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Author Topic: Working ?1949 TO 1954 in the P & O  (Read 13614 times)

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Offline CDP

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Re: Working ?1949 TO 1954 in the P & O
« Reply #36 on: September 07, 2016, 16:25:59 »
Re Old Boys Club for the Tech. school: whilst I was teaching a few of us went to see the the Head, Mr.Barnett, with the idea of starting up an Old Boys Association because the school was about to shut and a lot of boys and teachers thought it was a good idea. After explaining, he said "over my dead body!!" and told us he would never allow it and no amount of discussion !!!!!! would ever change his mind. And so it was.
The solution to every problem is a.) time , or  b.) another problem.

Online DaveTheTrain

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Re: Working ?1949 TO 1954 in the P & O
« Reply #35 on: December 14, 2015, 20:42:46 »
DTT re the Pearn boring machine , it always amazed us apprentices that the Fitting shop  had 50+++++ lathes to turn , or remove metal from the outside of a job but only one Pearn machine to bore a job to bore and remove metal fro the inside of a cylinder

Very true CDP.  I think it is like that in many places, it is certainly true of some of the preservation workshops I have been in.  Boring machines are so unusual that when one pops up on ebay it gets some prettty frenetic bidding.  I don`t think I am going to part with mine in a hurry.

Offline CDP

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Re: Working ?1949 TO 1954 in the P & O
« Reply #34 on: December 10, 2015, 10:25:19 »
DTT re the Pearn boring machine, it always amazed us apprentices that the Fitting shop had 50+++++ lathes to turn, or remove metal from the outside of a job but only one Pearn machine to bore a job to bore and remove metal from the inside of a cylinder.
The solution to every problem is a.) time , or  b.) another problem.

Offline CDP

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Re: Working ?1949 TO 1954 in the P & O
« Reply #33 on: December 10, 2015, 10:10:28 »
That was very interesting Conan .The dome teacher at Sheerness was constructed ( hidden ? ) under a very large rectangular iron sheeting building  about the size of a large detached house which is now the site of a local sailing club and now completely dismantled .
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Offline conan

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Re: Working ?1949 TO 1954 in the P & O
« Reply #32 on: December 08, 2015, 18:42:59 »
CDP You'll be pleased to know there's still the remains of one of the dome trainers left

http://snomay.photoshelter.com/image/I000061PW51cD.14
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Online DaveTheTrain

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Re: Working ?1949 TO 1954 in the P & O
« Reply #31 on: December 07, 2015, 21:51:42 »
I think these stories are great CDP.  I assume the Pearn was a cylinder boring machine for steam cylinders?   P.S.  I just did the maths and worked out you started your apprenticeship 71 years ago. That is 39 years before I started mine. An incredible fact, well done.
DTT

Offline CDP

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Re: Working ?1949 TO 1954 in the P & O
« Reply #30 on: December 07, 2015, 20:19:58 »
A  SHEERNESS DOCKYARD APPRENTICE 1944-1949.

