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GEC Copsewood (Telephone Works, Stoke)

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K
Somewhere
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1 of 42  Fri 25th Nov 2011 3:33pm  
Member: Joined Nov 2011  Total posts:604

I haven't seen a topic raised about GEC Telephone Works, now, I gather totally defunct. How about it folks? When I was there (1962-8), in Section B892, hte Trunk Radio Lab, (I have two or three photos inside it still) there were 11,000 employees on that site alone, 17,000 total in Coventry. I find its demise hard to understand, but there you are. How about the "smoky bacon" smell from the ebonite shop? And the manufacture of Parker pen barrels/nib units there? I remember an incident where someone jumped off the aerial tower in 1963, as I recall; he hit the feeder bridge above the Terminal Room where I worked at the time. (Not sure we should say much about it, might be a bit too poignant still) At that time, early 1960s, the machine shop still had its overhead drives for the machines; there were a large number of belt-driven Swiss Mikron lathes. I also recall a 250 ton power press, which was used to bend up the 19 inch rack sides. There were many practical jokes perpetrated in those days, facilitated by the staff pay phones dotted around; anyone using them to call someone "inside" was calling through the main switchboard, as if it was an outside call. I also remember when anyone had a cold, they could go to the surgery, where the nurse doled out a quinine pill. It made you feel great for about 4 hours; but when you went home afterwards, you felt really rotten!
GEC Copsewood (Telephone Works, Stoke)
PhilipInCoventry
Holbrooks
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2 of 42  Fri 25th Nov 2011 3:37pm  
Moderator: Joined Apr 2010  Total posts:4034

I had a school holiday job at the Stoke GEC. I worked in both the Transmission stores and also the Automatic Exchange lab stores. I remember Mr. Frank Miller (still alive) & Mr.Stead. Thumbs up Dates 1962 to 1964.
GEC Copsewood (Telephone Works, Stoke)
Midland Red

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3 of 42  Fri 25th Nov 2011 3:38pm  
Moderator: Joined Jan 2010  Total posts:4270

There's a great site at http://www.telephoneworks.co.uk/
GEC Copsewood (Telephone Works, Stoke)
PhilipInCoventry
Holbrooks
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4 of 42  Fri 25th Nov 2011 3:58pm  
Moderator: Joined Apr 2010  Total posts:4034

I remember the twelve-o-clock dash to the works canteen where I tasted my first ever roast beef dinner served with chips. When recently reminiscing with my Pam about this great event, the following weekend she served up a full roast beef dinner with chips. What a pip! Wave
GEC Copsewood (Telephone Works, Stoke)
K
Somewhere
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5 of 42  Fri 25th Nov 2011 4:00pm  
Member: Joined Nov 2011  Total posts:604

I remember a lot of the guys, and the secretary. The head of department when I started was Bernard Wilson, replaced by Ernest H...mind's gone blank, then an Aussie, Harry Hyamson. Teh chief administrator was Jim Stove (known as "leave it with me"); then four sub-heads, Graham Twinn, Mike De Belin, plus two whose names I've forgotten. Eddie da Silva, tom Doughty, John Penlington, Adam Olinkiewicz. I worked for a very interesting Polish guy, Feliks Chustecki, for a couple of years. he'd been taken prisoner by the Russians when they invaded Poland, managed to escape, and somehow walking and hitching lifts, got to Britain, where he joined the Free Polish Air Force, and became a Spitfire pilot. He told many stories of that time, including one where he said he remembered his flying instructor telling him that he should treat the joystick in the Spit "as if he were fondling a woman's nipple." Lol Then there was Frank Moss, who had been bomb aimer on a Wellington in the Western Desert. He told a story about how they were in trouble and he dropped his bombs in the middle of the desert. John Sinclair, Bill Nicklin, Tom Mann, Audrey Braddock in the stores, John Stanfield, Tony Teesdale, Jim Porter, and a whole variety of others. I remember a practical joke where someone exchanged the secretary's phone dial for a New Zealand one (0,1,...9, instead of 1,2,... 9,0) She kept dialling wrong numbers, and went in to Jim Stove and told him. He came out of his office, tried her phone, and he got wrong numbers too. Then he dialled his office number, realised the dial was wrong, didn't realise it was a joke, and made her a conversion chart..... Lol Happy days!
GEC Copsewood (Telephone Works, Stoke)
MisterD-Di
Sutton Coldfield
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6 of 42  Fri 25th Nov 2011 4:10pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2011  Total posts:905

My father worked at GEC for over 50 years. Most of the time he was at Helen Street where he ran the employees' shop. He did spend some of his time at Stoke, and after he retired he was also in the shop there. My memories are of the GEC Christmas parties in the Social Club. Lots of jelly and ice cream in the canteen, then a show afterwards. Was it Uncle Mac who was the compere? As for the person who jumped off the tower, I recall that for different reasons. The man was the father of a lad in my class at KHVIII. (I won't mention the name here.) The poor lad was a brilliant artist but seemed never to recover from it and I think he left soon after.
GEC Copsewood (Telephone Works, Stoke)
PhilipInCoventry
Holbrooks
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7 of 42  Fri 25th Nov 2011 4:15pm  
Moderator: Joined Apr 2010  Total posts:4034

I do not recognise any of those names, but then I was only just skivvy. A Mr.Bond was in charge of the unit & Mr. Gregson was my boss. I do remember a suicide tragedy.
GEC Copsewood (Telephone Works, Stoke)
Rob Orland
Historic Coventry
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8 of 42  Fri 25th Nov 2011 4:32pm  
Webmaster: Joined Jan 2010  Total posts:856

On 25th Nov 2011 4:00pm, KeithLeslie said: I worked for a very interesting Polish guy, Feliks Chustecki, for a couple of years.....
Oh, I can't resist responding to this one Keith! By the time I was an apprentice in the early 80s Feliks was an electronics lecturer in the training school. He wasn't our particular group's regular instructor, but he did stand in once when another chap was away. What a character he was! Wink He was famous for his stories, including the first time he took a trip on a train in this country.... Apparently, when it entered a tunnel and it all went dark, he reached his arm out of a window to find out how far it was to the side of the tunnel! Oh my He also built a 'Class A' audio amplifier, which got so hot that he constantly poured cups of water over it while it was still running! He really was one of the most memorable people I've ever met - in the nicest possible way.
GEC Copsewood (Telephone Works, Stoke)
K
Somewhere
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Thread starter
9 of 42  Fri 25th Nov 2011 5:02pm  
Member: Joined Nov 2011  Total posts:604

Hi Rob Wave I have a never to be forgotten image of Feliks in my mind. At lunchtime he would sit there on a bench and tell us stories, in his dark blue suit, dark blue tie, which he wore outside his yellow cardigan, chomping a really crusty roll (you know the sort!!), with the crumbs and chunks of crust cascading all down his front.. It was like a snowstorm when he got up! Big grin Eddie da Silva took over from Feliks in charge of the VHF group. Eddie had some stories too! He was half Portuguese, half Chinese, lived in HK during the war, and was evacuated to a nunnery on the mainland of China when the Japanese came. He told us how they made crude saw blades and used them to cut up car tyres to make shoes. He told two other stories that I can't resist telling! For some time he was a radio op on a steamer plying from Yokohama to Korea. At some point in that period, he earned money by teaching Japanese girls English - he spoke Japanese fluently. However, he discovered when he spoke Japanese to men, they fell about laughing! He discovered that Japanese use specific language when females talk to males, vice versa, and female-female, male to male...and of course, he was speaking as if a female talking to men!! Lol I also remember him going to a Chinese restaurant, in Warwick Row, tried to order in Chinese, and got in a mess. He hadn't spoken his native Chinese for ages, and he said there were four ways in Chinese to say 'char'; depending on how you said it, it meant four different things, including, as we know, tea. He said it wrongly, and ordered a cup of....old woman.....!!!!! Lol Eddie left GEC to become a university lecturer, firstly going to Blackburn Polytechnic, and then came back to Coventry, I'm not sure if it was at Uni of Warwick or Coventry Uni. Probably the latter.
GEC Copsewood (Telephone Works, Stoke)
K
Somewhere
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Thread starter
10 of 42  Fri 25th Nov 2011 5:07pm  
Member: Joined Nov 2011  Total posts:604

