Gordon Tozer

Apprentice 1971-5

Gordon in the Fabrication Workshop working on sheet metal housing for a Slab Press, c. 1974
Gordon in the Fabrication Workshop working on sheet metal housing for a Slab Press, c. 1974
Men working on a Bumper Press for Alfa Romeo in the Main Fitting Workshop, c. 1974
Men working on a Bumper Press for Alfa Romeo in the Main Fitting Workshop, c. 1974

In these written memories, Gordon recalls entering the “testosterone-fueled” Apprentice School in 1971 as one of the many “archetypal teenage lads” taken on by the company.

Sandwiches the size of house bricks

He remembers the foremen, the training they gave, and developing a “forte” in welding. One of the older welders, he recalls, would sit in “the corner eating sandwiches the size of house bricks”.

“A thin man, nearing the end of his long working life, he looked as though he lived on lettuce leaves, but the way he consumed these gargantuan snacks was quite remarkable.”

Dawn walks

Gordon recalls the sounds and smells of the Fabrication Shop in great sensory detail. One particular memory, however, is of a dawn walk by the canal side after a long night shift and of the “old warehouses” that characterised the area.

To read Gordon’s memories in full click on the download below.

Click on the hyperlink to see the photograph of the 1971 apprentice intake of which Gordon was part.


Comments about this page

  • “I seem to remember some illegal fishing being done with some make do fishing rods and reels as well. Also a stroll up Southgate Street to get an early morning paper.! I also remember that if Roy Moses was on the night we had to wake him up to go home, also he had a good trick of boxing the cars in out side the roller doors of the Boiler Yard with his at the rear, so we HAD to wake him so we could get our cars out.”
    Phil Allen 20/12/2015

    By Paul Evans (22/02/2018)
  • “When we were on nights our allocated work was usually completed by – say – 5 in the morning. Then, we’d tidy up a bit and make good.

    If it was a nice morning – late spring or summer; we would take a short walk down to the canal – yes, this wasn’t REALLY allowed.

    It was often very pleasant; just a half hour stroll to escape the fug and fumes of the welding shop.

    We’d often bump into other workers from along the dockside.

    I remember these fondly – after a long, hard night, it was just the thing to work out a few kinks and get some fresh air!”
    Gordon Tozer 17/11/2015

    By Paul Evans (22/02/2018)
  • “I was an apprentice from 1971-1975 in the Welding Department. Enjoyed reading Gordon Tozer’s account of life in the Fabrication Shop as we both served our apprenticeship’s at the same time in there.”
    Phil Allen 11/02/2013

    By Paul Evans (21/02/2018)
  • Sorry – I haven’t kept up with what is happening on the site! Was discussing it with Sir John Fleming recently! He is full of recollections. Graham “Chippy” Aston! Goodness me! (Good skittler!) Hi there Mr Allen – sister sends her regards! I must pick up sometime soon.

    By Gordon Tozer (21/01/2014)
  • Thanks Phil – I hope you and Gordon get in touch again through the site or through email!

    By Ollie Taylor (09/09/2013)
  • Hi Gordon, Many thanks for your kind comments you placed on my page on the F&P website regarding my memories. When I read your page, which I also enjoyed, it was that which made me write it. Approaching 40 years since we last met!! How time flyies and I hope you had a good life and career after F&P.

    Since leaving F&P, I have only been in contact with two lads from our year – Fred Broady (Skittles) & Paul Hecquet (Football & Golf). If you fancy swopping a few e-mails it would be great to hear from you. Take care mate. Phil

    By Phil Allen (28/08/2013)
  • Thanks for adding these great memories Chippy! The nicknames and stories behind them really give a flavour of the camaraderie and banter in the workshops.

    I take it Jack wasn’t the only one responsible for painting the presses – would that have been done by a team and were they also fitters too? Any other memories about Jack and the painters would be great!

    Were you playing skittles with Gordon’s Dad as part of Fielding’s social events? I’m sure Gordon would like to hear more about your memories of doing that too.

    By Ollie Taylor (07/06/2013)
  • Looking at the picture, I have a feeling that the other people in it are… to Gordon’s right, Keith Parker (fitter), Keith Hale (pipe fitter), Joe Pinkney (fitter), and finally “Jack” the painter. The person you can see down on the shop floor I’m afraid I can’t put a name to.

    I remember Gordon working in the Fabrication Shop (I always called it the “Boiler Yard”) but that may have been a name left over from the 1950/60’s? When Keith Parker worked up in Hydraulic 2, he got the nickname of “womble” because he always seemed to be going round tidying up! Mind you, not a bad thing I suppose, looking back, a tidy workplace would be seen as a much safer place in today’s world! I also remember being told once by our Works’ Convener (Gilbert Vallender) that I was like an embryonic Joe Pinkney, because I was having a grumble or a moan about something! Joe was quite a character! Saying that, as a young man back then, all the older guys were characters in their own way to me! I worked with quite a few of them, as would have Gordon when he came over to the Fitting Shops to do welding as and when required.

    Keith Hale and I became friends at work, I think we both had an interest in music, something which I still have. Hope Keith has too! I haven’t seen either of the two Keiths for years. I did play skittles for a few seasons with Gordon Tozer’s Dad, Ted, back in the 1970’s!

    When “Jack” the painter started he introduced “the roller” to painting the presses. Quite a good idea when it came to covering large areas of sheet steel etc, but handrails too… I think that was taking it a bit too far, as did quite a few of us at the time! But hey, that was Jack’s way of doing it and he was quite happy! Times never to be repeated! Chippy Aston

    By Graham Aston (01/05/2013)

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