David belongs to: The Doxford Engine Friends Association
David was born in Sunderland. He served his apprenticeship at North East Marine shipyards as a fitter. After working at sea David became an Assistant Manager at Doxford's ship yard overseeing the installation and testing of Doxford engines.
David was interviewed by Carl Greenwood on 8 November 2005. The interview took place at the Interviewee's living room and lasted 1 hour, 36 minutes and 40 seconds.
Apprenticeship at North East Marine
"Well, you started work at, you worked five and a half days, five days a week and Saturday morning was not over time, Saturday morning was Saturday morning"
Well, you started work at, you worked five and a half days, five days a week and Saturday morning was not over time, Saturday morning was Saturday morning. And you started work at half past seven and you finished work at half past five and I went by my bike- I used to bicycle to work, morning and night, and it certainly, if work was very busy in the factory, building the engines, billing the steam engines, you worked night shift on every third week, you would work night shift.
And if you were, the company was very keen on education and they really pressed apprentices to do night classes and get national certificates and things like this, and took the fact that they actually paid them a little bit more and they gave prizes and things, and the better apprentices took this up of course, but the lazy ones didnít bother too much and the only, the only concession you were given to that was if you were going to night classes, you were allowed to leave the factory 15 minutes earlier than everybody else. You lost 15 minuteís pay, of course, but you were allowed to go earlier so you got on the bus quicker and you could get out of the docks before the crowd, you see.
So, and I used to do night classes three times a week, and if you were on night shift, you would go to night classes in the evening, and you would come out of night classes at half past nine, go home, have your supper, put your boiler suit on, go down and work at night from half past 10 to half past seven, something like that.
We were building steam engine- triple expansion steam engines and an apprentice would be apprentice to one particular fitter- he would work with that one fitter, and I was with a fellow called Bob, Bob Wandless and we, our job, between this fitter and myself, we built all the pistons- the pistons, the piston rings and the pistons would come out of the machine shop and we would fit all the studs, and scrape it all, and fit it and fit the piston rings and then eventually fit the piston into the engine in the erecting shop here. Other apprentices might be doing shafting or they might be doing bearings or connecting rods.
You moved around- you didnít do the same job all the time- it was a five year apprenticeship, so you would move around doing different jobs but I was always in the erecting shop. Other apprentices might have been in the machine shop, or the valve shop, or something like that, because the factory didnít just build steam engines, it built everything that was in the, everything that was in the shipís engine room, including the boilers.
So that was the five years, having said that I didnít really put the whole five years in because doing the night classes again, I suppose I worked hard and I got good results and I was offered a scholarship by Durham University. And the company gave me permission to, you know, at the time that you were doing this apprentice, being at college counted, it was like equivalent, so I did that and well, it was three year degree course in those days, it became a four year degree course later on, but it was a three year degree course.
And as time went by, when I got to the final year, I had finished my apprenticeship- they didnít quite link together, so I had to finish my apprenticeship before I finished getting my degree, so I had another year to go. And so I thought well, rather than go back to the factory and work as a fitter, Iíll try and go to sea and get a little bit of time in. And I opted to look for a job as an engineer on the coast, just up and down the North Sea coast not far from home because I had to come back and do the final academic year.
David has 17 memories in the memorynet:
David's memories with a The North East theme:
- Apprenticeship at North East Marine
- Returning to the North East and Doxford's
- Going on sea trials
- North East Marine Guide for Apprentices
- Sea Trials
David's other memories: