|The Casemaking Department|
John talks about his work as foreman in charge of the Timber Store where he worked together with Jack Day, the foreman of the Casemaking Department. The department made the packing crates for aircraft parts – both small and large – which would then be delivered all over the world.
Where we were, I was lucky the department I worked in we were completely separate from the factory. And we sort of lived in a world of our own there, you know. We dealt mostly with spares, spare parts, you know, and the timber store was kept for use by the maintenance, ‘cause they’d need timber and plywood. And the rest of it was all used in making crates for spare parts.
And what was your personal job within that?
I was the foreman in charge of the timber store and I also worked with the foreman of the Casemaking Department. I had to help out ‘cause the timber store didn’t take my full time so the rest of the time I’d be helping the foreman in the case making.
The two foremen, were you both always in conversation?
Oh yeah. We shared an office – we had an office together.
OK and where was that office?
In the Casemaking Department. Oh, if you don’t know the factory, it’s in a little, up in the corner of case making. If you go onto the sports field, down the sports field, our timber shed backed onto the sports field and our work place was right opposite. There’s a road down there.
How was the stuff you produced used?
Oh, all they did in our department, we made the packing cases for spare parts. Unlike a car all aircraft parts have a life, a set number of hours. Like the wings it’s only so many hours flying time, every part was the same. So after a certain time they had to have a new one and we would crate them up. We used to crate up a whole wing that was quite a big thing, quite a big crate.
And you mentioned a wing, what kind of planes were you working on?
It was the Hunters then – the old Hawker Hunter. Those, the wings came of separately, you know, you had one each side. Then when they started the Harrier – the jump jet – that wing is in one whole piece. You know you’ve got the wing centre. But we didn’t crate them up, they came in a crate but they took them down to Dunsfold and put them on the aircraft. They had a special frame to stand up, you know. It used to stand up on a long trailer, that way.
The ladies you see they worked upstairs here. They did small parts, you know, small pieces. In boxes like that or slightly bigger.