I was apprenticed for five years to Lee Beesley of Warwick Row in 1947.
At that time it had contracts with most of the important car factories in Coventry to supply large quantities of labour to carry out electrical alterations and installations.
After 18 months or so at Armstrong Siddeley, Parkside, I was sent to Standard Motors at Canley and spent most of my remaining apprenticeship years there learning my trade of electrician.
As we were contractors we did not have a permanent base but had a “mobile office” – in other words a four-wheel push truck which carried our ladders, toolboxes, vices and materials. It also served as our meal break room and one of my jobs was to fetch a can of tea from one of the buffets – a trick of the time was to put soda in the tea to make it look stronger and go further
Electrical supplies were carried up by the roof trusses and as it was about 30 feet to the trusses and as there was only about two feet of ladder above the boxes which moved as you went up, all sorts of consequences went through my mind and I was determined that when I “came out of my time” I would find a job that didn’t entail ladders.
At that time the Vanguard 2 and the Renown were in production and it fascinated me as to how all the parts which came on different conveyors from various stores arrived at the correct point on the track at the exact time that the car being assembled was at the point.
In springtime all the glazed roofing was painted green in an attempt to reduce summer temperatures and in the autumn it was all scrubbed off again.
The canteen doors were opened at 12.30pm and there was a mass charge. The same stampede occurred at finishing time. The exit gates on to Tile Hill Lane would be firmly shut and from 4.15pm the crowds would start to gather. At 4.30pm the gates would be flung open and the hordes of men, very many on bicycles, would pour out on to the road, followed by the few cars and 12 to 15 buses.
The ladies from accounts and trim shop must have exited by the Ivy Cottage in Canley Road I think.
During the course of my apprenticeship I worked at Frederick Marsden (Foleshill Rd), Daimler Radford, Daimler Browns Lane, Armstrong Siddeley at Parkside and Ansty, Rootes at Humber Road, Harry Fegruson at Banner Lane and for a fairly short time on domestic and new schools, but of all of these, the memories of the Standard remain the best and longest lasting.
Bill Lovell, Leamington.