A name I'd forgotten...no more! It was Ernest Hickin who took over as head of the Radio Lab from Bernard Wilson. In 1966 or 7, we went out on strike for a half day, on a Friday afternoon. Ernest agreed with the strike and authorised payment of our wages! I don't know how that went down... And a few more names: Ian Presdee, Dick Bester, Alan Kimberley, Glyn Davies, Jim Carter, Dave Chilvers, Mike Bateman, Keith Smith, Dave Dawson, Barry Shiers, Mike Roden.... Remember Pat O'Byrne in the Scrap Stores? And Frank Wright, the Works "Defective"? My wife worked for John Delaney, the works photographer; also, remember Les Skingley, editor of the "Loudspeaker" magazine? I recall a guy named Nicholson, he was either foreman or superintendent on the production line., He'd been a Communist, very militant shop-steward, so they made him foreman. He became an extremely tough "poacher turned gamekeeper". A very different world! Smile
GEC Copsewood (Telephone Works, Stoke)
Rob Orland
Historic Coventry
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11 of 42  Fri 25th Nov 2011 6:48pm  
Webmaster: Joined Jan 2010  Total posts:856

Most of my GEC life in the 1980s was at Spon Street, so I didn't know very many people from the Stoke Works apart from a few brief placements during the apprenticeship around 1982-3 and three weeks spent in the Radio Lab about 1989 when trialling the then new "16 QAM" radio system. This was a brilliant system; extremely reliable, and required very few modifications from first design before being ready for final production. Unfortunately, the new director, Peter Brown, decided that radio was a product that took too much effort to build, and sold it off to Italy in favour of the easier to make SDH system. It made the company money, but was relatively boring to work on. Radio equipment was always a joy, and such an interesting and varied product to work on. But I digress.... The only two names I can recall from the Radio Lab are Cliff Lammas and a lady named Jackie Tippler. Cliff was a very nice chap - quiet, but often looked as though he carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. Maybe the stress of being a team leader? Jackie was a bit of a character, and could apparently drink most men under the table! A very clever lady though, by all accounts.
GEC Copsewood (Telephone Works, Stoke)
PhilipInCoventry
Holbrooks
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12 of 42  Fri 25th Nov 2011 8:16pm  
Moderator: Joined Apr 2010  Total posts:4034

On 25th Nov 2011 5:07pm, KeithLeslie said: .... also, remember Les Skingley, editor of the "Loudspeaker" magazine?
Hi. Les Skingley lived in the same cul-de-sac as me. He was also accupuncturist. Wave
GEC Copsewood (Telephone Works, Stoke)
K
Somewhere
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Thread starter
13 of 42  Sat 26th Nov 2011 3:07pm  
Member: Joined Nov 2011  Total posts:604

Hi Rob, Philip Cliff Lammas - yes he was there when I joined in '62. I seem to remember he had a thinnish face and jug-handle ears...? And, Phil, yes, you've triggered my memory of that. I wonder if you remember Les's car? As I guess you're aware, he had stunted leg growth (he'd been dropped as a baby, apparently), and he had to have very large blocks on the pedals, in order to drive. He had an old Riley 9 - it must have been no later than 1930 , because it had a fabric body - that had been left under trees. Leaves had dropped on the bonnet, etched through the paint, and there were these leaf-shaped rust patches... And that was the best bit! One day, he was stopped by a policeman, who did a quick inspection of the car, and promptly ordered it off the road! Les never drove again, so far as I know, afterwards. It was quite amusing, though, to watch him get out of it. He looked quite large when sitting in it, but didn't get any bigger when he got out!!! Lol There was another Les in the Radio Lab, whose surname has gone. He lived close by, and rode a bike. He was the butt of a few practical jokes, always fell for them. When we moved from the old two-storey block to the new 5-storey one, he got a cod-box, and filled it with transformers. He was going to take it to the new place, looked at his watch, said "Lunch time", left it and went home. Over lunch, someone took all the contents out and nailed the box to the floor, then put them back. Les took almost all of them out before he twigged! Lol He never took offence, though. I was in the stores queue (in the old building) one day when Ian Presdee was at the window, and asking for a part. Harry, the then storeman, went away and came back. "How many do you want?" "Two" said Ian. "But I've only got three!!" "Oh, are you different to everybody else, then, Harry?" quipped Ian. All the queue roared with laughter. Harry spluttered and stammered, and went every shade of pink and red; I've never seen anyone so embarrassed. Lol
GEC Copsewood (Telephone Works, Stoke)
DBC
Nottinghamshire
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14 of 42  Sat 26th Nov 2011 4:21pm  
Member: Joined Apr 2010  Total posts:174

I served a four-year technician's apprenticeship from 1961 to 1965. One perk we had as "second years" was to act as guides to new employees during their one-day induction. We had to give these people a short conducted tour round the various departments. I think for some school leavers this came as a bit of a shock, especially when we took them to the old machine shop and the ebonite works, with all that noise and unfamiliar smells. In the 1960's the whole place was very hierarchical with four separate canteens for different grades, and separate toilets for "staff" and hourly paid workers. The former were marked "ladies and gentlemen" and the latter "male and female". I once had a severe telling off by one of the commissionairs who manned the entrance to the main office block . I inadvertently used the door reserved for senior management on my way to the print room. I never did that again!
GEC Copsewood (Telephone Works, Stoke)
leofric
Canada
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15 of 42  Wed 20th Mar 2013 2:48pm  
Member: Joined Mar 2013  Total posts:1

Reading your memories certainly brought memories back to me. I started at GEC around 1946 and spent time in the Telephone Equipment Lab until I was of the age to become an apprentice (5-year indentured as a telephone mechanic). A Mr. Bridge was the apprentice supervisor, he had one secretary and they handled quite a number, I seem to remember a number of 400. I remember Frank Wall and Mr. Stead (he was in charge of the Lab). There were others but I cannot remember their names. There was one jokester who could give you quite an electric shock when touch on the ear. I seem to remember his static charge could get upto 3000/4000 Volts. I bought a1935 Borough Superior motor cycle from him, he had completely rebuilt the thing. The Lab looked over the square that had been leveled and tarmac after the bombing during the war. It was interesting to watch the factory workers race out of the doors on the far side of the square at lunch time, either to get first in line for the canteen food or to get one of the eight snooker tables. It was also interesting to take school leavers around the factory and it was right about the smell in the Ebonite Shop. My story about the Biro ball point pens, they had not been long on the market and were expensive, but the refill was relatively cheap, so workers in the plant started to make the bodies of the pen in house. One of the tricky stages was the 2BA left hand thread, in the whole plant there was only one in the tool stores and you had to put your name on a waiting list. The social club had quite a few activities going and I was active in the cricket and the Motor Car and Motor Cycle Club. The club ran all sorts of events during a year, treasure hunts, mystery rallies, and timed rallies. I also spent a few months in the installation Dept, working in telephone exchanges around Coventry. After I finished my apprenticeship, I was asked to go into the Publicity Dept. writing maintenance manuals on PABX Automatic Exchanges, the name Pat Halloran seems to come to mind as my Boss there. Then I was transferred to the PABX Engineering Dept. I worked there for a while until my first child arrived and we could not afford to live on my salary which was about 8 pounds 10 shillings a week. I looked for another job and was offered double at a contract drawing office. SO I LEFT GEC. I see by looking at Google satellite maps there is not much left of the old place.
Marco Polo

GEC Copsewood (Telephone Works, Stoke)

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