By Bill Exley
Bill X - (as in Pub Raffles, Draws - etc) - then is it, Bill Ex or Blex ?
. I was born in St Peter Port, Guernsey in 1937, one of the seven Channel Islands lying apprx 90 miles due South of Torquay, on the South coast of England, U.K. . - . It was just a few years before the outbreak of the Second World War , (31/08/39), and the German occupation. I was then evacuated - (c1939) - along with my mother and sister to Barnsley, in Yorkshire - my father's home town. (The 7 Isles are, Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, Sark, Herm, Jethou : off-Herm : and Brechou or Brecqhou off Sark, owned by the twin brothers, Sirs David and Frederick Barclay and families)
Just 3 days later, the Germans marched in and took over all the Islands, Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney and Sark. - So Mr Blex, the worlds' most renown Illusionist , disguised as a small boy, evades the German forces, now no person could leave the island, so I vanish .
. So we now have the German forces in full control, maintaining a firm, but respectful Occupation, this included some rules, such as a nightly curfew. The States of Guernsey was also advised by Mr Churchill saying, "offer No Resistance" . The German Command knew of this, so left the Islanders to carry on their lives as before. - Near the end of the war, some of the teenage soldiers said they were hungry, so were fed with the odd meal by my relatives, as they lived quite well off their garden produce. There was obviously some food shortages and strict rationing, but some German soldiers chose to stay and settle on the island after the War.
. Mr Blex goes to school : starting in two very strict, but very good, Catholic schools, namely Notre Dame du Rosaire primary school, Burnt Lane, with the gentle Charismatic Sister Cecile. and then St Joseph Catholic School. - I later passed my scholarship exams and a place to Grammar School / or States Intermediate School for Boys, in Brock Road, or - École Intermediaire. It was Sir, when conversing with all the Cap & Gowned teachers, and raising ones' school - cap if you met a teacher in the street, while going to and from school . .
If I had gained higher pass marks, I would have gone on to Elizabeth College, the high standards of the Guernsey and Jersey education system was well known. - ( Victoia College, in Jersey, this explains the many talents and ingenuity of Nigel Froome of Guernsey, see my link to Theo's Wreck) - Although I am ' C of E 'by faith – the Catholic schools were close by and within 1 mile of our home - in Vauvert.
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A mini 'premature' Addendum : at this juncture, * - I too have fond memories / re Jim Ellis and his - Blunham Memories / of going into a Grocery shop in Mill St , Guernsey, ( a Mr Whales ) and asking for a Penny-worth bag, or half, of Broken Biscuits / c1948 / 49. - most Biscuits then, were in large square tins kept in front of the counter on the floor, and about 12/14 inch cubic size, displayed at an angle, the owner allways serving you. - For interest, the Self Service (on trust) and our Supermarkets were introduced in c1948 & '50's onwards in the U.K. / or Mainland to islanders, with Tesco, Sainsburys and M & S . - and Guernsey following later.
At this time in shops, you were Served for everything from your list. Our groceries could be delivered on request, for 6 old pennies, or 3 pence. - Also a rise at work in the 1950s and 60s of Sixpence / hour was a Max wage rise, and earnt , if at all, on merit and equiv. to £1 per week for 40 hrs labour. Jobs of c£1,000 per annum , or £20 per week were sought after and usually of the Technical or Professional nature. - Visit Blunham Memories - by Jim Ellis and his ref. to broken-biscuits , or Index Page for yesterdays' Blunham village -100yrs ago .
. Normal service will now be resumed : Echoes, or Eckos * of the Black & White T.V. days - with 'No Transmission' . (the 1950's & '60s)
The tiny island of Guernsey itself is only 3 to 4 miles across, by 7 miles down the west coast road, and a perimeter coast line totalling 24 miles, so in perspective, its 30 sq miles would easily fit into the Isle of Wight four times (148 sq milrs)
They were Re cycled and I had 10 to 15 shillings 'Old Money' or 50 to75p. - equiv to 3/4 of my weeks' wage later in life, of 25 Shillings - or £1-25p - for a 40hrs Wk. (in 1952/53) My Army pay in National Service - 1958/60 @ £1.40 pence/week, of 24hrs / day, 7 days per wk. - and you could be killed somewhere ! !
I must have looked out of a Dickensian Film, I didn't care, I enjoyed it, in all weathers. Some of my customers even left out an Apple , a glass of Water or a covered piece of cake for me, with their jars ! . (Bless) . Then c1951- '52. a G.P.O. telegram 'delivery-boy' with a wide leather belt and Pouch, plus an arm band of authority, astride a heavy Post Office cycle. - I delivered anywhere on Guernsey - over the Easter or Christmas busy periods, during my latter school holidays. - Job Ref to hand from the Head Post Master a Mr Chapel. - there were no Computers or E Mails at this time. : Once more a ‘Nomadic trip’ took our family of four back to Barnsley and the U.K. in July 1954.
