Doug Halloway was reminded of his time at Canbury Park road by Tom Clare's story in NL.23...
I started at Canbury Park Road in 1938. I remember well the machine
shop on the ground floor, a mass of whirling shafts with belts to each
machine, which could be seen through a 15 foot square opening in the
first floor, no doubt to improve the light level and air circulation.
The first floor was called the 'rib shop' where a lot of, mainly
Hurricane, details were made and where I started my career in aircraft.
I was regularly moved to other departments to gain experience, and I
remember Tommy Sopwith walking through the ground floor Hurricane
centre-section shop with his young son holding his hand.
For a while I worked on the 'plane floor' which was on the railway side
of Canbury Park Road next to the experimental building which had the
canteen on the top floor. The flat roof above the canteen had Lewis
machine guns mounted; I don't think they were ever fired at any
aircraft although there were several occasions when they were low
Hawkers In The Late 1930s
The tea trolleys for morning break had lovely hot doughnuts, cold
cream ones, and thick slices of bread and dripping. The milk cartons
held about one third of a pint and when not quite empty could be a
formidable missile, one of which unfortunately hit a supervisor in the
chest as he came round the corner into the 'rib shop'. There were three
supervisors who walked round at any time - Gamble, Sellers and Simmons
- and quite often would sack people on the spot for any slight
misdemeanour. This time Simmons's suit was splashed with milk and he
just stood there while we all tried not to laugh, until one chap looked
up to see him still there. He was immediately suspended for three days
without pay; I don't think he threw the carton, either.
heels with Duralac was still done in 1938, personal drawers in the
wooden benches would be nailed up, or someone's smock would be hung up
in the rafters. Archie, the one armed custodian of the toilet, was
still there to put your name in the book and record your time; over ten
minutes meant a bang on the door.
Things changed when war
broke out and we started working longer hours. Early in 1940 the rib
shop moved to an empty factory on the Slough Trading Estate, a long
coach ride from Kingston each day starting at 7.00 am and sometimes not
getting back until 10.00 pm, quite often during an air raid. I helped
start a new department for Hurricane wing skins supervising about fifty
women, but that's another story.