News: In June 1557 Edmund Allin, his wife and five others were burnt at the stake, where Drakes pub now stands in Fairmeadow, Maidstone, for refusing to accept Catholicism.
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Author Topic: A Sheerness Dockyard Apprentice  (Read 6012 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline peterchall

  • Established Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3620
  • Appreciation 186
  • 25.06.1929 - 12.03.2016
Re: A Sheerness Dockyard Apprentice
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2010, 17:04:52 »
God forbid we reach the situation that every road sweeper/shop assistant has to have a degree.  

I always thought that a university did original research as well as teach. I can remember when there were Technical Colleges, Poly-Technics, and Universities. I don't think there are Poly-Technics today, so what distinguishes a college from a university?

I attended evening classes at 3 evenings a week for 3 years to get an Ordinary National Certificate (ONC) in Mechanical Engineering. Did another year for the first year of the 2 year Higher National Cert course before I was called up for National Service, so never did finish that. In those days there were Certificates, Diplomas, and Degrees. What is the difference between them today?

After I started teaching in 1954 we had enrolment evenings for evening classes in all sorts of disciplines, and courses often became full from the start, so learning was all the rage. Yet few people got a Degree, so were we under-educated in those days?

So, Seafordpete, is my rambling rant as good as yours? :)
It's no use getting old if you don't get artful

Offline busyglen

  • Established Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1042
  • Appreciation 69
    • Westminster Village
Re: A Sheerness Dockyard Apprentice
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2010, 15:35:24 »
That's brilliant CDP!  Very interesting, and love the humour.  :)
A smile is a curve that straightens things out.


  • Guest
Re: A Sheerness Dockyard Apprentice
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2010, 12:31:28 »
A slight difference Peterchall in that the majority of those going now to uni have no idea what they want to do (with the exception of specifics like medicine) . We are getting nearer and nearer the US concept of everyman and his dog having a degree in something  however irrelevant and still not knowing how many beans make 5. Usually an apprentice was there because he wanted to be a fitter/turner or whatever.  My son had a uni place offered him but decided at the last minute not to go and joined one of the big banks at High St Level, 20 years on he is still on the firm, in International Banking inCanary Wharf, overseas visits a couple of times a year and earning far more than I ever did. He recently interviewed for an assistant,  3 year initial contract, reasonable start rate, 300 applicants  only ONE of whom was a British resident, all the rest from overseas and studied here. The girl that got the job was from India, and had top degree and had been head hunted by one oth thre big US finance houses but turned it down. But she WANTS to go into banking and took the appropriate qualification
God forbid we reach the situation that every road sweeper/shop assistant has to have a degree.  We alraedy have "graduation classes"  in pre school groups
Rambling rant finished before I go to blow Lewes to pieces tonight

Offline peterchall

  • Established Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3620
  • Appreciation 186
  • 25.06.1929 - 12.03.2016
Re: A Sheerness Dockyard Apprentice
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2010, 12:15:53 »
This has set me thinking about the present contoversy over student fees. I think it was more common than it is now that you left school and got a job, then your employer paid for your training. Garages didn't expect school-leavers to get themseves trained as mechanics, for instance. I was taken on and sent to college at the employer's expense. My daughter got the job with the NHS and was then trained as a nurse. This applied even for degree courses - British Rail took on trainees from school and sent them to college full time. The armed forces don't expect their officers to pay for their training and then join-up; even if it involves some time at university, they are sent there after joining. And, of course, this was exactly the system described by CDP for the dockyards. Perhaps trainees only got low pay, but at least they weren't running up massive debts. I think the present proposals are going to force employers to realise that training is as much to their advantage as it is for the trainee and they will either have to take on people and then train them, or at least pay off some of the trainees debts.
It's no use getting old if you don't get artful

Offline Paul

  • Established Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1481
  • Appreciation 64
  • Batpigs'n'Boobies.. ;)
Re: A Sheerness Dockyard Apprentice
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2010, 11:34:32 »
Nice one :)
Maybe it's big horse I'm a Londoner. :{

Offline kyn

  • Administrator
  • Established Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7428
  • Appreciation 419
    • Sheppey History
Re: A Sheerness Dockyard Apprentice
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2010, 22:39:58 »
Thank you for such an interesting post  :)

Offline CDP

  • Established Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 832
  • Appreciation 86
A Sheerness Dockyard Apprentice
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2010, 21:20:54 »
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 Pauls 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 Kents 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! I 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 that 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 ,the  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. Incidently  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 ships 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 August 29th   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.

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


BloQcs design by Bloc
SMF 2.0.11 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines