Ron Curtis

Image accompanying MP3 audio clip: Ron Curtis 1 ( KB)

Ron Curtis 1

Ron introduces himself, explains how he came to work for the company, and describes his roles at the company

Ron Curtis 2

Ron remembers living in Balfour Road and cycling into work every day to begin at 7.30am

Ron Curtis 3

Ron talks about his work in Electrical Department

Ron Curtis 4

Ron remembers the long hours worked during the war years, the rates of pay and working in the Drawing Office when the Chief Draughtsman, Robert Poole, passed away

Ron Curtis 5

Ron describes the "working class area" surrounding Fielding's and the shops in the area

Ron Curtis 6

Ron remembers leaving Fielding and Platt in 1966 and going to work for Indalex in Cheltenham

From apprentice in 1944 to Electrical Department foreman until 1966

By Roxanne Ridgway

Ron started at Fielding and Platt as a young apprentice in 1944 aged just 15 years old. He was one of the first to apprentices to begin in the Craft School, along with nine others.

Apprentices from the Central School

Like many apprentices, Ron came to Fielding's from the Central School in Derby Road. He started with two other apprentices from Central, namely, Gil Claridge and Jim Cullis.

At the time, Ron lived in Balfour Road, which was about 5 minutes away from the factory by bicycle. He remembers clocking on everyday for 7.30am, but he used to get there early.

“I used to get there early in the morning, by about 7.15am. The starting time was 7.30am actually, but by the time one put the bicycle away and put your overalls on it was 7.30am”

Ron used to cycle home for lunch at midday and be back at work by 1.00pm until 5.00pm.

In 1950, on his 21st birthday, Ron left the factory to join the RAF. He returned after his obligatory two years' National Service to the Electrical Department.

The Electrical Department

Ron worked in the Electrical Department and went on to become its foreman.  At that time, Fielding’s made their own control panels for the presses they made.  Ron was responsible for making sure they were made and functioned correctly.

I had to make sure that the control panels were wired correctly and likewise operated correctly on the presses themselves.  With instrumentation and timers and various contactors and relays, it was a very interesting job.”

The rate of pay for such a job “wasn’t what you call brilliant” but it was the atmosphere and camaraderie of the folk that worked there that made up for it, and the overtime: “that made your money up!”

During the war Ron’s father used to from 7.30am until 8.30pm.

The Drawing Office wanted Ron to join their ranks, but Ron preferred to stay in the Works.  However, when the Chief Draughtsman, Robert Poole, passed away Ron lent a hand.  The Works’ Manager wouldn’t let Ron join them full time so Ron worked his usual day from 7.30am-5.00pm in the Works and then continued on from 5.00pm until 8.30pm in the Drawing Office.

Ron also worked on the Edge Gluing Machines and you can listen to his memories of the Edge Gluing Machines here.

The Area around Fielding’s

Surrounding Fielding’s was a “typical working class area”.  There was Finch’s the Butchers, the Post Office opposite Fielding’s, Gilbey Coole’s the Ironmongers, and Melton’s the Hairdressers.

Ron also remembers the railways and the branch lines into Fielding’s and into the Wagon Works itself.

"The branch line ran from California Crossing ... 90% of the cycles that came along Park End Road used to get their wheels caught in the railway lines”.

Ron’s time at Fielding’s in Gloucester came to an end when in January 1966 he was headhunted by Indalex in Cheltenham who wanted an engineer to look after their presses.  One of them was a Fielding press so Ron was a natural choice.  He stayed at Indalex for about 18 months before he was headhunted again by a company who automated concrete batching machines that fed Fielding’s slab presses.  In fact through Ron, Fielding’s sold one or two presses!

More of Ron’s memories coming soon...

Click on the hyperlink to see a picture of Ron in the Apprentice Team at Fielding's first sports' day in 1944

Click on the hyperlink to see a photograph of Ron with Bill Meadows.

Click on the hyperlink to listen to Ron's description of yet another photograph

Click on the hyperlink to see who signed Ron's Indentures

 

If you remember Ron or any of the people, places, or presses he mentioned by him please share your memories by clicking on the grey words Add a comment about this page below.

This page was added by Roxanne Ridgway on 26/09/2013.
Comments about this page

I remember Ron very well, in fact I had fallen to the task of running the electrical drawing office when Bob Poole passed away and I found Ron to be a great asset in assisting me in keeping the department afloat until a new chief could be recruited.

By John Tranter
On 03/10/2013

John! Thanks for adding your note. I am sure that people would be interested to know a bit more about the Electrical Drawing Office. For instance, where the department was located in the factory, how many people worked in the department and who was appointed the new chief? You may also remember the period that this took place? John B

By John Bancroft
On 03/10/2013

In reply to your queries the time line would be 1947/48. The office location was on the ground floor which laid astride the stairwell leading up to the main drawing office and emerging adjacent to the blue print department. The office had been a tracing depository with a dumb waiter lift to transport tracings to and from the blue print department or the drawing office. The new chief did not materialize, as expected, a Mr Arnold arrived who had no interest in the position but agreed to help us with a very specialized drive for a machine for Norton Grinding Co.and made it quite clear that he would be returning to Heenan & Froude as soon as the job was completed. When questioned about his replacement he did volunteer a name but as for a recommendation he was not prepared to comment. The new chief arrived some months later, whilst I struggled on with the aid of two Fielding apprentices,Q one Faraday House student and a female secretary. The new chief incidentally was a Mr Ken Hudson also from the Heenan& Froude stable.

[Editor's Note]: Later, the office moved upstairs to the main drawing office occupying the old design office until the mid 1960s when it moved to a two-story building in Baker Street, that also housed the Apprentice Drawing Office Training department. Prior to demolition of this building, the Electrical Drawing Office was moved into the old Light Machine Shop around 1970 along with the Hydraulic and Piping sections of the main drawing office and, shortly after, the drawing office element of the Redman (Bumper Bar) Division.    John B].   

By John Tranter
On 07/10/2013

I met Ron today (18/5/15) in Costa Coffee, at the Gloucester Royal Hospital! A bit of reminiscing went on as you can imagine. Ron looks well and hasn't changed much, unlike some of us.

I spent 6 months as an apprentice in the electrical dept. when Ron was the Foreman. - Happy days.

By ALISTAIR ADAMS
On 18/05/2015

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