Thursday, 14 December 2017

Visit to Pompeii

Many years ago I was sent to the university of Salerno to install a magnet system by Oxford Instruments who I was working for at the time. I spent a couple of weeks there and on the weekend I had the chance to visit Pompeii because it was not that far away from the place. So I took my life in my hands and hopped on a local bus to go there which was only a few Lire back then (Before Euro's).
Any way after some hair raising experiences on the roads I carried there and took a few photos with my Canon Powershot 35mm compact. If I'd have had a digital camera then i would have come back with hundreds of photos rather that the couple of rolls I took. You  can read about the history of Pompeii in the link. All the photos were scanned up so the quality is not as good a a digital camera you get now. When I visited which was on a weekend there were a distinct lack of tourists around and rather that go on a guided tour I just wandered around freely 

Sure this was the way I went in, all I remember was that the gate used to face the sea port below

The outer walls beside the road

Another view of the are and the road over to the right

Inside the city you can see the roads people used to walk on

another thing you might notice is the lack of people around

There ware some beautiful areas, this one is near the Amphitheatre

Think this was a temple once

view across one part to mount Vesuvius

another area not sure th epart though

could have been another Temple
Had to lighten this photo 

Did know this little fellows name once

Typical garden of a wealthy person

Date Palm Tree

More views of the place

Not sure if this was a shop or part of the public baths

one of the wall paintings you can see
and one of the more famous one
This is the outside of the Amphitheatre
and the view you get walking in

and looking down from the top of the place

The skeleton behind the fence is that of a horse & I think this was the blacksmiths
The saddest  part of my walk around was seeing the remains of the people who lived here in the throws of dying

Until you see them like this you cannot begin to think of what horror the poor souls went through 
I do not think it was a pleasant way to go
Vesuvius again
That concludes my tour of the place, believe it or not I visited the place twice so I may have more photos to add yet. Hope you enjoyed my little walk around

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Fifty Years Ago

Fifty odd years ago  I spent my summer whiling away my days at the local swimming pool or just messing around on the river. I had left school and did not know if I had got a job or not. I had been turned down by AERE Harwell and was waiting to see if I had gotten apprenticeship at Hyraulics Research Station.  Sometime during the holidays I received a letter telling me I had been accepted  so on the 26th of August 1968 I got on my bike and rode to work for the first time.

Which went through Wallingford and ended up going along this road which at the time was the main road to Oxford (now it's just access)

Then through these gates a very nervous young lad

The following photos were taken at HR Wllingford as it is known now back in 2009 when I went to watch the start of the Thames run and show how the place looks now. It was here I met the other apprentice Trevor

And after going to personal then  being taken through our induction and signing the official secrets act we ended being taken to this place the main Workshop

This end was where the Heavy Gang were the side where all the welding was done. I spent two wonderful months working with this crew towards the end of my apprenticeship learning to weld, at one stage I had Arc eye after welding which was painful. I was also one for playing tricks on one of them called Tom Sanderson. He smoked rollups and I would nail the tin to his bench , tip it upside-down so it looked like the lid was on and when he picked it up the contents would fall out. 
This end was the changing rooms and managers office one day while changing to go home I flicked Toms bald head with a steel rule then when he riled up (he was not impressed with me flicking a steel rule on his bald head) so I ran through the workshop only to have a hammer thrown at me I literally had to dive out the way and heard it hitting the machines behind me. I was pulled up before the manager the next day for a right dressing down.