In Barnsley - I found work in Television - more specifically the Building and Tuning of a Television, from a bare chasis, fitting all parts using circuit diagrams etc. It was a small company ( Cinesmith Ltd ) in Regent Street, Barnsley, Yorkshire, employing only about 6 of us, with the brightest lad, Don North, who did the final adjustments and Tuning. They were 17-inch tube size but only the Black & White version, the Colour T.V. appeared, I think, about mid - 1967 and very expensive too. - In the 1950's there was only the one T.V. channel, BBC 1, then ITV arrived in 1955 followed later by BBC 2 in 1964. - (Later my wife Barbara and I moved down to Guernsey , C.I. - in Mar . 1962 until 1969)
I even stood on Barnsley market and we actually sold a few T.V. 's. ! - Our Boss, a Mr Fred Smith , a 'Canny Man', said we were a part of the Mc. Arthur T.V. group of companies , more likely he had all their Bankrupt Stock for a song. - (again on meagre monies - c£1-25p per week)
My second job - was with a company called Isherwood and here I progressed to Outdoor and Bench repairs of televisions, and attended Barnsley and Rotherham Tech. Colleges, which led to my City & Guilds Certificate, with a rise so better wage. . - . My job was kept open for me by law, until the end of my 2 years National Service time, (Nov 1958 to Nov 1960) - so I returned 3 days later in the Nov 1960. I enjoyed my time here with a great bunch of people, - Halcyon Days. - We serviced the Black & White sets at that time such as , Murphy, Bush, Philips, Ecko (or Echoes * as in Para 6 above) and other makes. . Our 1st. Television in 1962 - was a huge secondhand 17" ECKO T330, - an ex trade-in as a deposit.
Isherwoods was a very nice friendly television sales and service shop, one of ten around the South Yorkshire area, such as Leeds, Sheffield, Wakefield and others, owned by a Mr Alwyn Isherwood from Leeds. We had a good crowd of knowledgable people and I picked up my trade quickly , , During my time here I built a 'working' two-and-a-half-inch, tube diameter, Oscilloscope / Scope from magazine articles and Cct. diagrams, we had some home-made ones in use on the benches, for fault finding. - . I used Ex Gov. parts which I had sourced from a shop in Leeds, it was an Aladdins - Cave and packed to the doors with spares, so always busy. It even had it's own Ex Gov. Store - Room smell. - I was about to start and build a six-inch diam. Scope' using the VCR-90 type C.R.T. - but never did make it.
During the 1950's and 1960's the popular hobby was home construction, such as valve Amplifiers (amps) , Scopes, powerful Guitar valve - amps and world wide transmitters / reciever rigs, you had to obtain a G.P.O. Lic. for the latter. - hence the busy Leeds' shop. - A well known hobby magazine was 'Practical Wireless' which had all the circuit diagrams and features , articles one may need. The Mullard 3 -3 and 5 - 10watt valve amps gave you quality sound to play your 78 and 33 rpm Vinyl records of the day, with good speakers and a turn table that is.
Around 1956-57 : I met my little Lass ( 5' 2" ) , Barbara in a 'Cellar' one Sunday afternoon, she was with a couple of her mates and looked stunning in her Clog Boots. Fish Net tights and Flat Cap, together we help make up our 'crowd' of around ten. I knew she was interested in me, as she kept throwing me casual glances thru' the smoke-filled cellar, unfortunately, I missed it due to the fog . She then gave me the 'Eye', but I gave it her back, as that would have then left her with only one, her Glass one, it's nice to be considerate I think .
Our crowd used to meet in the basement of a three-storey terraced house, from the front door entrance it was a two - storey house on a level street, but due to the steep hill, (Eldon St.- North) the rear of the house showed three floors, hence we had a large day-lit basement with it's own window. In order to gain access to our ‘local club’ , always on a Sunday afternoon, we had to go through a kitchen full of adults drinking Tea, and down some stone steps. However, our numbers soon grew to about twenty to twenty-five bodies.
We met up to listen to records and even had the benefit of a 'Tea Chest-String Bass' and a Guitar joining in with the music as we shuffled about, the guitar became two, so noise grew more. - A couple of our Lads formed a Skiffle Group, with others, called 'The Moonshiners' and known of around the Barnsley area. - No Drugs Reqd. or even heard of, we just relaxed and enjoyed our life as it was at the time, memories, the good old days.
Every Saturday evening a full coach left Barnsley for Wakefield, about 9 miles away, to go to The Embassy or Unity Clubs for a bash and a 'couple' of drinks. - It cost three shillings , 15 p return coach fare and 'Three Bob' (15p) to go into the two clubs. You had a Passout stamped on the back of your hand, (if you wanted to leave) to do a Pub check ! . - We saw the Top Bands / Groups of the day such as Chris Barber with Ottilie Patterson his snger, Lonie Donegan, Ackerbilk and Humphrey Littleton. - Later Barbara and I became Engaged, why I don't know, as I had done nothing wrong.
But then started the long hard slog of having to save up for our Wedding & Honeymoon, and a deposit for a House.We knew of only one person who owned a car, - (a huge American Ford V/8 Pilot ) and only one telephone owner, in my Inlaws street, in Kingstone, Barnsley.. I had a Bike and we walked it to work or Buses, and short Train journeys to Leeds, Wakefield or Sheffield (half day shopping) for transport to get about.
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This meant a Four Year wait to bring our Wedding plans to fruition, with a two year gap in monies when I served my National Service time Nov 1958 to Nov 1960. My pay at the time was a mere £1-40 per week (or 28 Shillings in 'old - money'). Eqv. to 20 pence per day (at that time) . The Army is a 24hr job, so that means less than One Pence per hour. - Later I was lucky enough to receive another 30 Pence / per week , (eqv to 6 old shillings ) for a 'Stripe' as a Lance - Corporal, . / or an N.C.O / non commissioned Officer / also an X3 skilled tradesman / Sig. Tech. Lt. - Royal Corps of Signals. - I then picked up a new responsibility, that of being in full charge of a Barrack Room with 20 men during peace time, they were a good group of lads from all walks of life, but all went well with with full respect and zero confrontations.
The Royal Corps of Signals is a huge Garrison based at Catterick Camp, just 3 miles south of Richmond in North Yorkshire. It has Vimy Lines as 1/T.R. for the Basic Training, Square Bashing etc. then 4/T.R for our Trade Training part. It was a desolate area and freezing cold in the winter and no picnic, being out on the Parade / Drill square, lined up in the dark at 6am under Flood Lights with marching about plus carrying out rifle drills. Now this is a real leveller for sorting out the 'Mummies Darlings' from the 'Hard Nuts' from London and Glasgow. (We had one or two) but we were all in the same boat, you simply just 'had' to all muck in together, as regards aggression or arrogance, - as we did, otherwise, may your God help you. The idea of this I sumise, is to Break your Spirit but retain your Will Power . .
At Catterick icy winds didn't go round you, they went through you – especially on an icy square in November. The camp was one of two Notorious Hard Bull camps, the other being Aldershot. Here we had 6 weeks of rifle drill / square bashing, then Rifle Range tests, followed by a huge Ceremonious Passing Out Parade. Then it was a 10 month Trade Training course on most Transmitters & Receivers involving 1 week of Theory followed by a week of Practical time on each type. e.g. tuning and finding pre-set faults as laid by the Instructor . - . this I enjoyed a lot.
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- # - Just as a bit of a nice memory / interest : We had 5 Ghurkha soldiers with us for the 10 mths course, a L/Cpl and 4 good Men / Lads. - they were all fluent in English. The Corporal went forward to the front, at the end of every session and fully explained, in their own language, any odd query or doubts covering what had been said. - The Ghurkhas have always gone to the front - for the U.K. in many conflicts, earnig them Thirteen Victoria Cross Medals. such as Iraq, Kosovo, The Second World War and Afghanistan. They made a massive impact in helping our British Forces re-take the Falklands in 1982, the Argentinians actually ran the other way in terror, when they got wind of a Ghurkha attack . .
- # - They didn't even receive a Correct Full British Army Pension - until 1997 when it was given a respectful adjustment ! ! . - Then someone higher up, 'deemed' to think they were available to do our Guard Duties, at night, or a weekend, (as we all did Guard duties, as and when told) - The Ghurkha L/cpl asked to see our top Commanding Officer, and he told him outright " we are not over here (as visitors , guests) to do your Guard Duties, take them off ", and got away with it and they were all taken off / excused all of it. ! ! They would then, like us, have had a posting anywhere in the World and gladly fight / serve with Honour . . They had a permanent smile on their face, but untouchable and as Hard as a Rock, we all gave them full respect , and often enjoyed a Pint or two with them . . (1959)
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Following my training, I was then posted as a L/Cpl. Sig. Tech, Lt. to the 3rd Royal Horse Artillery Regiment at Perham Down in Tidworth (near Andover and the Salisbury Plains) – missing going out to Singapore for 13 months, by the toss of a coin, in the Postings Office in front of a jovial Officer, my mate from Liverpool won. Some of the Signal Techs went out to Germany and Cyprus.
I was one of three Signal Techs. attached to the 3rd R.H.A. Regiment as technical support, for all the Transmitters and Recievers used within the Regiment. The equip. was fitted in Land Rovers, 3-Ton Lorries - ( Bedford - RL / 4wd ) , and the powerful 6-wheel Saracen Armoured vehicles. Once again due to my rank, I was put in charge of a Barrack Room of lads as regards standards, order and a room fit for any inspections.
While at Catterick and Tidworth my runing improved, and I was soon good enough to be chosen to represent the Royal Signals team, then the Army Northern Command team.. ( 1 and 3 mile track events ) - it was here at Tidworth that I came 2nd in the 3rd RHA - Cross Country race (Nov - 1959), and later to Win it in the Nov. of 1960. I was now running alongside Elite County Standard runners (very fit and fast) – who, like me, had been caught up in the National Service call-up net – but this pushed me on, as they were my 'Pace Makers' . - One of my running mates was a 2nd Lt Ian Jacks, he soon told me, "on the track, it's Ian" , so not the usual automatic Sir, a nice chap.
All in all, I enjoyed my National Service days, finding it a unique experience, with my running and the Comradery with all sorts of individuals. Those two years flew by – but remain memorable days, akin to a nice beach on St. Lucia, or a good race ran well.. .. The 2 year Natioal Service call up was compulsory from 1947 until early 1961, the last serviceman leaving in 1963. - I think it applied to the Army and the R.A.F. only if they had vacancies in specific trades. Anyone could 'sign up / join for 3 or more years, in the Navy or other choices.
During my time at Tidworth, nr. Andover, Hamfs. I volunteered for a 3 week Outward Bound, or Leadership Training Course on the 'Brecon Beacons', S, Wales in the snow, early February of 1960. - Now this is the S.A.S. training area, and we ended up in the last three days, covering a 75 mile Trek from Aberystwyth, over the Black Mountains and Elan Valley area down to the Beacons via Pen Y' Fan (the highest peak at 2,907 feet), one of our check points, to our Base Camp at Senny Bridge, being taken up in lorries with kit and maps and left.
This was an elating outdoor experience for me. The leader in charge of making decisions for a team of four, changed daily (the 'bosses' kept the four young officers as a unit on their own, for certain reasons). I was very comfortable with the conditions and intense map reading, which was an integral part of the course, even one's survival. We used large scale Ordinance Survey maps and Prismatic Compass work for positioning – I had done map reading and compass work before when I was in the Guernsey Sea Scouts in the 1950's.
Out here, in the snow, it would be a bad experience if you did get lost, we saw a Helicopter more than once, keeping a check on us, as there had been a fatality the year before. We carried a heavy pack, spare boots, food and a heavy Para' - Sleeping Bag each and tents. - For interest, we did 'cross-paths', alight on / surprise two Army men being pursued by others, if caught they would have been tortured to divulge a pass word. That is all they would tell us, with other experiences , but no actual details obviously.. All in a 5/6 mins chat then they fled ! !
During my second year of National Service, with the 3rd RHA, I approached our troop officer and asked if I could take my Driving Test in the army, as I believed this was legal and covered me after my N.S. time I allready had a Provisional Driving Lic, he said "thats fine, and you take a month of tuition, using the Land Rover". This did not mean full days, but only 3 -4 hrs apprx / day.
I was pleased with the outcome. it involved days on the roads, with instructors and some night cross - country driving on Salisbury Plains, with No lights, just following the small Convoy Light under the back axle of the one in front of you. The lead vehicle was the only one allowed headlights on to see, so led the way and we all followed.
. I even had a practice, with the officer's permission, in a 6 wheel Saracen armoured vehicle, (as used in N.Ireland) during a 3 day scheme on the Plains. My mate, 'Brummie' Rose, the proper competent driver, soon showed me how to use the small 6 gear pre-selector, on the right, for the automattc drive, no incline was too steep for the huge 6 wheels. It was a very nice drive, or cabbie, as we called it, obviously this could not have happen on any normal public road.
. While on / or in, the Saracen theme, during a night scheme, the young Officer calls down to me, "do you know exactly where we are Cpl Exley" ? as regards map and true position, (at night). He had noticed I was always looking at the large scale ordinance survey map, so I told him our Correct Location. This happened more than once, I had free time if no work had to be done, (fine tuning or a breakdown) so I enjoyed my map reading and helping with all the camouflaging around dawn for our 3rd RHA mates.
When we came to the 100 mile drive, to Bristol and back, I was getting into my usual Land Rover and a seven foot Sergeant bellows "get in that Bedford 3 Tonner lorry, now" , I said "I don't drive those Sarge" so he shouts back, " you do now boy", so Mr Blex obeys and off we went.
. I finished up passing my Full Test , by choice, in the 3 Ton Bedford RL, 4WD lorry, from me closing my cab door, it was a running commentary to a Captain examiner. This covered all signage we saw, why I was changing gears and all my observations. If I went quiet he soon prompted me to continue. (2-Passed and 2 men Failed that day) - So this now meant that I could legally drive a Land Rover or 3 ton Lorry on a public road, or have a cabbie on a scheme, day or night, with an Officers' say so, I was not an army driver as such. I was a L/Cpl. Signal Tech - X2 tradesman.
. Sometimes I had to get a written Pass in a black wallet, to go to get more spares from a R.EM.E. base several miles away, and for some strange reason the back of the Lorry attracted 4 to 6 mates riding Shot-Gun, like a Magnet. We had to stop some times to sample the food quality at Lorry road side cafes and their huge Mixed Grills. Pubs were out of bounds of course, as common sense prevailed. I could be stopped at any time by the Army or civilian Police, for no reason , just to check my Authorisation etc - (the Docs. in the Black Wallet).
At this time in the late 1950's we went to Wakefield or Sheffield City Hall and saw many of the well known Artists of the day, covering Jazz, Rock and Roll and others. These were Ella Fitzgerald, Chris Barber, Lonnie Donegan, a member of his Band, (Rock Island Line) and Ottilie Patterson his singer, John Dankworth and Cleo Lane, Charlie Parker and his American Jazz All Stars. We were very lucky to see them all, including Dizzy Gillespie, George Shearing, (Brilliant) Bill Haley, Dave Brubeck Quartet . Plus ''Humph'' or Humphrey Littleton (Bad Penny Blues) and Acker Bilk (Strangers on The Shore)
I saw Dave Brubeck twice, once in Newcastle and at the City Hall Sheffield with Miss Babs, One Wednesday I knew he was in Newcastle for that day while touring, so Mr Blex thinks, I will hitch - hike up from Catterick camp to see him Live,, on our 'free afternoon' a Wed. Sports- day when you could choose to go Swimming, Table Tennis, Football, Rugby or Walking (in the country) so I did a walk, part of the way up the A1 Northwards to see my show. ! (Without an absence or On- Leave Pass, a bit silly) .
During the late 1950's and 1960's it was a common sight on major roads, to see Army and R.A.F. lads thumbing lifts by Car or Lorries, to get home, or back to camp on a weekend Pass or longer. I had lifts in a Rolls Royce, a lone Chauffer heading back up North, a posh Jaguar, and some smart Sport Cars, one a pale Blue M.G. Midget sports car, driven by a nice Blonde girl, she had spotted my Uniform and the L/Cpl stripe, she could spot the High- Rollers on £1-70 per week.
So she had to stop to pick me up as they say, she opened the door and whispered " come in Corparal and sit in the warm, by me. " - I think thats what she said - ? . ( Mr Blex - dreams - on - and on ) . The lift was True. - It was easy from Catterick to home, but long and tiring from Salisbury Plains (Tidworth) , I was always lucky as regards weather and getting soaked. - Lorry drivers and the chauffer said they liked the company, as it kept them awake. .
, We then got married at St Edwards Church, Kingstone, Barnsley - on 24/3/62 - (both at 24 yrs old) and went to Torquay for our Honeymoon via The Royal Oxford Hotel - over night stay, to break the journey. We hired a nearly new, Austin A40 - Ferina car at £7.00 per wk. . - . Then came the house purchase, we went for a 'luxury' end terrace house with (wait for it!) -: No Central Heating, Bathroom and No Double Glazing ! - But we did have a posh Outside Toilet in the back garden and a Tin Bath to be used in front of a fire! We had the distinction of having four 100 yr old Victorian Fireplaces, as coal was so cheap. They were in each small room and handy for the cold winters, or if anyone was ill in bed.
.It was a veritable 'Two-Up, Two-Down' as they say. but we did have each other. for this 10 mths period. Now in todays' modern times, you have the toilet inside the house and eat outside, we knew how to choose our Luxury £800 first time home !! The good Old Days as they say.
While working at Isherwoods, I saw a job advertised for 'Calibration Engineers' in Guernsey, with a company called Tektronix Ltd. , a huge American company with Sites / Plants already in Portland, Oregon in N.America, Holland and now also based in Guernsey . . They chose to move into Guernsey, a part of the U.K. but independent - like Jersey and the Isle of Man having their own Tax and Judical Laws. So as a legal loophole, they avoided high Import / Export Duties & Taxes due to the U.K. and also pay a much lower 'Guernsey Tax Rate' on all profits - a calculated and very shrewd move on their part. .
Tektronix were currently building their full range of Oscilloscopes and Peripherals here now, so as I had already made my own 'Scope' I wrote off for an Interview and managed to sail through it and offered a job. To cap it all, we had a Free Hol in Guernsey at one of the best Hotels for 3 days regardless, on a Tektronix a/c.
At this point in time Miss Babs said with some caution , " how do you know you can even do the Job ? " I said, if they / the interviewers offer me a position on what I say and on paper / job history / C.V. etc, - truthfully and no Bluffs or Lies etc - I will be o/k. . I had made an Oscilloscope so no probs. and all went well. - 'If you try you might' as they say.
- The same applied with my Book 'Guernsey - Coinage' , I knew it would sell, as it did , with no backing cash in the Bank - It sold 400 in the first week locally, in Guernsey and World Wide from a 1,000 first edition in Dec 1968 . then later a reprint of 1,000 - to incl. decimals also Sold out . The Guernsey Press printing dept. had kindly offered me a 6 monthly 50% payment deal. So it paid its' own way thru' .
Mr & Mrs Blex now fly South
So Babs and I make the move down to Guernsey, in December 1962, after getting married that March , making a profit of £150 on the house sale. - We had all expenses paid by Tektronix, all selling and removal fees and free flat rental until we bought our next house, to be only 500 yds and a 10 mins. walk from the Tektronix Plant site. in La Villiaze, St Andrews . - . Guernsey is one of the Seven Ch. Isles with Jersey, Alderney, Sark, Herm, Jethou and Brecqhou / or Brechou - a Private Island west off Sark and owned by the twin brothers - Sirs David & Frederuck Barclay and families..
I was now working in the Calibration Dept. on the full range of Oscilloscopes and Plug Ins, working to the 'Finite' Tek.Standards as per detailed Cal. procedures, to ensure perfect conformity.. Such as the 545A & B, 576 Curve Tracers, 547, also a huge 555, 561A & B, - 564 Storage Scope ( C.R.T. ) the mini 310, and 502A as used in Heart - Operations so critical in a Theatre, ( 1963-'71 build ) , they all looked superb and were acclaimed World Wide as the Rolls Royce of 'Scopes' .
After a while, I became a Q.C. Eng. and later a part of a training group for new employees, with Joe Guerin and Den Bott. We also formed a Trouble Shooting section, clearing time-consuming faults, where some Engineers were stuck. - One day two Supervisors called me into the office and said " how do you find faults so quickly ? " - I said "all I can say is, by the first symptoms, I now know where the fault isn't, then the screen / tube or C.R.T. tells me the other half of a fix." - Just experience and job knowledge. A good Car-Mech. will do the same..
At Tektronix, Guernsey the factory of about 300 employees worked in Unit Wiring, Assembly lines and many other departments. We actually built the Oscilloscope mainframe on site and it's variations of Plug Ins from imported parts. These arrived as required, via London, Gatwick from the parent company in Portland, Oregon in America, they had another Tektronix plant in Heerenveen, Holland and now this Tek factory only 10 mins from the tiny Guernsey airport and built near it's perimeter. ( at La Villiaze, St. Andrews parish )
Girls made a complex wiring harness, on a coded-loom like a spider's web, of multi- coloured wires, white with pink, green, blue, or red sripes , all to an excact layout. These were then wired to ceramic sections of 10 to 20 solder points, so all the components and parts were connected.
. This was the Unit Wiring process . with an 'Eyeball Examination' for accuracy, neat soldering to all components. etc. etc. Then a Pre - Cal. was done, just a pre-lim check , after many tests, so it did not blow up or burn out with a first switch - on. - Then all units had a 'Life -Test. run for 24 hrs, switching on and off in a special enclosure. Then a Full Calibration , apprx 1 to 3hrs followed by a repeat, by the Q.C Engineer with a full written report. ( marks out of a 100 ) - This could affect your salary, wage rises, or promotion, so based on the critical findings of your work output. Managems and Supervisors also saw all this , and so recordered .
. We even had an Audit Dept. who could do a random 100% or a 33% selection check (re-Q.C. not all items) of any Oscillscope, so a check on that QC man, it just Had to be perfect. If they found a Major Error, say a missing tiny link or un-soldered joint and missed by the Cal man and QC Eng, then that QC man could be warned or demoted with change of salary etc. Only then could it be boxed and shipped out to a customer, so meeting all Specs. as per the Manual, that was the Tek. standards, as it should be..
