Member: Mr Twiddler
My career started in 1965 when I started my 5 year apprenticeship with a local Radio, T.V. and electrical shop. In the first year all I seemed to do was repair kettles, irons and electric fires. At Christmas time I even had to repair customers Christmas lights!
We had two engineers, one of which had served a part apprentiship as an electrician and the other, had a passion for washing machine repairs. This gave me a grounding in house electrics and domestic appliance repairs. My electronics knowledge was gained while accompaning the engineers on service calls and attending college, one day a week and two evenings. This lasted for 5 years plus an additional year which was added at the advent of colour T.V. It was not long before I was receiving driving lessons from the two engineers in the firm’s Ford Thames van, to get me through my test.
Once I had passed this I then enjoyed more freedom with the collection and delivery of sets. I also got the dirty jobs like going out to clean CRT’s and the glass protection screens. This was a common problem with many houses having coal fires. I was also spending more time repairing radios and televisions on the bench. One cold January I accompanied one of the engineers and we spent a week or two, wiring a small cottage in a customers back garden which she letted out in the summer. Having no mains electricity it was very cold conditions to work in. It was an experience that taught me a lot about house wiring.
There was always a T.V. running on soak test in the workshop with test card music belting out. Christmas time was best with a wide varity of Christmas music. At 10AM every day I made the trip to a nearby shop, to Buy Pork Farms sausage rolls which we heated up and enjoyed with our coffee. I remember the practical jokes as well. The charged electrolytics, left lying on the bench and the concealed mains dropper section, which would suddenly belch out clounds of stinking smoke. The televisions used to have a licence label made of celluloid, they often found there way to the top of the mains dropper, to be heated when you were nearby.
My first weeks wages was only £2-10 shillings (£2.50) but I would not have changed those times. It is a shame that apprentiships seem to be a thing of the past with the loss of so many engineering jobs. The country has lost so many skilled people whose knowledge has sadly been lost for ever.