|Fellow workers at Brooklands in the 1930s|
|Ron here remembers Alf Fordham – Hawker’s General Manager at Brooklands in 1936 – and the Production Foreman, Fred Middleton. He also remembers some of the other characters who worked for Hawkers at Brooklands in the late 1930s.
Is there anything you can tell me, anything you can remember about Mr Fordham, Alf Fordham (the General Manager) or Fred Middleton who was the Foreman there.
Oh, Alf Fordham was a very – he was a jolly sort of man – he was medium stature. I can remember his secretary, a girl called Joyce Collins was his secretary. He was a very affable man. I know that he had quite a considerable amount to do with the Flying Control Tower that was there then. Because quite often he would say to me, “Ron, go over to the Control Tower and get my sandwiches.” So I would go over to the Control Tower and collect his sandwiches and take them back into his office. This was basically when I was in the Time Keepers office. It seemed to cease when I came to work in the workshops.
Fred Middleton, yes he was a good master, very severe. And the one thing I can always remember about Fred was he always had a pocket handkerchief sticking out of his top pocket. It was always a white pocket handkerchief. The reason I can remember this is because on a later occasion that I will talk to you about.
Members of staff that I can remember – was Reg Bungey. He was in the Inspection Office and he sort of took me under his wing, to a certain degree. Then there was another old man there, Mr Chapman. Now he used to do all of the riggings on the biplanes. He, in his earlier days in aviation, was concerned with the flying circuses and he used to do the ‘wing walking’ on the flying circuses.
This is the people who used to go out along and actually stand on the wings?
Yes, well he used to do, at the air shows – at these air shows. There was him, there was another two brothers that were in the Paint Shop. I can’t remember – Sark, Sarks was their surnames name, I can’t remember the others. Then there was a big old man, all I can remember his name, I’m pretty sure it was Mr Earl, but he was known to everybody as ‘Texas’.
Texas Earl because of the hat that he wore and he was of a very big build and I worked with him quite a long time. And I know I was, in the early days, I was very ‘cheeky’ to him one day. And we were doing the propellers, the ‘props’ – it was when the three bladed ‘props’ came in, and we used to have to take them out and drain them down and do all the nuts and the bolts up in the centre of the ‘prop’ and rewire them and lock them.
And there used to be a bucket of oil come out of that. and I was ‘cheeky’ to him one day. And he said, “If you don’t do that again my boy” he said, ” Your head will go in this bucket of oil.” Stupid like, I said, “You wouldn’t dare. ” Consequently my head got stuck in the bucket of oil. It could never happen today. He’s another one of the men that I can remember there.
Oh – there was one other one, he was the general ‘dogsbody’ and he would do everything, he was an ex Naval man and his name was Tansy Lee. He could do all the splicings on the control wires. And he taught me how to splice rope. Very interesting man, he used to look after the boilers and everything else.
This is the man with the Naval background isn’t it? He was in the Navy?
Yes, he was another gentleman who was, you know, they were all kind to me there.