Jim belongs to: The Doxford Engine Friends Association
Jim was born in Sunderland in 1943. He followed his father into Doxford's. He began his apprenticeship in December 1959.
Jim was interviewed by Kylea Little on 24 January 2006. The interview took place at the Interviewee's living room and lasted 1 hour, 16 minutes and 2 seconds.
"And then a peculiar thing happened to me which really changed the way my life altered"
And then a peculiar thing happened to me which really changed the way my life altered. Jack Madison who was the foreman in the tool room had never spoken to me in the five or six months I had been there. Louis Graham had, he was the charge hand, but Jack was, you never called him Jack Madison by the way, he was always Mister, as an apprentice you had to make sure you addressed correctly otherwise you got your ears boxed. But he came in this particular, I was finishing, I was actually cleaning a machine down and I was finishing for the day and he came in and he said, “Son, I want you to come up to the tool room and work with Les Morris to finish the nine cylinder engine.”
The model of the nine cylinder engine, the one that’s in the Discovery Museum, and I said, “yes,” and he said, “you start on Monday.” And that was it, as far as the conversation was concerned.
Now, you’ve got to understand this being an annexe of the tool room, I had never had much to do with the tool room, and Les Morris was not my favourite person. I didn’t like him, he was a, what I classed as an arrogant, pompous, little man, he wasn’t, but I didn’t know that, he was just taking the Mickey out of me. But the point I’m making was that I didn’t want to go. Again, I was finishing off, I cleaned the machine down ready for the next morning, I took my overalls off, washed my hands and in waltzes Les Morris into the place and he said, “you don’t have to work with me if you don’t want to," he said, “nobody’s going to force you to work with me.” He said, “you go up in the morning and tell Jack Madison that you don’t want to work.” He said that, “no problem, no problems at all.” Now, how he knew that I didn’t want to work with him, I don’t know.
Anyway, I had a word with Bill Pearson who was the guy, he said to me, “just go home, and think about it.” He said, “you’ve got the opportunity of a lifetime here.” He said, “this man knows his job, and he’s an expert at what he does, if you can get half of his information off him, you’ll be alright for the rest of your life,” and I didn’t believe that.
So I got on the bus and my father was on the bus and I told him exactly what had happened. “Well,” he said, “you’re over 18 now,” he said, “you’re entitled to make your own, you own decisions, I’m not going to help you in any shape or form, all I’m going to say is, I would take the opportunity if it was me.” He said, “it’s entirely up to you.”
So, I made my mind up that I wasn’t going to work I was going to go in the next morning and the first person I met going in, into work the next morning was a man called Jimmy Lockey who worked in the, in the tool store with me. And he was a very funny man. He was a hilarious, he was a comic. And he, he basically said to me, “oh, you’re working with Les Morris,” you know, “you’re life is not going to be worth...” and we had all the clichés coming out, and I thought, “yes, I think you just about made my mind up- I’m not going to work with this guy.” And at the end, he said, “if you turn this job down,” he said, “you’re an idiot,” he said, “because you’ll never get an opportunity like this again.” And I thought, well, I still didn’t believe it.
Over the period, the rest of the week, most of the people in the tool room came down and as they passed my machine, they said, “I hear you’re working with Les Morris on Monday?” I said, “yeah.” They said, “best thing you’ve ever done,” he said, “you’ll really enjoy it.”
And so on the Monday I went along and saw Jack Madison and he took me along to Les Morris. Les was actually working on the model, it wasn’t complete, it was partially built, and he was busy with something and he just said, “you just hang on a minute while I get this job done and then we’ll sort it out.” And he took me right through that model, everything that we were going to do from, from start to finish and he showed me the machines we were going to be working on, and it was every machine in the shop, every machine we had to be able to work to do this particular job.
Now, bearing in mind I had only been on the lathe and the tool cutter grinder, that was a bit daunting. But to give him his due, he stuck with me and for the next three years we worked on that model until we had completed it. We sprayed it, I learnt how to spray paint, brace, weld, did all sorts of different things that I didn’t even know about. And learnt how to work all the machines. He was brilliant, he was absolute knock out.
Jim has 14 memories in the memorynet:
Jim's memories with a Relationships theme:
- Les Morris
- Politics and Doxford's
Jim's other memories:
- Starting at Doxford's
- The Doxford master plan
- Working in the Tool Room
- Training the apprentices and the closure of Doxford's
- Value of Doxford apprenticeship
- The apprentice strike
- Leaving Doxford's
- The Doxford Ship Yard
- Aerial view of the Doxford Works and the River Wear
- A ship being launched
- A Doxford engine
- Model of a Doxford engine