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When I did wake I found I could hardly move for I was in an “Asbestos suit! I soon found out what had happened, the girls had come into work as usual at 8 a,m. found me sound asleep so sewed me up really well each leg, arm and the whole of my body.

Everyone was laughing and I needed some heavy scissors to get out of this. My freedom took me an age but when I had escaped and cloked out that first night I had clocked up 14 hours on time and a half! So I earn a lot that night. The rest of the week I managed normal night shift hours. Though did not do much work. The second night I found a number of fellow apprentices who knew a way to get a good night’s sleep. It was in the Pattern shop stores, this was in an area which was always kept warm and dry. Better still it was dimly lit we would play cards or find some sacks to sleep on, it was a gift. So here I was doing my bit for the war effort while increasing my income

I soon learned that a three monthly return train ticket could also be cost effective. If one took a through ticket from Colchester to Harrow on the Hill one would pass through Liverpool Street yet still retain it, then one could buy a tube ticket to Harrow on the Hill yet keep the main ticket for repeat journey. On the return journey I learnt that my ticket was not collected at Colchester if I arrived after 9pm and was only clipped by the train inspector every other Sunday. My education progressed a pace on all fronts not least that it was cheaper, if not more risky, to take a girl for a country walk rather than to the pictures or the price of a meal in a restaurant

My time spent with Davey Paxman as an Indentured Apprentice were certainly among my most enjoyable, I learnt a great deal from the crafts men I worked with. So many things happened at the factory that it is impossible to record them all. As a new apprentice my first six months were spent in the Training shop with a lovely old foreman in charge of us, who we called Uncle Bum because his name sounded like that. The Training shop was equipped with a complete range of machines, from Lathes, shapers and millers to heat treatment and welding equipment. We were shown and given jobs to do we soon became reasonably good at machine and metal work.

Soon after I started in the Training shop, two locomotives from the Romney Hythe Narrow Gauge railway were brought in for complete rebuild. These locomotives had been built by Paxman’s before the war and were due for a complete overhaul. The whole locomotive was stripped down and the boiler was removed.

The Boiler was then sent to the Boiler Shop where it was tested and examined closely; some of the fire tubes were removed and their flanges recorked. We were given the task of measuring all the bearing and slides for wear and were given the job of refitting and replacing bearings and other worn parts. It really was such an interesting experience for this was the first time I had ever been involved in making a complete engine. We later were given a number of model steam engines from various museums which had to be serviced and rebuilt.

Whenever the foreman “Uncle Bum” was away we apprentices would always get up to mischief! I suppose will be boys. On one occasion I pressed a large Milling cutter on a ball race we had on the bench and with a piece of steel pipe through it’s centre I held each end with my outstretched hands. A fellow apprentice directed the compressed air pipe onto the Milling wheel and we blew the cutter wheel round at high speed. As it’s speed increased it began to give out a loud wailing of sound similar to the sound of



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