Newsletter 3
Summer 2003

Updated on 01Jul2003



Bad Chair Days
Dam Busters
Great Place to Work
High Society
Hooker’s Engines
Kingston’s Fighters
Membership List
Readers Writer
Ski Jump
Tangmere Visit

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That was the title of John Glasscock's informal talk to over sixty Members on March 12th. Sitting at a table, because he had "problems with the undercarriage", he entertained his attentive audience with reminiscences about his time at Kingston.

From the RAF JLG joined Hawker Aircraft Ltd in 1953 as a Secretarial Assistant working for Eric Rubython. Neville Spriggs was then General Manager with John Lidbury - Company Secretary, Sir Sydney Camm - Chief Designer, EH Jefferson - Works Director. HAL's bulk profits went to the Hawker Siddeley Group (run by Tom Sopwith, Frank Spriggs, Roy Dobson and Arnold Hall) but some funds were 'retained' for R&D. JLG's training programme took him round the Departments. In Design he worked with Roy Chaplin, Stanley Hollyhock, Frank Cross, Stan Whale, Harold Tuffen and brushed up against Sir Sydney who on one occasion threw him out of the DO! Contracts was under Frank Sherras who ran two books; one for HAL eyes, the other for the Ministry.

In Experimental JLG was looked after by Donald Stranks, a bit of an eccentric who used to carry an Aldis Lamp to signal people he wanted to see. Dunsfold Experimental was headed by Bill Turner, a rather absent minded academic individual who dropped JLG out on the airfield saying he would pick him up, only to forget for two hours. Sales and Publicity was a one-man-band; George Anderson, and Production was taken care of by Frank Locke, Harry Viney and Wally Rayner who was sitting in the front row enjoying every minute of the talk.

The premises were Canbury Park Road, Richmond Road, Teddington and Langley (then a raw material store) and Dunsfold with Works Managers Bill Clark, then Reg Hayward followed by John Yoxall. EH Jefferson organised Hawkers' Blackpool factory which produced 30 Hunters a month. The Hunter was very profitable and many aircraft were refurbished and sold again. The new office block was criticised in the press as looking like a mausoleum and Lidbury was castigated by HSG for wasting money. However, those who worked in it had a quite different opinion.

The P.1121 came to nothing, after Company funding. The P.1127 led to the wonderful Harrier but this was not as successful commercially as had been hoped. JLG said Ralph Hooper, in the audience, responsible for the design and development of the type, had been given too little credit...and John Fozard a bit too much!

The P.1182 Hawk had been under Ralph's leadership as Chief Engineer, with Gordon Hodson, also in the audience, doing more than most for the project, even developing the requirement with the RAF. The Chief Designer had been Gordon Hudson who, sadly, was not well enough to come to the meeting.

The fixed price (a 'first' in the UK aircraft industry) contract, negotiated by Reg Gearing, dated 21.3.72, for the "design, development, manufacture and support of 175 1182AJ" aircraft was worth £6,567,500. It broke even but the profit came from another 'first', the Reliability and Maintainability bonus. JLG recalled the many overseas sales, including the Finnish 100% offset deal (yet another 'first') and the great achievement of the T-45 sale to the US Navy against strong US and European competition.

JLG left Kingston in 1977, having been General Manager since 1965, with Colin Chandler his successor. "After that the place had run down: mergers, nationalisation, privatisation etc and all that's left now is Hawker Leisure!"

JLG finished by saying why 'Hawkers' had been "a good place to work" - it was a successful company with outstanding products, outstanding people and a great heritage. Its strength was in the middle management; it was small enough to adopt a paternalistic approach. Perhaps it was a bit parochial and there were inter-departmental rivalries - but these added to the enjoyable cut and thrust. 'Hawkers' worked as a team and always presented a united front.

"We saw the best of things. Yes, a good place to work - warts and all!" was John's closing remark.