the work study clans at Bath, before we were to go our separate ways for good, after our seminar had been concluded. It would seem that our work place unit was adopted by the ship's work study team to install in the offices they visited. Dennis Fryer, of the ship's team, said, "Alan, when you go back to Teddington, you will find we have landed you a job laying out the ARL office with your workplace module."
I said, "Thank you, Dennis, I will send my consultant's fees to you."
Mr Offord prepared his team's report, as did Tom Priest, for the ship's team. Everyone made some contribution to this final meeting, with some reference to future developments. This concerned the application of computer aided design, which was now being applied in the car industry. It was felt that in ship design, there could be more efficient methods, using the ability of computers to produce curves. The way ahead in this field was highlighted in the final report. This report also drew attention to using computers for data retrieval.
During the whole of this three year stint, I do not remember a dispute with our team leader, Bill Offord, nor do I remember a disagreement with my partner, Reg. I did have some clashes with Colin Selway, a member of the other half of the team.
He told me he could not stick my 'holier than thou' look about me. If that is what he thought my impression gave him, then I did not mind him telling me, it does no harm to be criticised, if it is for one's own good. Apart from that incident, I consider I was lucky to have compatible people to work with. Not only was this an asset, but also the ability for them to gain the confidence of those we had been asked to examine.
After saying our farewells, I returned, with Reg to Bali Hai, where I was staying the night. We went out for an evening meal and saw Bath all decorated for Christmas with fairy lights, setting the shopping centre all aglow.
Barbara told me she was looking forward to visiting Gladys and I next spring. In leaving Bath the following morning, I felt sad in some ways, for it had a quiet and peaceful atmosphere about the place. Had I not put our names down on a housing list in Bath? Of course I had.
It was now time that I returned home to help Gladys, who never complained about my absence, if it was to do with my work. I was fortunate, she was always patient when I was doing other things, be it studies, work, sport, or even bridge.
My return to ARL was a bit like a
batsman going into bat for his second innings, after he made a duck in the first innings. I imagined a long playing period would be
needed to re-establish myself with my local management.
© Alan Rayment 1998
Last revised: January 14, 2001