. Finally, (without pushing the limits of boredom levels) , a C.S.P / 1. or Conformity-Sample-Procedure / 1 , The peak of Standards Policy for Adherence, was introduced for all our Q.C. men. / - e.g. - If a Q.C. man was seen to 'always' produce 100% work, the Management, for time / efficiency, (costs) said to Audit , now Only do a third - Cal/check - on His Work, but at any random start point. After a warm up, start at say step 140, up to step 24 of a 174 steps (or 58 checks) of a full Cal / QC action. He could only earn this after 12 X Perfect 100% Audits (your wage was better too) Now if Audit found 'any' error in this one third check, he was off the C.S.P. 1 and back on 100% . Again, if you slipped further, you were put back onto Calibrating Only, with Loss of monies ! ! The standards expected were so high, as a customer paid a Very High Premium for a Tektronix product. so expected only Perfection. .
. They were trusted, like a Spirit Level worldwide ! So we had 4 stages - Pre Cal, Full Cal, a Full QC and maybe, an Audit check of any random third steps,, but not all items. So no one could take a gamble, or miss steps in any way. I read of an example of a rouge Guided Missile coming down in the North Sea and on a full trace of cause, on recovery, it turned out to be a Calibration error. (recorded)
I have often spotted them in background scenes of Technical or Labs, on Films and Television.We stayed in Guernsey for seven years and we loved every minute of it. Those seven years saw the birth of our two sons (1964 and 1966) and so as you can imagine, we spent all of our spare time on the beaches with our Boys, or eating out at fine, but affordable resturants with good menus and Table-Side cooking etc.
While we were in Guernsey I wrote my book, 'Guernsey Coinage' - 2nd Jan. / 1968 - a Historical and Numismatic monograph, it was a World First and reviewed in The Times , small books section in Dec 1968, my collection now sits safely in a Guernsey Museum. Tektronix being a small company was a very relaxed but efficient work place and highly thought of by the Guernsey people.
In the shops, you worked at Tektronix, Techtronics or Text-Tronixt for a purchase. We had a twice yearly profit share of 4 - 9% of wages earned over 6mths, this was Tax Free, as you had to deal correctly with the local Tax Office for all incomes. There is no V.A.T. or a N.H.S. in Guernsey either. To put it into perspective our Rates (or Council Tax / per mth - U.K. ) , was only £13 per. yr for for 'Aysgarth' a Bungalow in the country lanes, an unfurnished flat advertised at Tektronix Ltd at £3 per week ! ! - ( 1962 - '69 )
. * . Spotted today - 14/09/2021 - Header on the PONY WALK CARD - [below] - Textronic - so 5 versions now. All the Guernsey staff loved Tek. for its very good rate of pay and Profit Sharing scheme, being better than working in a Hot Greenhouse picking Tomatoes or a Shop counter. The good atmosphere was talked about all around the island, with some thinking we even made Televisions. !
Every summer a 'Tek. Picnic' took place for all, including families and 30 to 40 local deserving children, who were shared out to Tek families , all food and sensible Drinks being provided, with the crossing fares. It took about 20 minutes to get to the delightful island of Herm. 3 mies off St Peter Port harbour, a ' Miss Tektronix' Pageant was also held, the winner had the usual Sash the Cup and a nice Dinner for two on Tek , at a Top Resturant . - An atmosphere of old - world Normandy still prevails in this Sunshine Island. .
Halfway through the morning, while sunbathing on the Shell Beach, (next to Belvoir Beach) a gorgeous Shocking Pink. Catamaran glides round the rocks, it had WAHOO on the side and looked straight out of a James Bond film. My work mate Barry Despres, also a Calibration Eng. had just finished building it from scratch with his father. He casually strolls up the beach and from the first large Cool-Box I had seen, then takes out a White Wine and a Chicken salad, talk about Panache (one of our Pony-Walkers)
We saw an advert for THE PONY WALK, a Pony being a popular Guernsey Bottle Beer, so for a laugh we entered a Tektronix team and did the walk, with other works teams. You had a Free 'Half' or a bottle, at every point around the Island and the Landlords then signed you in. I would 'Guess-timate' our Walk, with Libations, was apprx 15 miles. It was an apprx.10-30am start, at St Sampson Harbour on the N.E. coast of Guernsey, one of the two, and a 3-30 pm finish. So at 5 Hrs duration at a 3 mph, average walking speed , so supports our c15 miles covered.
I now needed a car, the First in my Life - for transport - Dec 1962, - to get around the small Island, 'hiding' 300 miles in the Labrynth, or Maze, of tiny lanes. Guernsey has a coast line of only 24 miles and 3 miles across from the harbour of St Peter Port to Vazon Bay on the West coast. My first car in my life was an Austin A30, Reg plate as 350 only, a few years later a M.G. 1100, (Reg 7015) and twin S.U. Carbs. - Now Miss Babs learns to drive and passes her Driving Test 1st time, and is soon nipping about the Island.
