He was six feet tall and weighed about nine stones, which is probably why his workmates called him ‘Slim’. Slim’s dad was a policeman who was an extraordinary shot with a rifle. In fact, he was the police champion shot for the County of Kent. When the fair visited, he was barred from the rifle range because he used to cut all the target bottles down by firing at the strings from which they hung.

Slim wanted to be a greengrocer but his dad insisted that he should go into the motor trade, which would be the business of the future. Slim worked for James Young and Barclays, both coach builders for Rolls Royce.

He became a very good oxy-acetylene welder, even mastering the art of welding aluminium by this method.  Among his unusual commissions were welding on the Coronation Coach and the Eros statue in Piccadilly Circus, both of which are of cast aluminium construction.

Slim The Welder


In 1939, Slim’s skills were recognised and, instead of call-up into the military service, he was dispatched to Hawkers at Brooklands into a “Reserved Occupation”.  Hurricane production was getting into full swing and manufacturing was deliberately being dispersed around the country. So, Slim was transferred to Acton, welding bits of Hurricane Typhoon and Tempest fuel tanks and wing tips.

He stayed at Acton throughout World War II, living most of the time in Ealing with his brother, Ted, who was a rate-fixer. Slim played the drums in the Hawker Acton dance band and was a member of the Acton Home Guard. He used to get home to his wife and two children in Bromley, Kent, once or twice a week but usually after the children had gone to bed.

After World War II, Slim was made redundant and worked for a toy company and, later, a maker of loft ladders.

In 1966, when his son got married and left home, Slim moved to Bury St Edmunds where he retired and, in 1983, he died of emphysema at the age of 78, emphysema being the result of welding fumes and roll-your-own cigarettes.

However, in the meantime, his son had completed an apprenticeship at Hawkers and was now earning his crust as Production Director.

I’m very proud of Slim – you see, he was my Dad.

Ray Searle