Becoming a joiner apprentince at Cellon’s at 16 – by GS

I went to a local factory, where British Aerospace used to be, right opposite there is anindustrial estate, well in my day that was a great big paint factory called Cellon’s Paints and they did all sort of marine finishes and that sort of thing and they had a big maintenance staff there, maintenance mechanics for their lorries and maintenance brick layers and maintenance everything to keep the whole factory going, they employed 800 people there and I went there one day, I had a cousin to worked there in the offices I think, and he told my mother that I might get a job there and I went there and I think my mother actually came with me and he said the only vacancy we’ve got at the moment is we could do with a young lad in the postal department, sorting letters and all that.  It was office work with girls and that and I didn’t really want to do that, it wasn’t really my cup of tea, but I did it, I didn’t want to be out of work, so I did it.

I’d been doing it about three months and this office manager came round one day and he put his arm round my shoulder and I was just about turned 16 then and he said “I don’t think you’re really cut out for this Gerald are you?” I said probably not, he said “I imagine you would like to be doing something with your hands”, I said yes I think I would really.  “Well how would you like me to have a word with the joiner”, they had a resident joiner there, I said I would like that, yes. 

So he had a word with this joiner guy and he came back to me a few days later and he said the joiner would like to have a chat with you he might take you on. Well they had a joiner’s shop there and he was obviously a carpentry joiner and he was a lovely old boy, he was 72 at the time, way beyond retirement but he was a fantastic tradesman and I had an interview with him and he said we could fit you in here for a bit, so I said that’s lovely and that’s why I started carpentry really and I started buying tools, getting a collection of tools together and I used to go round the factory with him doing little jobs, then helping him in the workshop and all that and I was only with him fora bit because he was getting on a bit, I was probably there for a year.