STARTING COLLEGE

On the Monday following our signing-on, those living in the hostel all set off, some walking and some cycling, down the Farnborough Rd to the RAE Technical College. There we were divided into two roughly equal sized groups PX and PY, almost certainly by our rank aggregate mark in the Mathematics and Science entrance examinations.

PX contained the ones with a reasonable chance of selection for the Degree group, likely to be particularly arduous road as EXTERNAL candidates of London University. PY group just might have contained a hidden bright spark so examinations were held at the end of term 1 which would determine the initial selection. Students were encouraged - almost coerced - to retake 'O' levels in English and French if they had not already passed them.

Staff List

Principal................................................. R D Peggs

Vice Principal................................ ,....... Dick Smith

Our Lecturers......................................... (Alphabetical Order)

'Skipper' Astbury..................................... Workshop Technology                                         |   

Frank Bloor............................................ Industrial Admin & WS Tech                                   

Wing Cdr Blunt....................................... Workshop Technology

W Chave-Jones...................................... Mechanics

Mr Cooper.............................................. Servo-Mechanisms

Pete Deadman........................................ Drawing

John P Dean........................................... Electronics

Mr Dunn................................................. Aircraft Structures (Degree group)

F L Ellis.................................................. Technical Drawing

Brian Evans............................................ Thermodynamics

Nick Haile.............................................. Aerodynamics

Major H F T Harrison.............................. Maths

Mr Hayes............................................... Maths PX & PY

Mr Johnson............................................ Industrial Admin & WS Tech

Larry Joyce............................................ Physics

Norman Treacher................................... Chemistry

Ted Ludman........................................... Applied Heat

Bangor Roberts...................................... Maths & Mechanics

Guy Shipp.............................................. Electro-Technology

Mr Sobey............................................... Aircraft Structures

Norman Thornber................................... Materials & Machines

William Wade......................................... Gen Studies

Technicians:

Chemistry.............................................. Joyce Cox

Heat Engines.......................................... Mr Mackey

Electrical................................................ Alan Calve r

Auxilliary Staff:

Mr Holman............................................. Librarian

Miss Stewart.......................................... Principal's Secretary

Leo Bernard............................................ Bursar




Mr Peggs always arrived by the front entrance and parked his Rover in the College forecourt. He entered his first floor office by the wrought iron staircase rather than the front entrance. He had a fairly pronounced speech impediment, rather like King George VI , finding it very hard to avoid stuttering when speaking, particularly at events like the Prize-Distribution.. He was very supportive of the Tech College's sports teams, particularly the Rugby XV. RDP sought glory by attempting to have his students gain as many qualifications and win as many prizes as possible. To that end the student apprentices were entered in the City & Guilds examinations. He was always up to speed with the specific requirements of entry to the Institutions and Associations and ensured that opportunity existed to meet all these requirements during our five years.

R.'V. (Dick) Smith came to us from Hackney College as Vice Principal and stood in sometimes for absent staff. He had a few 'pet' topics at the ready such as determining the centre of gravity of laminae. The group reps always dealt with Mr Smith and I always found him extremely sympathetic to our complaints, most of which were dealt with quickly and to our satisfaction.

Commander Astbury was a retired navy man and was able to back up his teaching with practical applications. I can't quite remember what inter-dendritic corrosion was all about but this little song helped us to remember that "Castings are susceptible to inter-crystalline corrosion when they're dropped upon the foundry floor". We sung this little ditty to the tune of Drorak's Humoresque (Op 101 No7). If the question did come up in the exam I'm sure he would have been impressed by the word-perfect phrasing of us all.

Frank Bloor took us for Workshop Technology. While in Al he set us an inspection problem which went something like this, while in Al (3rd Yr). to detail the inspection procedure. We had struggled rather feebly with the problem back at the hostel with each of our proposals flawed by the others in turn. We concluded it was not possible but surely our master mind would have a solution,

Haggis takes up the story: The problem item was a casting with two HOLES bored through it at right angles to one another, but in different planes so they didn't intersect. The difficulty was that there were quite wide tolerances on the diameters of the bores BUT a very tight tolerance on the distance between their centrelines - a most unlikely requirement, if you think about it, but not one to trouble FB. Checking the bores themselves was no problem. When it came to checking the CL distance, I think we all put mandrels in the bores with precision-ground extensions against which to do the checks, but then the real fun and games started because it was a GAUGING problem. No measuring the distance and checking against the drawing - a Go-NoGo indication was required! I seem to remember my own solution, (the only one to be submitted - Ed), had one mandrel clamped in vertical vee blocks and the other against two dial gauges. I have a vague recollection of some sort of adjusting screw to set one DTI to zero with a Go-NoGo band on the other DTI, but can't quite think how it was supposed to work.

What I can remember is that my submission came back scribbled through in red with no attempt to mark it, and the words, 'Too complicated' scrawled across it. I always felt that FB suffered from an inferiority complex when dealing with us and was always trying to put one over by setting something that was too difficult for

US - well he succeeded With a vengeance that time!    (Thanks for correction to my version Brian - Ed)

At the next lesson we asked FB, who still insisted it could be done, to show us how. After five minutes of blustering and becoming more confused and redder in the face, before eventually breaking out in a sweat that needed brow-wiping with handkerchief, he produced his master solution. "We had to support the item on spring-loaded vee blocks"!. None of us had seen or heard of such an invention, so we pressed him further. At this point he exited to the corridor for further brow-wiping before returning and marching us all down to the training shop to see the HOT WIRE AMMETER in action yet again - nothing to do with the lesson of course.

Later, when we were in A2, FB took us for Industrial Administration. Much of this centred around his time in Derby working for Rolls Royce. We sometimes referred to him as 'Rolls' Bloor and I was to meet him again later.

Dick w says.- "To be fair to Frank Bloor, in A3 Ind Admin, he managed to convey the active participation of unions and management and the role of the conciliation committee (was it ACAS in those days?)".

Mr Chave-Jones was a dapper little man who taught us Mechanics for a while in S3. I remember his attempt to make the theory of Simple Harmonic Motion clear to us. He failed in that regard and moved on to another college at the end of that year

Mr Cooper taught Servo-Mechanisms in our final year

Pete Deadman was one of the younger members of staff and taught some Workshop Technology (using the Chapman textbook) and also took some of us for Engineering Drawing,

John P Dean was an exceptionally good teacher explaining everything most clearly. He owned a battered old Ford 8 in the early days of S3. In our final year, he and his technician Alan Calver manufactured the Jason FM Tuner from kits and sold them to students at very competitive prices.

Mr Ellis was a rather hairy man with a substantial moustache; He took our Drawing lessons in the classroom in the South wing second floor. We drew 'stuffing boxes' as well as locus diagrams for cams operating followers with uniform acceleration, SHM etc, even some with their tappets offset! Mr Ellis had a very deep voice, totally lacking expression and enthusiasm. Johnny Appleford recalls "His fingers were so hairy that I had the greatest difficulty in suppressing a laugh every time he put his hand on my drawing board. Mick Scott and I caused him some grief on several occasions by whistling sotto voce, taking it in turns to deny guilt/take over, as appropriate.




Brian Evans came to the College after a year working in Montreal for Canadair. He was a breath of fresh air after Mr Ludlam who had retired after S3 with us. Brian surprised us all by attending Prize Distribution in his green lounge suit much to the annoyance of the Principal who saw this as the opportunity to present his staff resplendent in their full university gowns. Brian, affectionately known to us as 'Evans the Heat', was regarded by most of us with great respect | for the effectiveness of his teaching and approachable manner. The heat engines laboratory was in the basement below the classroom and we carried out tests using the Ricardo engine to determine the effect of compression ratio, mixture strength and ignition timing on efficiency, power and fuel consumption. The motorcyclists among us had a vested interest in learning about this. An Austin A50 engine was fitted with a Froude brake for us to determine BHP, fuel consumption and the like and we could use the Orsat apparatus to analyse the exhaust gases.




Nick Haile attempted to teach us Aerodynamics. Most of us could cope with rates of climb and the like at S3 but Ackeret's theory with sources and sinks left most of us in the dark - probably because Nick always had his eyes closed when facing the class. He was particularly keen on cricket however and always discussed the state of play in county and test matches to like minded students in the front row.

Brian Thorne recalled our test flight in the college Marathon, doing a measured engine out climb, when the other engine on the side of the one shut down failed. I remember this incident fairly vividly but with some differences. We reported for the flight trial at 1pm as arranged. The plane was on the tarmac but the fourth engine, (the outer port), wouldn't start. After about ten minutes the engine fired up and after the usual smoke settled down running satisfactorily. We were called forward to board the 'crate' - just a shell with all frames and stringers on view. It was my first flight and we were given our observation stations. The weather was awful - driving drizzle and cloud down almost to ground level. As soon as we cleared the runway, we lost sight of ground as we crossed the Fleet Rd, The plane climbed steadily with rivets rattling all around us. Every now and again we descended in pockets of turbulence which we had been told to expect. We took our measurements of temperature, pressure, altitude, engine speed etc. at the appointed times. I seem to remember that we were scheduled to climb to about 8,000 ft. After about ten minutes or so I called out to those around me that the rev counter I was facing must be faulty as it was winding back to zero. A moment later on looking out of the window I could see the nearside port engine prop coming to rest - remember this was not the faulty one on take-off. There was some excited talk over the intercom and Nick Haile quickly came down the gangway and pulled out the plugs to prevent us from hearing the talk back to base. We all remained calm while the plane banked and returned to base without further alarms but leaving us with an incomplete set of flight data. Hurrah for Decca navigation!




Major H F T Harrison taught the HNC boys mathematics for the final three years. He was fairly effective although always relying on his notes. Most of us remember the maths lecture from Mr Harrison after a raid on another residence, (was it Reading University), when one of our number returned with one side of his head shaven. Mick Scott was the victim and the three shorn ones wore woolly hats to make themselves look less conspicuous. Mick walked into the classroom and took his seat as usual in the back row. The Major asked rather stuffily "Is it not usual to remove one's headgear in the classroom? His request was duly acted upon, whereupon seeing the head, Mr H said very deliberately "Please replace your hat". Mr Harrison sported a large moustache, smoked quite a lot and was a keen Bridge player.

Mr Hayes was only with us for the first term and was a brilliant young teacher I had never encountered calculus before but he quickly brought me up to scratch.

Mr Johnson took us for Industrial Administration in A2 and dictated from start to finish, By this time we had learnt the futility of taking notes which meant absolutely nothing to us at revision time. We soon learnt how to write at speed and still be able to read back reliably later. Dick Whittington recalls: "I was one of those who a) could not speed write and b) used to be overcome by the sleeping bug. My notes used to start neat and tidy at the start of the lesson and then gradually become a meaningless scrawl finishing up with a line which moved across and down the page until I woke with a start and then continued to take notes. The result was my notes resembled the printout of some seismic event or rather multiple events, Fortunately I had a very good book on Industrial Admin".

Larry Joyce was the character who left a lasting impression on all of us. He had suffered from Polio which left him with a pronounced limp. We learnt so much in our physics lessons due to his constant repetition. Here are some examples:

·         When light is refracted it is the Violet that is most Violently bent,

·         When determining the resistance of two resistors in parallel it is quite MAD - Multiply, Add and Divide!

·         The road to hell is paved with intermediate students who forget all manner of things one being that I is HALF the length of the magnet!

·         We heard about Mae Wests and sine waves were counted in waggles.

·         When resolving forces don't forget it is F CosA ... 'cause A's the angle you go through!

Brian Thorne recalls Mr Joyce's illustrations in his notes on Polarised light showing a figure in a swimming pool labelled 'nifty bit of stuff. Also his famous saying - 'The road to hell is paved with students who forgot that l/fl + l/f2 = ?' . he has forgotten and must be going to hell!

Baz remembers a science conversation in the physics lab when Pete Lyles and he constructed a light system inside a tank with a hole in the base side trying to show that light bent round corners (down the water jet) and gave a spot of light at the point of impact (surprise surprise) I always thought afterwards that we should have patented that and sold it to drunks who wanted to know where they were peeing.

Ted Ludlam should have retired a few years before our S3 year rather than at the end of it. He was thorough but dull and we soon picked up on his irritating habit of finishing every sentence with "do you see?". This led some of us to lose track of PV = mrT and all that, as we amused ourselves by plotting a graph of the "do you sees" against time.

Bangor Roberts, so called because he came from Bangor in North Wales, took us for Mechanics and Mathematics during our ONC years. When finding forces in frameworks using Bow's Notation we learnt how this reminded him of a certain lady in his home town, Mrs Bow, so named due to the shape of her legs which he suggested was brought about by this lady's profession. Mr Roberts always asked questions from who he thought were the weakest upwards, until hopefully he would find someone who could answer correctly. During one Maths lesson, we were integrating trig functions and he started asking for the answer to the latest one put up on the board. After about 5 tries round the group and not obtaining the answer he picked me out and   in desperation asked "Well, can you integrate it "Mollart  -bloody-Bollockson" or whatever you name is? Needless to say I couldn't and wasn't at all offended as it gave the class a chance to have good laugh! Brian Thorne remembers the St Davids Day lecture with 'Bangor' Roberts. A daffodil and leek were tied to the gas taps on the lecturer's desk. When he arrived he exploded saying 'I suppose you think that is bloody funny". I seemed to remember he walked out on us




Guy Shipp was a strange man. One major flaw in his make-up however was that if we ever questioned him for clarification of any point he would take this as a personal criticism of his teaching ability and this soured the atmosphere for the remainder of the lesson. We spent many happy hours in the electrical laboratory investigating the characteristics of the Shrage motor, the Crossfield generator, the mercury rectifier and the like. It was a good thing that we had the helpful Alan Calver to check and correct our circuits before switching on the power.

Mr Sobey was seconded from his post in the RAE when we were left without a tutor for Theory of Aircraft Structures in our final year for several weeks. He openly admitted that he was doing this under duress. In spite of this, and the fact that this was his first attempt at teaching and needed to cover the syllabus in the protracted time, he did rather well.

Norman Thornber taught us Theory of Machines and Strength of Materials on our final years. He had a good teaching style.

Norman Treacher taught us Chemistry and we went to his lab above the small wind tunnel in an outbuilding for practicals. Here we unravelled the mysteries of titration and enjoyed trying to discover the constituents of the latest minuscule quantity of white powder. Joyce Cox was Mr 'Treacle's' technician and she later became Mrs Lancaster

Mr Wade took Liberal Studies, as it was called, when this was added to the curriculum to 'round' us. As this was not an examinable subject many of us took the' liberal' literally and felt free to catch up on our coursework. A few took part in discussions. We had a debate with the motion proposed by Jack Mothersdale "That this house consider that Radio Luxembourg is a waste of time". As first speaker for the motion, he spoke at some length, Dick Moorman was first opposition spokesman and he raised the roof as his opening sentence  began with words like "Well after those irrelevant mumblings and incoherent burblings     " .. a very apt description of Jack's effort. We also had to give five minute talks on some subject of our choosing but none of our group's offerings has left any lasting impression.

Baz: Back to the staff. Who was it that came from Brazil - was this the nice Mr Dunn? Who was the funny bloke who took us for 'Work Study' and gave the prize to Flab for folding a piece of paper with one hand. Heaven knows what he was supposed to be doing with the other and who could possibly forget, after all these years, John Appleford's magnificent presentation on the life of a dung beetle when the subject was 'aerodynamics and mechanics'! John's excuse at the time was that the dung beetle could roll a dung ball 10 times his (her?) own size. - and what other creature can do that?

Further to Baz's screed, I deny all knowledge of dung beetles! JA

Tea breaks were held in what was originally the chapel annex with its beautiful panelled oak ceiling. It is there that we had our first sight of female RAE students - the Scientific Assistants.

The details in the above script were taken from Mike Mollet-Rogerson’s publication

                                             ROYAL AIRCRAFT ESTABLISHMENT

                                                              CLASS OF 1953

                                        The Apprentices’ Tales published in October 2003.