Jack Hobbs

From Fitter to Acceptance Engineer Supervisor

Number 0021
Kindly supplied by Geoffrey Hobbs

In this audio file, John Davis remembers Jack Hobbs. Jack was originally a Fitter who went on to became responsible for all the Acceptance Engineers and hence in charge of the assembly of presses all over the world. Jack was also responsible for restoring the Fielding oil engine at the docks.

As well as discussing Jack’s successes, John recounts more personal memories about his time working with Jack Hobbs before his retirement in the mid 1980s.

More memories about Jack have been added by his son Geoff and daughter-in-law Mary here.

If you remember the people, places, or machines in these photographs – or if the audio clip brings back memories – please share your memories by clicking on the words Add a comment about this page below.

Comments about this page

  • I was briefly a student apprentice at Fielding’s in the late 1950’s, before moving to Heenan’s in Worcester. I still have vivid memories of a terrifying trip with Jack to Beans Industries in Tipton where we had been renovating a press that had made shell casings in the war. It was a murky, drizzling winter day and his Ford Consul (?) had vacuum operated windscreen wipers that more or less stalled whenever Jack accelerated to overtake, which was often. It didn’t seem to bother him, but it sure scared me!

    Ed: Great story Adrian! Ford’s of the time were fitted with vacuum wipers as I recall as passenger in a Ford Prefect of the early ’60s.  Similar feelings!     John B

    By Adrian Evans (24/10/2016)
  • Hi all!   Photographs of the 100 ton 12 Station Soda Syphon Bottle Press are now posted on the website here.   John B

    By John Bancroft (21/01/2014)
  • Thanks Herbert. I remember the name, Eric Penning, but did not really get involved with him. I too had one of these soda siphons for many years. I know a few were made into table lamps by some fitters!

    By ALISTAIR ADAMS (06/12/2013)
  • I can add a little to this. The designer of this bottle press was Eric Penning. He appears in the film about the 4000 ton stretcher, he still lives in Gloucester and is now aged 88. One of the best designers it has been my pleasure to know.

    By Herbert Hindle C.Eng. (29/11/2013)
  • Hi Chippy, long time no see! I recognise the lady, I think she was the secretary in the Acceptance Dept. Which I think, is where the rest of the engineers shown in the photo worked too.

    By ALISTAIR ADAMS (29/10/2013)
  • I would like to add some notes about Jack and the Fielding engine at the Gloucester Waterways Museum. John mentions this in his recording, but I am now responsible for the engine, as a Friend and Engineering volunteer at the Museum.

    The engine used to run the machine shop at Godwin Pumps, Quenington, near Cirencester. This was done via belts and a line shaft. The engine was built at Fieldings in circa 1929 and I have been told that Jack used to help service the engine for many years.

    There was a fire at Godwins, which destroyed a lot of the works, including the engine building, but in the mid 1980’s the Mid Gloucestershire Engine Preservation Society decided to renovate the engine and bring it to Gloucester Docks. Jack was asked to oversee the renovation. This took several years, in fact moving the engine to the docks was a task in itself. The flywheel on its own weighs 5 Tons! I understand that unfortunately Jack did not see the engine run again. I have been told that he died a few weeks before it was fired up in its new home.

     Back now in 2013. Currently the engine is poorly, but not for much longer. Godwin Pumps are still in Quenington and are making us a new gunmetal main bearing. It is great working with such a committed, enthusiastic, professional bunch of engineers. This is also saving the Museum and Friends thousands of pounds – thanks Godwin. There are other jobs needed in the Engine House, but once we have them all completed, the engine will be running again soon. Watch this space!

    By ALISTAIR ADAMS (30/09/2013)
  • In the centre photo, Jack is holding a Soda Siphon. I believe this is relevant, because the aluminium bottles for these, were made on a Fielding press. Does anyone else know any more details?

    By ALISTAIR ADAMS (30/09/2013)
  • Hi Alistair. I seem to remember that the press for making the soda siphons was built in Hydraulic 2 and was installed on the customers site by Peter Wood. I think the press worked on a rotary basis, with each succesive tool gradually drawing the bottle to its final shape I still have a red one of these siphons which Peter brought back for me from there. The press was made for BOC which was the British Oxygen Company. In the photo with Jack, are from the left Frank Bullock, Jeff Nibblet, Jack, John Little, ? ( I can’t remember this lady’s name) Bill Wagner and Alfie Russell. Hope some of this helps. Chippy Aston

    By Graham Aston (30/09/2013)

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