1950-, Civil Engineering

JOINING THE ADMIRALTY FOR THE SECOND TIMEUltimately the model work and the designs of the harbours were over and the quality of work as far as I was concerned dropped remarkably, to the extent that at time there was absolutely nothing to do. I would go to the bosses asking for work and the general answer was ‘Are you up to date with the technical journals?’ It got so bad that I used to try to shame them into giving me work by putting a huge notice on my desk saying – ‘Gone to the Museum’ – or the Library, or anywhere, including shopping. It was totally ignored, so I started reading ‘Situations Vacant’ I wasn’t the only one, there were three of us, all from my year at Queen’s, all fed up and disillusioned.
We answered an advertisement and had to go to London for the interview. I took Soph with me and while I was being grilled, she was looking at shops in Bond Street, which was just round the corner from where I was solving engineering problems in front of about five stern faces. When I came out Soph told me how beautiful the women in London were and how well they were dressed. ‘There’s, one.’ she said, pointing, ‘She seems to be waiting for some one.’ I agreed – anyone – with enough money. When I explained, Soph felt foolish for not having realised who they were, I thought it was rather nice to be so innocent.
I was appointed as an Assistant Engineer and the other two were appointed as Engineering assistants. Perhaps my Naval background had something to do with that. Once again I was gathering a level of experience by being in the right place at the right time, which was unusual for engineers who had only recently graduated.
We went to work on the extension of the North South runway at Sydenham Airport. We were acting more as contractors than Government employees as the work was carried out by direct labour. We received the design from Head Office and then proceeded to build it with our own men, materials and plant, for all the world like a contractor.
I was in sole charge at the beginning and this entitled me to lunch and have my regulation half pint in the Wardroom, as our side of the Airport was a Naval Air-base. I kept my lower deck experiences very much under wraps, not through snobbery, purely based on experience of the regular Navy Wardroom’s reaction to the Lower Deck in general.

Categorized as General

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *