Kingston Aviation

John Richardson
Transcript: 1
‘If it can’t be made at British Aerospace, it cannot be made’.

John here describes the community spirit in the factory where most workers knew each other and generally helped each other out. The engineering skills they developed were not just used in the building of aircraft but to do jobs for other workers.  


 Perfect. Would you say then that there was a clear sense of community spirit within the company?

Oh yeah, yeah it was – the company itself was very good to people. A chap I knew he had a mild stroke. [unclear] –after a few months he could come back. But was only allowed to work from nine to four. But when he came to work he had to be driven in by car or chauffeur, and home. If there was no one in the transport they’d get onto the Directors and they’d send a Rolls Royce for him.

Right. Did you ever get any of that treatment?

No, no, no. We had an apprentice who got his hand cut badly and he had to go to Kingston Hospital and the only person who had a [?]  was one of the chauffeurs, in uniform with a Rolls Royce. And he said to this apprentice, ‘When we get to Kingston Hospital do not open the door, I’ll do that’. And he pulled up outside Kingston Hospital, opened, as the lad got out he saluted – and about two doctors and three nurses came rushing out to see who it was. They probably thought it was royalty or something. But that was the spirit there everybody, you know, somebody got in a bit of trouble – you always tried to help out.

You with your managers as well, was there always a very good relationship with everyone?

Oh yeah, yeah. I don’t know, I haven’t worked for another big company but I can’t honestly imagine another, well perhaps they do but, it was so – everybody knew everybody. I mean everybody knew who the Works Manager was. Everybody – it was one of these companies.

If you worked with everybody you could get anything done. They used to say, ‘if you can’t get it made in British Aerospace, it cannot be made’.

I mean, like what we called ‘homers’, you know. Now I was interested in photography and I wanted a, what they call a ‘reversing ring’, you put it on yours lens, turn it round the wrong way for doing close-ups. And I spoke to the chap in the Machine Shop, ‘oh yeah he give me the thing and we’ll make it, do one for you’. If you had a lawn mower – you know the old type with the thing that swung round – if you wanted it sharpened up, there was one chap. You saw the foreman and he would look on the – oh next Saturday. You took your lawnmower, just the cutter in, and he would put it on the machine and sharpen it and of course because it’s done like that it’s perfect. It’s not deeper this end than that end. Little things like that.