Reg Carden reminisces about his life at Hawker in Kingston and subsequently elsewhere…
My name is Reg Carden and I am nearly 93 years old and I live in
Harmans Cross, Swanage, Dorset. I would like to make contact with
anyone who remembers me. To help you identify likely people I might
know I will now outline early details of my life.
I had to leave Tiffin Boys' School a year before I should, to earn
a little money to help my Mum; my father died when I was 4 years old.
My first job was at the Surbiton Town Clerks Office in 1939 where I was
a junior clerk working on a card system covering the issue of Anderson
and Morrison air raid shelters and all types of gas masks. I joined the
Local Defence Volunteers and helped to guard the Council Offices of a
night time. We had about six rifles and eight pick axe handles…and no
War had started and we were being bombed most nights especially
around where I lived in Deacon Road which ran down to Hawker Aircraft,
parallel to Canbury Park Road. I heard that Hawker was taking on
clerical workers and as the money was better I took a job in the
Materials Control Office where I met the most beautiful girl, Doreen
Wills, whom I was later to marry.
Next door to where I lived was a big man called Ernie Haise (spelling
?) who was a toolmaker directed from Portsmouth into the Hawker
Toolroom which was in the old roller skating rink next to the Regal
Cinema in Canbury Park Road. He said to me, “You don' t want to be a
pen pusher lad, learn a trade” He subsequently got me an interview with
the Toolroom Supervisor and I started immediately. As you will see, my
Tiffin Boys schooling and the Hawker apprenticeship served me well for
the rest of my working life.
Between 1940 and 1946 I completed my apprenticeship and spent a
considerable time at the end of this period in the important Jig
Borer's Dept., working days and nights. Once I had completed my
apprenticeship I was called up to join the RAF. I got married to Doreen
just before going into the RAF in which I qualified as a Fitter 1
When I was demobbed I returned to Hawker and went
into the Jig & Tool Design Drawing Office where I worked for
sixteen years in various locations. With a friend, in my spare time
(evenings, weekends and holidays) I designed and built two houses in
West Byfleet. It took 12 months to do and was very hard work with
continuous money problems, but they are still very attractive and
valuable properties. We built these 1954-1955. I lived in one of these
houses until 1964 when I was offered a job as Works Supervisor of a new
company in Guildford called Designs & Installations, with about 120
employees. I was subsequently promoted to Works Manager.
I was later offered the position of Works Manager
of Redwing Aircraft, Croydon, with about 450 employees. Redwing
was taken over by Gaskell & Chambers Ltd. and I became Works
Manager of this company with two large factories and other smaller
units. I had to close down various factories in England and bring much
of their production down to the Croydon and Mitcham area. I was then
made a Director with a total staff of over 900. My last appointment was
Managing Director of a very high tech company called Paterex in
Orpington employing about 140, whilst still remaining a Senior Director
of Gaskell & Chambers. Paterex worked mainly for Rolls-Royce and
other aero engine companies producing very difficult hot zone jet
Finally I will list some names of workmates at Hawker Aircraft.
Apprentices of my age: Len Hale, Ron Clements (who
latterly set up his own company), Tiny Hiles (I think he became Works
Manager), Andrews (I cannot remember his first name).
Other Hawker people I remember: Ted Croker (who got
a top job as Secretary to the F.A. He had played with his brother Peter
for Charlton Athletic and also played for the Kingstonians), Len
Woodward, Ray Ward (I got him a job as Chief Inspector at Designs &
Installations. During my time at Hawker he was in the Jig Borers with
me), Harry Otterwell (also in the Jig Borers and became a Chargehand),
Dick Burr (Jig Borers Foreman), and Stan Woodman (Jig Borers
Friends in the Jig & Tool Drawing Office: Newman
Locke, Charlie Tidy, Tommy Moulds, Willy Wilcox, Tom Webster, Jock
Night and Dave Stonnard.
I appreciate a number of the above have probably passed on, and my memory is not as good as I would like it to be.
If anybody could communicate with me using FaceTime, it would be great. My phone number is. 01929 480897.
Editor’s note. If you don’t have access to a computer write to me at the address in the Editorial section.