And this was where Trev and myself ended up. The Apprentice workshop where we would spend out first year learning our trade. The workshop was equipment with a lathe, milling machine, shaper and pillar drill along with a couple of benches and a small soldering hearth. By the time we left we knew how to use all the machines use a file and hacksaw correctly and had an idea how to solder.  After finishing we were supposed to go into the main workshop and be placed with a craftsman. We stayed with him for six months before moving on to another. Problem was we were kept in the workshop a little longer that we expected and given jobs from the main workshop. This all stopped when my mate Trevor ended up being dragged into the lathe he was working on (no guards then) . By the time I hit the emergency stop he had pulled away leaving his cloths torn off my. I ran to get the first aid officer. Lucky he was ok apart from a a few scratches but we were soon moved in to the main workshop

 Trevor and I showing off the work we did during our first year in the workshop

 The product of a years training and work in the Apprentice shop, I still have a few of the items I made though they are not as pristine as you see them there

 Above is a view over the boundary hedge towards the main workshop

The workshop is the tall building with the high glass which at the time had a smashed window caused by another apprentice who had fixed a counterbalance weight on a lathe faceplate forgetting to tighten it up. He also forgot to lower the speed. The result was the lathe started up and the weight shot off the faceplate and out of the top most window through the glass landing in the grass beyond. That  happened before I started my time there. In the next three years I spent my time working in different parts of the workshop learning different disciplines and perfecting my trade though I admit to having some moments like braking a lathe and milling machine which had to be fixed.

Some of it took me to the main hall which was in the above photo. When it was demolished I could not tell you but the place was huge and the road in the foreground was the perimeter road

Above I found this photo on the internet and managed to save it. It was taken after I left as the building you see on the right was not there at the time The rest was and shows the size of the hall, You can make out the manor house near the bottom. The building nearby is the office block and beyond is hall where all the models were made to replicate the work that needed doing. A couple that come to mind was the Morecambe Bay project and the Thames Barrier both of which I did bits of work on

 Photo taken by Hydraulics Research shows the Thames Estuary, the model was built in a building over at Milton where we all got taken to see it by coach

Above a clipping I found on the net which shows the inside of the Hall

This used to be the second entrance & exit and over on the left used to be a row of Nissen Huts 
that were left over from WWII some had experiments going on in them. In the first B&W photo you can see them top right. Now a  new building had been built which at the time I too this photo was being constructed

So this was where the Main Hall was

and this is what took  it's place. It stands on what used to be a lawn where we used to have PE once a week that usually ended up with us playing football and were I broke my wrist giving me a couple of weeks off work, after which I managed to come my Lambretta on the way to work  missing the back of a truck because I was late after sleeping in due to being off work with the broken wrist. I might add if it had not been for the guys in Transport being in the cafĂ© by where the crash took place I might not be here writing this as they saw it happen when I slid by on my side and ran out to stop a van driver moving off as I was under the wheels. The look on the drivers face was a picture to behold. They picked me up and asked if I was OK I said thanks and shot off for work. I was put in the accident book as late for work after coming off my Lambretta as I came through the main gates

The Back of the manor house built by William Setmour Blackstone
I presume this was his coat of arms above

This building was part of the stable block and the apprentices had a youth club here.

The transport section was situated here in the old carriage buildings

now they are all converted to offices

Looks a very nice place to work

This was the car park though admittedly I parked outside the workshop. Over to the right were some tennis courts we used

Looking towards what was the transport section

This used to be the electronics building near the workshop where they made all the electronic equipment used in the place
Photo taken off Wikipedia HR Wallingford Ltd - HR Wallingford Ltd. The extension on the right is where the canteen was, and every day one of the apprentices used to go on the bun run collecting the rolls & cakes for the craftsmen in the workshop. Need less to say two of us used to give the ladies the run around and were always happy to help make the rolls, the fact we never paid for ours as we slipped them in the box went unknown. We also made the tea at tea brake on occasion and came away with a profit, what a bunch of rouges. 

The Main House from the road as it is today. After four years  of learning my trade I became a craftsman as they were known then though never took up the position electing to take the advice of the older craftsmen and go out in the world and make my own way, so after I received my apprenticeship deeds in August 1972 I left to go and work at Oxford Instruments were I spent the next 31 years but that is another story.
Dedicated to the Former Apprentices and Craftsmen of HRS where ever you are now.