The max speed allowed is only 30 mph anywhere, with 10 or 20 mph near the town, Jersey is 40 mph as a max. speed. You could easily get lost in the maze of inner short run lanes like Cornwall, plus most signs are in French, so many visitors in Hire Cars come to grief. - As regards prices of essentials (ref. to hand) re a Tourist Map of Guernsey in 1972, via a hotel, from Bucktrouts Cigarette Company Ltd. , while on a Texas to Tek. Course, / Dufftown Glenlivet - Whisky @ £2.60 per bottle ! ! - Cigarettes between £2 / £3.00 for a 200 Pack, There was apprx 35 - 40,000 Guernsey residents during 1960 '70 - (guess-timate) , then later a 2017 Census - of 65,000 people . .
It was no wonder we felt o/k as regards Inflation, Eating Out, no V.A.T etc. plus low Income Tax & House Rates . - C 'est la Vie
Around the Autumn of 1969, whilst playing Darts, (See my ref link to Darts , Bobby George and The Horseshoes Pub ) we met two Managers from 'Texas Instruments Ltd' , Bedford. also a huge American company, with sites in Dallas and Lubbock, America, Nice / France, Friesing / Germany and one in Italy.,We thought they were on business or holiday, but it turned out that they had come over to Tektronix for a course on our products, as they were widely used back at Texas Instruments These managers wanted to 'Poach' one us, there and then, no interview needed, just our knowledge and experience, on the systems we worked on and knew inside out. You can get back to here from The Horseshoes Pub, if you went to Darts at The Horseshoes pub, or a Dart Player.
So, I took the gamble, after serious thought, with Barbara, and moved back to the U.K. and Texas, enabling us to see our parents more and to give our two sons a better chance of access to varied employment in the future. But I never really left Guernsey as whilst I was at Texas Instruments, I was lucky enough to return back to Guernsey six times, for New Product retraining courses.
These covered the New 7,000 series and Sampling systems, both quite complex and fast, so now used by our Design Teams all over the production areas and top security departments. [re Colin Hinson and my Index Page & Blunham.com] I was now employed in running the company Computerised Calibration Department, or repairs, back to their original Factory Standards as new. Engineers used them as a pass or fail of a product, like a 'Spirit Level' it's got to be trusted.. So used around the Texas Site, for Testing or the design of New Product .
This involved another highly qualified Standards Engineer, Bob Coton, an eng. of the highest calibre, who I would place in the top four in the U.K. We were sometimes in contact with the National Physical and Standards Lab at Teddington, London, and one of only four in the world, for the Retention of standards, the Volt and Yard etc. , other sites being in Paris, America and Canada. They checked our ten Standard Voltage Cells. for finite accuracy to National Standards. I will now cease my jottings for 'boredom level', I could expand, but No.
While I was at Texas Inst ltd, I took up my passion for running, with the 10mile and Half Marathons, completing about thirty. Then Squash, Chess, being Press Ganged into running them. I also put our company team of athletes into the Annual Bedford Half Marathon for many years. Texas provided smart running vests in a different colour each time, plus our entry fees.
As regards Chess, I organised a visit by Jim Plaskett who is a Bedford and U.K Chess Master, to make a free guest visit for our Open Day. He took on apprx 20 of the Texas staff who could play, all at the same time. He was in a large square of tables and just strolled round inside, opening first, being White, so his move ..
He beat us all easily, either by his fast genius moves, to a 'Check Mate' , or a 'Decline' by us, (lay your King down) , being put in a mental Half Nelson. The Last man Standing, or our best player, was a 14yr old schoolboy, a son of one of our team. The chessman, Jim Plaskett remarked to me, "the boy is a good young player, I had to think" - his visits to our tables only took 5 to 20 seconds at the most ..
To put my memories into perspective , we were working in fast changing times , as we now know today, the whole onboard computer science on the Moon landing rocket, can now be put into a Mobile Phone or an Apple Smart Watch. ! all due to fhe rapid changes in Micro - Technology. re- Para. 3. my Index page. (Colin Hinson)
Our fellow employees came from all over the U.K. to take part in the annual Bedford Run of 13 miles, I reduced my time of 1 hr 45mins for my first one, down to 1 hr 32 mins, now a good time for a Veteran, over a few years. You can not compete with 20 year olds doing sub 6 min miles. The Chess nights actually took our mediocre team into H.M. Prison, Bedford, being arranged by our senior management, We went in, of our own volition but this I bitterly regretted afterwards, for several reasons .
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Visit a Bygone Guernsey - c1830's to 1969 .* . Fully Protected by Copyright Law - 1968 & 2022
Last revision made by Bill Exley on - 25th Oct -2022