Aerial photo of the ESA factory at Stevenage

By Simon Mortimer

Stevenage Museum
This page was added on 14/12/2010.

Comments about this page

  • Having left Barclay school aged 15 in 1962 i started a traineeship in the tool room/machine shop at E.S.A. The foreman was ben newberry. Within the first few weeks the charge hand {doug smith} told me i should make the tea for the workers in that department. I pointed out that the elderly man who did the odd jobs and tidying up makes the tea and that i was there to train as a toolroom engineer not to make and hand out tea. Later that day i was sent for a meeting with ben newberry who asked me why i would not make the tea. i told him the same as i had told doug smith, after which he said i should return to my work and “think about it”.

    A week later i was once again sent for a meeting with ben newberry who asked “have you made the tea yet”, with much trepidation i advised him that i had not!! he made no further comment regarding the making of tea but walked across his office, withdrew a leather bound engineering book from a shelf saying “so today we will study metal case hardening”. Those once weekly meetings continued for some time and covered various aspects of engineering.

    After 1 1/2 years in the tool room/machine shop he arranged for me to be assistant to the manager of the maintenance department whose name was jack acker. By the age of 18 the overriding interest in my life was athletics in which i was competing at national level. there was the odd occasion when i took a few hours off work before a competition. It was In the Easter of 1965 that i was chosen to represent southern England v the Rhineland in Germany. This coincided with one of the busiest times for a maintenance department. Jack told me he would not be in work over this period and that i should phone him if any problems arose. Having dared not to tell him that i would not be at work either i just assured him all would be ok. I passed the list of maintenance jobs to each worker asking them “not to tell the boss” that i would not be there”!!, then returned to work the following Tuesday to find the mill had caught on fire to which 3 fire engines attended and that i no longer had a job!!!

    I enjoyed my time at E S A and was given an excellent foundation in engineering which served me well throughout my working life.

    a few names i remember from my time at E S A are:
    john major, jack acker, terry McGrath, ben newberry, doug smith, bob guine

    By michael gorham (01/12/2019)

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *