Newsletter 9
Summer 2005
Updated on 9Jun2005
Published by the Hawker Association
for the Members.
Contents © Hawker Association

Annual General Meeting
Half a Century in
Hawkers In the 50s
Programme for 2005
Reminiscences of a
Roy Goodheart
Sea Harrier
Thirty Years Ago
Visit to Imperial War
Wartime Hawkers
Doug Halloway, who worked for Hawkers at the beginning of World War II, remembers those important and exciting days...

November 1938; the Kingston electricity station was on fire. No lighting was available for the Hawker factory in Canbury Park Road for three days. Candles were used so that we could continue working until 5.30 pm.

I was working in the 'rib shop' at that time with Eric Brooks and Theo Ball, just two names I remember. Jock Walker and Wally Rayner were chargehands and Freddy Davis foreman. Gamble, Sellars and Simmons were floating supervisors who sacked or suspended anyone for three days without pay, for the slightest misdemeanour, as I personally discovered - fortunately Jock Walker saved my day. I also spent some time on Hurricane centre sections and over the road on wings on the 'Plane Floor'.

top toptop
When war was declared air-raid shelters were built where the cycle racks were, on the outside of the factory in Canbury Park Road, with another shelter behind 'The Rink' with cycle racks on top. When the sirens sounded I was one of several who had to run down the road to the Rink shelter behind the Regal cinema.

In 1940 Hawkers spread out to many different areas for safety and greater production: Acton, Perivale, Tolworth and other places. Langley would take over from Brooklands for final assembly and flight testing. The rib shop moved to an ex-German factory on the Slough Trading Estate. Initially there was no heating so dustbins were positioned in the factory, filled with coke and used as braziers. Several glass panels were removed from the roof to let out the smoke. Brick air-raid shelters were built inside along the centre of departments but were only used officially if enemy aircraft were very near.

A lot of female labour was employed and I was assistant chargehand over about 50. Harold Wyatt worked with me and Jack Paice was brought in as chargehand. We were never hit by bombs but there was a sad event one day when the husband of one of the women turned up with their 12 year old daughter. When the mother went to the front entrance the husband stabbed and killed her; obviously a domestic disagreement.

Tommy Bray was the manager there and when I volunteered for the Navy in 1942 he wouldn't release me. From 1940 to 1942 I was working all hours at Slough. I would leave Kingston by coach at 7.00 am and some days not get back until 10.00 pm. Saturdays and Sundays we worked until 5.30 pm, especially during the Battle of Britain. Kingston was bombed several times; the Regal was hit one night and the blast blew out the front of The Three Fishes pub across the road. I stayed in bed that time as there was only one aircraft. Another evening as I was walking home from the coach, a raid was in progress and as I walked past the factory in Canbury Park Road I heard bombs coming down, which had me worried as I was right alongside the obvious target. Fortunately Hawkers was spared that time but a block of flats in Park Road was destroyed with, I believe, several casualties.

I lived in Canbury Avenue, about 300 yards from Hawkers, and one night I had just gone to bed when I heard the bombs falling. This time they were on target. One fell alongside the cinema, the second hit Hawkers in Canbury Park Road, the third knocked four houses down in Deakon Road and the fourth fell in the back gardens just across the road. I got dressed this time and went out to see if I could help but there was nothing I could do except roll up telephone wires which had been brought down along the road. So, back to bed as I had the 7.00 am coach to catch.

In 1943 the build up for D-Day, the invasion of Europe, was starting, so I volunteered for REME and this time I was able to join HM forces. I joined up in March 1943, ready for my free cruise to France in June!