CDP
After passing the Entrance Examination for the R.N.Artificers I was placed 203, I think, and only 350 places were available.The exam was sat by over 2,000 boys from all over England, but sadly I failed the Medical (I was declared Medically Unfit by a team of seven  Doctors). But, I was only slightly colour blind and my left eye was slightly weak. I had wanted to be an Engine Room Artificer but it was decreed that I would have been a danger at sea not knowing the colours on the watertight doors, as the colour denoted when these doors should be shut or left open in rough weather etc.
 My thinking at that time was to see the world at somebody else’s expense and I thought the Royal Navy would be ideal for that. So I decided to try another route via the Dockyard. I read “Better sight without glasses” and many similar books and also played a lot of table tennis to exercise my eyes - winning a few medals on the way playing for the Bethel Club, the V.C. Club and, for a short while, with the St. Paul`s Blue Town Club. Playing  with and against Roy Ballard, Bert Townsend, Eric Neave, Joan Porter, Joyce Green, John Quint and his sister Joyce to name a few.
I once had a game of ping pong (!) with Kent`s non-playing Table Tennis Captain. He had a wooden leg so I thought this will be easy, his leg squeaked every time he was caught out of position but he beat me easily and I thought I had really played well that day.
 But I did represent Sheerness playing against the Italian P.O.W.’s at the Victoria Club one day. We fielded a team of nine and, as I was the weakest link, played my match first. We collected quite a lot of money for Charity that day and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves trying to make ourselves understood. But we did learn to count up to twenty one in Italian.
The medical examination for the dockyard was a little different from the Royal Navy Medical. The Surgeon Commander called me in, I entered the room and he said “Oh! You are not deaf then“ and ticked the form on his desk regarding deafness, and then said “Please sit down“, which I did. He then said “You can see the chair then“ and I received another tick, and so it went on. I coughed at the right place and I passed A1.
I started my 5 year apprenticeship as an Engine Fitter in Sheerness Dockyard on 28th August 1944 and completed it August 28th 1949. There were 12 Engine Fitters in my year, Brian Buckwell, Harry James,  Alan Taylor, Harry Smith, Ted Smith, Ken Kirkbride, Billy Edwards, Sammy Phillips, Bert Lowe, Peter Pearson and Peter Castle.
The first 12 on the examination list (the brainy ones) opted for electrical apprenticeships, the next 12 (also very, very brainy) chose Engine Fitting, the next 12 (rather a dumb lot !!) opted to become Shipwrights with the remainder being offered the lesser trades. (No offence meant !).
Our Dockyard training was the best in the world, without a doubt, and envied by everyone.
My Indentures were signed on 20th October, 1944. They stated, among other rules and regulations, that during the period of  our apprenticeship we were not allowed to marry nor to be guilty by word or action of any immoral, indecent, irregular or improper conduct or behaviour whatsoever…….. etc.etc.
Of course one lad had to test this out and was married during his apprenticeship aged 20, after asking the Captain of the Dockyard for his permission and also receiving a telling off. We all then received a lecture on naughty marriages.
The first year of our apprenticeship was employed in making and using our own tools e.g. chisels, all types of engineering tools, spanners, scrapers etc. and repairing small pieces of engines, and pages and pages of theory on different types of engines and machinery,  etc. The remaining four years training was spent on the various machines, the lathe, the driller, the miller, the planner, the Pearn and  working on refrigerators, welding, the foundry, the boilershop, the coppersmiths shop, the gun gang, lifts and cranes and the engines and auxillary machinery of submarines, destroyers, small motor boats, in the fitting shop, in the dry docks and afloat in the harbour.
I also worked at the Navy depot, R.A.B in Hope Street collecting and collating all the Dome Teaching Equipment from all over England. This was a system whereby the whole of the inside of the huge building was a huge domed screen and the whole apparatus inside was worked by a cinema projector and cams, planes would appear in the distance and swoop overhead to disappear in the distance.
 Model anti-aircraft guns were connected to the sighting mechanism and a film was taken of your accuracy in shooting down the planes (I shot down two spitfires, one Wellington bomber and three Junkers when I tried it out).
 I worked also on the B.Y.M.S (Brookland Yard Mine Sweepers – U.S.A.) at Queenborough, also at Barton Point on various guns.
No wonder a  Dockyard Apprenticeship was the envy of the world.

We were under the guidance of Mr. Frank Stuart Flaherty  (F.S.F.) a lovely gentleman but sadly for him whenever we found any scrap metal from the Fitting Shop Dump stamped with a  “F.S.” (Fitting Shop) we would take it to Frank after stamping another “F“ on the originals (making it F.S.F.) with “Is this yours sir, we have just found it“.
We also tied thunderflashes to the top of his tool box so when he opened the lid it was accompanied by very loud bangs, he took it all in good fun.
Ken Kirkbride was handing out apples to us one day and Frank came to see what we were doing, he was always wary when he saw us congregating together, thinking we were planning something (usually we were) Ken gave him one of these apples and he came back in a few minutes and said to Ken that was a lovely apple, Ken then said it ought to be it came from your garden last night (laughter from all).
One of the lads had a large ball of oily cotton waste and started it smouldering, removed the screws holding the top of Franks toolbox (we had spent hours trying to open his padlock) and put the smouldering waste inside and screwed the lid back. When Frank opened the lid  he must have thought a genie was about to appear. He never did work out how we were able to open his very secure lock on his toolbox. His other padlocks had been very easy to open.
Everybody attended The Dockyard School, the first year was divided into First Upper and First Lower.
We had school on two whole days and three evenings or was it one whole day and two evenings ?
We had fun with Alan Taylor the Teachers pet.  We were waiting for the teacher to arrive for one of the lessons and as soon as we heard him coming along the corridor we made a grab for Alan and threw him out of the window. He then arrived late through the front door looking very sheepish. After a few times coming in the class late - he was not the Pet for long.
Another lad, Alan White, an Electrical apprentice and “pet to be“ would be turned in his chair to face the door and only released when the teacher was just about to enter the room with the teacher saying “Stop playing about White! turn around and stop being silly“.
Mr. Norrie the headmaster was a typical Scot. Alan White dropped a threepence piece on the floor which was promptly grabbed by one of the lads who placed it on Mr.Norries desk at the front. When he came into the room he saw the money and asked whose it was but no one  replied so he said he was going out to get a book and if it was still there when he returned it was going in his pocket. Some of us held Alan White back and we exchanged the threepence piece for three pennies, Mr.Norrie returned, pocketed the money and carried on with the lesson as if nothing had happened.
At Christmas we would have a lovely time celebrating. The Inspectors etc. left us alone. We would have a sing song sitting on a set of four torpedo tubes with some of the older lads swinging the tubes round and round.
Sheerness Dockyard was renowned, among other things, of making the best torpedo tubes in the World. Incidentally, shortly after the War the Boilermakers shop tried to make a dustbin to compete with Industry. It cost approximately £30 to make (the average wage was about £5  I think).
We all had to suffer an Initiation from the older apprentices which was intended to make us all equal and certainly stopped anybody feeling superior. Details will be sent in a plain brown envelope to any one interested.
The Sea Trials after a ship`s refit were the most enjoyable. We would put to sea and have a very enjoyable time while the ship was  being tested and passed as O.K. Sadly we were not  allowed to submerge during the submarine trials but we were allowed on the conning tower to use the “Pigs Ear", the submariners toilet, and so we could watch the other boats going by.

On 29th August, 1949 I joined the P and O as an Engineer and an Officer and a Gentleman! to serve on the liners going to Australia. This I did for five years.
It was interesting  to note that I was doing exactly the same work that the R.N. would not let me do and without the discipline.
The apprenticeship showed us how to improvise which was very useful at sea when we were miles from any shop.



http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=18724.msg163520#msg163520
The solution to every problem is a.) time , or  b.) another problem.

Offline CDP

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Re: Working ?1949 TO 1954 in the P & O
« Reply #29 on: August 25, 2015, 12:39:16 »
This ship had six of these monster water tube boilers, four always working and two being cleaned and repaired by us, they filled the Boiler Room. It was hot !!!
The solution to every problem is a.) time , or  b.) another problem.

Offline Sentinel S4

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Re: Working ?1949 TO 1954 in the P & O
« Reply #28 on: August 22, 2015, 16:41:43 »
Oh it was a Scotch or a Wet Back Scotch then. I have rolled a few tubes myself, not pleasant when the boiler is hot.

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Offline CDP

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Re: Working ?1949 TO 1954 in the P & O
« Reply #27 on: August 22, 2015, 12:05:20 »
Sentinel S4
Because the boiler water was on the outside of the tubes and the leak was at the contact point with the main structure, we had to bevel out by rolling a tool on the outside of the tube end, if that makes sense. I am a maths teacher at heart and English is a no no for me .!!! Maths runs in the family.      (Google W.G.Penney  Atom Bomb, we both had the same g.father).
The solution to every problem is a.) time , or  b.) another problem.

Offline Sentinel S4

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Re: Working ?1949 TO 1954 in the P & O
« Reply #26 on: August 22, 2015, 08:09:27 »
This is very interesting and I am enjoying your time at sea very much. How did you repair this tube? In a conventional boiler you could have capped the tube, we had to do that a couple of times on the Romney, but that is not an option for a water tube boiler.

S4.
A day without learning something is a day lost and my brain is hungry. Feed me please.

Offline CDP

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Re: Working ?1949 TO 1954 in the P & O
« Reply #25 on: August 21, 2015, 21:31:48 »

Please don't think that we always had an easy life , here is one example of hard work .
Our thinking was Work hard and so play hard
One day ,one of the main water tube boilers sprung a leak  inside the boiler at the back end .
It had to be repaired  if left the boiler  could explode .
We opened up the front of the boiler and  waited until it had cooled down a little and placed a large thick plank of wood on the floor as we had to walk on this very hot boiler floor  ,bent over , to get at the leak ,and the plank burst into flames , the engineer who was at the back rushed out with his  overalls on fire and gasping for fresh air ,
We waited another half hour and the next plank did not ignite so we tried again . In the meantime we had constructed a fire proof type Fearnaught  overcoat complete with hood ,used some tubing and a compressor to supply air and this was fixed to the back of the overcoat .We could only work about a minute ,if that , at a time before the heat and lack of fresh air made us  retreat , two engineers passed out during this repair  the Chief Engineer  kept shouting at us to hurry up !
 Hence " Work hard > Play hard "
The solution to every problem is a.) time , or  b.) another problem.

Offline CDP

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Re: Working ?1949 TO 1954 in the P & O
« Reply #24 on: August 20, 2015, 14:36:55 »
Every trip out/ then back to Australia the ship would organise various contests for the passengers to pass the time away. After each table tennis contest I would ask the winner if we could have a match, I met a lot of people this way. I had thought about being a £10 Pom myself at one time. Another Engineer, Paddy, and myself had planned to hitch hike around the world but as they say "The best laid plans ..."  but I decided to leave the sea and settle down with my future wife and Paddy continued our journey. He continued to follow our original plan, we had collected loads of names and addresses of passengers from all over the world who said we could stay with them for free on our trips. His first stop was at Freemantle where he worked on a sheep station and the nearest town was an airplane trip away so he saved an huge amount of money. He then moved to Adelaide and bought a car ready for the next move on, but first he went to work on a fruit farm, subsequently married the owner`s daughter and now owns this very large farm and that is as far as Paddy got .!!!!!!

  Funeral at sea.
One of the saddest events that I was involved with, I had to help with a burial at sea of the ships plumber. He died in his sleep and I was asked to be one of the witnesses.
 The burial at sea took place at early sunrise before the passengers were walking about and in the secluded part of the ship at the stern. All the ships officers not on duty were invited to attend and we lined up in our allocated places.
The body was brought in and very carefully placed on a board covered by the Union Jack and after the prayers by the Captain the board was slowly lifted up at the end and the body slowly slid from the board into the sea to land with a splash never to be forgotten.

On another never to be forgotten moment, one of the ship`s passengers was a very high ranking Indian and he had bodyguards and about 6 ? very lovely young girls/ladies to keep him company. Every day he would line these girls up in a row and he would walk up and down in front  of them and then select his companion for the day then she found a sun lounger for him. At meal times in the main dining hall, before the meal was started the ladies would offer their food to this man who would choose a small piece of food from each of the ladies plates and they would politely wait until he started to eat before they began their food.
One day on the deck I saw the most attractive girl in his group, her beauty was startling and her eyes were very beautiful and I must have looked at her too long because one of his guards came over to me very, very angry with me for looking at this girl. I thought he was going to hit me, or worse?  I made my excuses and left !!!!

Another passenger was very interesting to talk to, he claimed to have been detained in most jails in various countries and had been involved in all types of crime, although he said that he would never get involved in either the white girl traffic or gun running. He had a lot of tales to tell us but sadly he was taken very ill and within three days could only move one hand and was taken off the ship in London on a stretcher.

On one trip the Captain decided to go through the Straits of Messina instead of circling Sicilly and all of the local boats decided to come and see if this big ship could go through the Straits without colliding with and sinking any of their craft. We twisted and turned with the ships siren sounding nearly all the way. Although there are Rules of the Sea, these people ignored them and appeared to test our Captain's seamanship! but our passengers really enjoyed the battle and talked about it for days. And to complete a very pleasant memory, we circled Stromboli twice, that lovely volcano a few miles away, I was settled in a deck chair with a large blanket over my knees on the poop deck at the very back of the ship where no lights were allowed. Never to be forgotten, the eruption of Stromboli! the volcano.

At the height of my time at sea I was drinking a bottle of  gin every 2/3  days and smoking 200 cigarettes a week, that was when a bottle of gin cost three shillings (and a bottle of squash was also 3 shillings, so it was cheaper to drink the gin - I  think that logic is sound !!) I acquired quite a taste for gin and alka seltzer and gin with Andrews Liver Salts (oh! the good old days).
One game we would play was called Bones.
We would all sit in a circle with our glass and bottle then working clockwise we would start counting from 1 to 100 and every time the score came to a number 7, or any multiple of 7 or a seven in the answer etc. you must call out "Bones". No thinking time was allowed and we then  speed up calling out the number. When 100 is reached we then work backwoods to the number one, any mistakes meant a (large) sip of your bottle.The record was 2 games  (I think).
Such a silly game !!!!


The solution to every problem is a.) time , or  b.) another problem.

Offline CDP

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Re: Working ?1949 TO 1954 in the P & O
« Reply #23 on: August 13, 2015, 21:39:35 »
One evening we went to Luna Park, the prime Amusement Park in Sydney Harbour. The main entrance was through a very large mouth painted on the very large piece of wood at the entrance, so large that it can be seen on most postcards of the Harbour. We were looking forward to the Show of the Evening with a tight rope walker being very, very active, very high up on the wire rope. It then started to rain which held everything up for about an hour but the rain kept coming. The audience started to be very vocal, having paid money to see this show and the manager appeared saying it was too dangerous for the tight rope walker and to prove he was right he sent a man out who ran up and down the slippery wire cleaning the wire with a rag. The manager then reported that the cleaner said that it was too dangerous. The audience failed to see the logic here and booed and so we all got our money back.
.
Every trip out/ then back to Australia the ship would organise various contests for the passengers to pass the time away. After each table tennis contest I would ask the winner if we could have a match, I met a lot of people this way. I had thought about being a £10 Pom myself at one time. Another engineer, Paddy and myself had planned to hitch-hike around the world but, as they say, "The best laid plans ..."  but I decided to leave the sea and settle down with my future wife and Paddy continued our journey. He continued to follow our original plan, we had collected loads of names and addresses of passengers from all over the world who said we could stay with them for free on our trips. His first stop was at Freemantle where he worked on a sheep station and the nearest town was an airplane trip away, so he saved a huge amount of money. He then moved to Adelaide, bought a car ready for the next move on, but first he went to work on a fruit farm, subsequently married the owner`s daughter and now owns this very large farm and that is as far as Paddy got !!!!!!
The solution to every problem is a.) time , or  b.) another problem.

Offline Dave Smith

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Re: Working ?1949 TO 1954 in the P & O
« Reply #22 on: August 01, 2015, 13:01:53 »
Very interesting re Cocos Island. As it's only 9 sq. miles, I would have thought not enough inhabitants to warrent " post"! However, a very famous "tin can mail" (exactly as you describe) did occur on a regular basis in Tonga (with philatelic interest), but that is Pacific Ocean.

 

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