Working Lives

Mechanic and diesel fitter (1940s-70s)

Location: Norwich

Raymond started as a tractor mechanic apprentice at Mann Egerton in Norwich and carried out repairs on farms. He went on to join the gas board as a fitter looking after the stationary pumping engines at Gas Hill Norwich and then gas board vehicles in Roundtree Way.

My first job was working at an agricultural engineers in Loddon which made vapourisers for the Fordson Major tractor engines. I wanted an apprenticeship and the owner said he would see if he could get me one at Mann Egerton in Norwich. I got one and started as a tractor mechanic apprentice at their workshop under the railway arches at Trowse.

I lived in Norwich and this involved cycling to work down Bracondale and having to leave earlier than normal on a Saturday as I had to get off my bike at least twice to get through the herds of cattle being driven up Bracondale to the cattle market by the castle.

The work involved carrying out repairs on farms sometimes outside in all weathers and I recall working all day in the field with a 5 gallon drum of glowing coke to keep us warm.

In the late 50’s I joined the gas board as a diesel fitter to look after the stationary engines pumping gas to various parts of the county. The main pumping house was on Gas Hill, in Weeds Square, The foundations for the pumping house were suspect being near to chalk workings that a 12 feet deep concrete foundation was laid to stand each engine on. These engines pumped gas as far as Holt.

In those days the gas company had very few vehicles and I recall at the start of the day the gas fitters would leave on their bikes laden with tool bags, lengths of pipe etc. or taking larger items on handcarts.

As the gas industry modernised the number of vehicles increased and I was given the task of establishing a vehicle repair workshop which eventually moved to a purpose built workshop in Roundtree Way.

With the gas industry preparing for privatisation I was made redundant and for the remaining six years before I retired I did various jobs all connected to road transport.

Submitted by Raymond (b. 1933) to WISEArchive in February 2012 in Norwich.

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