Updated on 29Mar2004
Published by the Hawker Association for the Members.
Contents © Hawker Association
DUNSFOLD NIGHT SHIFT - THE EARLY DAYS
from Eric Hayward
During 1954-56 I did several stints on the Production night shift at Dunsfold; not a thing I really enjoyed but we all had to take our turn. However, it was great to have Mondays off although it was somewhat tainted by the fact that you had to start work at 7.00 pm. By the time 12.30 am arrived you were half way into your shift and a cooked meal was available in the canteen, which meant you were reversing your eating schedule, then it was straight back to work again. The final early morning hours always seemed to drag and 4.00 am was the very worst time, and with the hangar heaters blasting away you always had a very strong urge to curl up and go to sleep. Anyway, on summer mornings it got light by 5.00 am which brought you back to life and if you had finished your allotted task, you had time to spare.
Dunsfold Aerodrome in the autumn produced a big crop of wild mushrooms so a few of the more adventurous of us would vanish into the dawn and collect fresh mushrooms for breakfast. On one such autumnal morning there was a heavy mist covering the airfield. I ventured out and found a great crop of
mushrooms, filling completely the two carrier bags I had with me. On my return towards the hangar a figure appeared out of the mist. Most unusual, I thought to myself, and as I approached I was shocked to see Fred Bromley, the hangar foreman. "What are you doing?" said Fred, Just out for a walk", I responded without acknowledging the fact that I had two very full carrier bags of mushrooms. "You do know that you are not allowed out here without permission!" he boomed. "Oh, yes" I replied in a whisper. "But you did not request permission" Fred boomed again. A weak "No", was my reply. "Your fine will be a bag of those mushrooms." So I gladly surrendered half of my mushrooms thinking myself jolly lucky to get off so lightly. Honour was satisfied and no more was said about the incident. We then both returned to the hangar carrying our bags.
Fred Bromley was the first Hawker man I met when he interviewed me at Dunsfold when joining the company in 1953. He was a very strict and fair individual regarded by all who worked under him as a 'good guy'. After the experience with the mushrooms I certainly had to agree with them.