Gwynedd County Council tape 12: interview for oral history project. Sample containing about 7785 words speech recorded in leisure context

2 speakers recorded by respondent number C373

PS2W0 Ag5 m (evan john, age 60+, mechanical engineer, Interviewee) unspecified
PS2W1 X m (No name, age unknown, historian, Interviewer) unspecified

1 recordings

  1. Tape 103801 recorded on 1984. LocationGwynedd: Caernarfonshire () Activity: Interview for oral history project Interview/reminiscences

Undivided text

evan john (PS2W0) [1] [...] what d what do you want to know? [laugh]
(PS2W1) [2] [laugh] Can you tell me what your first er job was?
[3] In the quarry?
[4] What you were employed as?
evan john (PS2W0) [5] Oh er I I've only been erm I've only had one job.
[6] I mean er you know, I I was went in as a mechanical fitter and er stayed as such, getting sort of bigger and more responsibl bilities as I went Grew up.
[7] That's all and then I I I was looked after the production machinery for about fifteen years [...] the top here.
[8] I was doing the the new developments [...] as the years went by of course, we didn't stay still for long .
(PS2W1) [9] Can you can you give me some idea of erm w what it was like to start in the quarry as an apprentice?
evan john (PS2W0) [10] W well erm you mean from the day one started sort of thing?
(PS2W1) [11] Yes.
evan john (PS2W0) [12] Er ... well er [laugh] one ... went up ... we we the fitting shop you see, was at [...] .
[13] Erm the it was about I should imagine well guess, three years old back then.
[14] Cos two companies had amalgamated and built one fitting shop.
[15] [...] . The works and the [...] people had sort of amalgamated and so they used the one place where they had a fitting shop.
[16] Did away with one at in at this end, the new quarry.
[17] And er b built a bigger shop, a more modern one.
[18] Er of course one went, started work, very nervous, and er thought that everybody was sort of putting a tape measure [laughing] [...] [] and er Oh to tell you the t truth I I didn't know Well I knew there was one apprentice been there about twelve months or nearly twelve months [...] .
[19] ... They were younger than myself and er we'd been at [...] but er we'd been at [...] together.
[20] We'd started at the same time.
[21] And er of course, one felt a little more a little happier after sort of meeting someone [laughing] you know because it's quite [] and I was very shy at that [...] at that time.
[22] And er of course everybody there were only about what half a dozen fitters in those days and erm ... er as a mark of their profession or trade in those days, they used to wear a white collar you know, with out a tie.
[23] [laugh] And er [laugh] they er well er what shall we say,w we we have got introduc people introduced themselves and asked who I was and who my family was and all that's the usual thing you know.
(PS2W1) [24] Was that important?
[25] Was that considered important?
evan john (PS2W0) [26] Oh yes, they course the there was then er er [...] relatives were then they sort of knew there were some who knew someone [...] or cousin of whatever [...] .
[27] I mean there were so many h Well really whole families working in the quarry in various parts of the quarry you see.
[28] And erm those erm Oh and then I was told which p put me off rather.
[29] Er by the man who or one of the men who swept the shop and kept it clean and all the the the one of the labourers, that my job was to one of my jobs was to make the tea for the men.
[30] So [laugh] that [...] put me off a bit. [laugh]
(PS2W1) [31] Was it true ?
evan john (PS2W0) [32] And I thought Oh yes, yes.
[33] And fetch water for them to wash and that.
[34] And erm so really three times a day I had to er make tea.
[35] Er of course it took a bit of time to learn as to er you know the the rotation [...] who the to take the tea from various men's buckets, they was buckets, or wher wherever they had their stuff in their bags.
[36] And there weren't so many bags carried in those days as there were in later years, you know, the sort of er haversack thing.
[37] And er having to er knowing you know which and what time.
[38] I mean if er that w you you'd had it if if you w ruined for life if you er took one man's see but served two teas.
[39] [laugh] [...] er say er yeah within say er two days or worse still, you could it the same day actually, because they used to have those erm er Have you seen them, those an oval tin with two ends, er it was split in the middle.
[40] Have you seen them?
(PS2W1) [41] Yeah.
evan john (PS2W0) [42] I've got one somewhere in the shed here.
[43] Because you could I mean you could do the empty one [laughing] tin in a day really [] .
[44] And er [laugh] tea and sugar.
[45] But th the thing was that there was a mess room outside the fitting shop actually, but there wasn't much room there because er men from other jobs, er they p from outside, used to go there and eat.
[46] So the our men er the fitters, had erm a table in the shop itself.
[47] Erm with in a corner sort of thing with a [...] thing around it and you know.
[48] It was [...] well I didn't see much sense in that either but er I mean if they were eating on the j er [laughing] eating on the job [...] [] didn't give you a break at all.
[49] But erm anyway, the erm and some of the men, used to go The older men, used to go and er to the smithy and cos er the our the s fitting shop had a three fires at one end you see, where the am blacksmiths were.
[50] Oh they weren't [...] blacksmiths in in the ordinary sense of the word, they weren't quarry blacksmiths as such because they were more or less engine smiths you see.
[51] Yeah.
[52] They had to make and shape things for us well for [laugh] for the fitters, the machine and that you know.
[53] They they were w what would be called in the navy and that er engine smiths.
(PS2W1) [...]
evan john (PS2W0) [54] Cos they worked [...] they didn't bash er ham sledge hammers and things like a [...] shop and the gear for the quarry men as such, they Cos that was the usual work of the erm the blacksmiths outside in the quarry itself you know, in the b on the in the various banks.
[55] There was one, usually one blacksmith per bank really.
(PS2W1) [56] W w w were these
evan john (PS2W0) [...]
(PS2W1) [57] Were these smiths still primarily concerned with forging?
evan john (PS2W0) [58] Yes.
(PS2W1) [59] Were they?
evan john (PS2W0) [60] They they they did the the forge work and all that you see, and they looked after erm the er the inclined brakes What we call the brake.
[61] I haven't I haven't seen heard another name for them really.
[62] Erm they looked after the w the ropes and er [...] there was one one blacksmith, where he used to go on his rounds and check check the wire ropes and the hooks and that on the inclines [...] you know.
[63] Test them for sa Well that the insurance and the I suppose er the the the erm er what is it?
[64] The mining er er you know the there's a a body which looks after the mining [...]
(PS2W1) [65] Oh the inspectorate?
evan john (PS2W0) [66] The inspectorate er men I don't know whether it's the same as the one that looked after the coal field and all that, but erm we we had an inspector coming round every so often anyway.
[67] And erm the the that was part part of their work you see,the these blacksmiths.
[68] And there were ooh a couple of what?
[69] A couple of dozen of these brakes or more.
[70] No at least a couple of dozen, [...] working at that time.
[71] So they were kept really busy.
[72] Some of them were kept really busy just er looking after the brakes and and they they had to er check the er the erm hooks.
[73] They used to take the hooks off the wagon you see, there were two hooks, one each end of the the wagons that they used on the incline.
[74] And then they were put they were er put er in the fire wire brushed and all that and looked and inspected for cracks you see.
[75] And [...] that that came round er [...] I mean they were stamped and er [...] the turn you know the each I I don't I don't remember what [...] what [...] they were examined, but er th you know the the that was the law that they had to be [...] .
[76] There were piles of them in the smithy anyway.
[77] that had been through the fire and they were taken out and you know [...] whoever.
[78] And h Well, no, they were put on the wagons actually.
[79] Which were built in the wagon shops.
[80] [...] And erm
(PS2W1) [81] Can you give me some idea of some of the other trades that were represented in the er in the shop?
evan john (PS2W0) [82] Oh erm ... they erm ... they did a lot of the work that were Well they helped out at least, they they used to make wearing plates for the mills and that for the chutes and that.
[83] You see.
[84] Erm ... oh they ... what else?
[85] ... [...] ... Erm oh there were a thousand and one things I [laugh] I can't really erm you know they they were always they were at it hammer and tongs you know [...] they had er s what would be called something similar to a steam hammer and you know.
(PS2W1) [86] Did they?
evan john (PS2W0) [87] To do the job, yeah.
[88] Er you know the the they had a f what was it?
[89] Four hundred weight, pneumatic hammer.
[90] So you can imagine the the the the he the amount of heavy work that they had as well.
(PS2W1) [91] Did they ever have a foundry?
[92] Did they have a
evan john (PS2W0) [93] No er well, No er not not that I remember.
[94] But erm I remember er h having I was quite interested actually, er there was er a sort of loft in the stores.
[95] And there were patterns up in this store you see.
(PS2W1) [96] Mm.
evan john (PS2W0) [97] [laugh] And I but I couldn't get up at them, the the storekeeper [laughing] was fairly strict [] with us youngsters and he used to chase us.
[98] But erm they were oh m er wooden er gear wheels, of all sizes and such things, you know.
[99] Up in this loft say.
[100] So I don't know whether they'd been sending them away, to be er as patterns to some other firm or what, but there was quite a quant there was er a quantity of of casting sand you know [...] black stuff that you use.
[101] Around the the the shop so, obviously they'd been either been casting brass, at some time or other.
[102] Obviously [...] .
[103] They didn't do I I understand that the the quarries at [...] and and those places used to cast their own stuff, but erm ... I I haven't I never heard of them actually casting anything erm ferrous anyway.
[104] But erm the ... what we o very often did was er we used to run our own own bearings with white metal.
[105] And we had er a special erm furnace for that.
[106] And er we used to run Well most of our bearings, actually er white metal bearings and machine them afterwards.
[107] And er we cast during the dark days of the war, [laugh] when toys weren't available, we [laugh] a few older blokes er apprentices used to I remember being at it for a couple of [...] hard week we had a hard week, well evening during the evenings anyway.
[108] Er working, sweating like like er real steel men,ca turning out soldiers [laughing] and er [] and erm e somebody'd got hold of a mould of these er er toy soldiers you know, the old er lead soldiers that er
(PS2W1) [109] Yeah.
evan john (PS2W0) [110] They used to come out in threes I think [...] moulds.
[111] And some aero aero aeroplane erm g er ... er what er I think they were If I remember rightly, they were the [...] er Oh dear.
[112] Forget the name of the plane now for the moment.
[113] Yes well.
[114] There were hundred of them flying round the end of the during the war.
[115] Oh, designed for the coastguard.
[116] Er coastal command.
[117] ... Oh dear, never mind.
[118] But we you know, one was one would be boiling the the white metal, we'd we'd fixed on the [...] and er ... one would be boiling and pouring the stuff and the other cutting y you know breaking up the the mould sort of thing [...] and piling the stuff out and as fast as we were piling them up, some beggar was [laughing] creeping in and stealing them [] .
[119] Oh dear.
[120] [laugh] You know, in actual fact, one of the men working in the in the in the carpenter's shop.
[121] He was he'd been hurt that was the usu that's why some of the men did.
[122] He'd been er had an accident in the quarry some time ago and he was working in the helping as a mate or something [...] [laughing] in the carpenter's shop [] and he he must have been h [...] must have had his hands in our pile of finished products and er [laugh] Well partly finished products and er he er he was caught one of the [...] cos er these castings [...] there was a an edge to them you know, [...] the joint of the the mould that came together sort of thing.
[123] They had to be filed clean.
[124] This beggar had come in to the fitting shop, [...] corner at the back corner, where he shouldn't have been.
[125] I mean he wasn't supposed to be in the fitting shop anyways.
[126] So the the manager our greatest enemy, we used to know when he started from the house [laughing] in the morning actually by [] quarry [...] that er he was coming, but the on this particular day anyway, somebody had slipped up somewhere.
[127] And he saw this bloke you see, where he shouldn't have been.
[128] Er filing away.
[129] And [...] he had this this erm casting of a plane you know he was cleaning up the [laughing] edges [] [...] gave the game away [laughing] of course then [] .
[130] Oh dear.
[131] Anyway we I think we supplied dozens of youngs kids that had no toys during the war.
[132] [...] you know.
[133] [...] . Erm yes well th that's the only erm casting you know, that we did.
[134] [...] bearings for for you know, shafts [...] mills really the old type crushers in mills that They were really old fashioned crushers.
[135] And they had to be the bearings had to be either you had to have a s a set ready at all times sort of thing you know so a spare set.
[136] Erm yeah oh the bearings we we they usually were bought from They were American er brass bearings, huge brass things you know.
[137] They used to cost [...] about two hundred pounds in those days and that was a heck of a sum [laughing] in those days [] [...] you know [...] that sort of thing, how much they cost and had to be careful of them and all that.
[138] And erm the other crusher, the Buchanan crusher up in in here, the the the primary crusher, the American one.
[139] Well that that used to be sent away the o the main bearing the main er jaw bearing [...] that was on the [...] .
[140] It was usually about six Was it?
[141] Er somewhere about Aye getting on for five five foot long.
[142] Erm th that was sent away to London [...] white metal that that that was quite a costly affair as well.
[143] That's the one that you see in this er book you know. [...] .
(PS2W1) [144] Is that the one which was having the [...] ?
evan john (PS2W0) [145] Yes cuts in it.
[146] Yes yes.
[147] Yes.
[148] And erm [...] the old chief that designed er er erm ... a boring bath for it for boring that.
[149] They they didn't they they just cast them roughly.
[150] Well not roughly I mean they I mean they didn't sort of finish them off w wherever they was s sent to in ... whatever the firm I I I don't know the name of the firm, I was I wasn't involved in [...] didn't bother as long as the job was done.
[151] And erm the He made a boring bath so that the whole block it it was a massive thing you know, that that that had to be [...] .
[152] I should imagine weighed somewhere about ... five six hundredweight.
[153] [...] the capping.
[154] Cos of the design of this crusher affair, the whole weight was carried on the c what could be the bap of the bearing you know, the bearing cap.
(PS2W1) [...]
evan john (PS2W0) [155] [...] the whole lot [...] down you see.
(PS2W1) [156] Oh I see.
evan john (PS2W0) [157] On the [...] on the [...] You There was only the [...] was only er three quarter of an inch out of centre sort of thing you know, but the shaft weighed ten tonne and you have this huge [...] and it just l revolved of course and and the whole lot revolved under this cap.
[158] So the whole weight of the whole er the gear that actually sent the crusher going and made it so the jaws the swing jaw swing [laugh] and all that, was er hanging on the cap you see.
[159] It didn't matter, the other half didn't matter because it didn't come into contact really with the with the shaft.
[160] And erm ... the Oh he'd made [...] I'm getting er losing my track.
[161] But er he'd made er a boring bath from the chassis of a [...] steam engine.
[162] There was a spare [laughing] one lying around [] [...] We'd finished u er stopped using them [...] during the war [...] some time during the war.
[163] Cos coal was hard to get and all that.
[164] And er gone on to diesel.
[165] And this old chassis had been built up so that this bearing lay on that and it was turned by [...] and electric motor and all that and the boring bar went tool went and bored this bearing out and travelled along on its own [...] its own It was fed off course.
[166] [...] you know it was a quite a a brilliant idea really [...] .
[167] Cos he was a brilliant man actually my my boss er my chief at the time.
[168] He was the erm he came from Anglesey.
[169] And he'd been apprenticed in Liverpool ... with a firm called they were ship repairers in Liverpool.
[170] And er I suppose he he'd gone there when he was about thirteen fourteen and er he came from a family from Where was it [...] .
[171] And some of his rel relatives they farmed but some of his relatives were blacksmiths as well you see.
[172] So he'd sort of had a well I suppose he'd messed around [...] helped and played about in the smithy.
[173] Before he even started erm when he before he went to Liverpool as an apprentice.
[174] But he was a brilliant man he was years ahead of his time really.
[175] Erm ... Ingersoll Rand w wanted him in America.
[176] He was offered a job in America with Ingersoll Rand but he wouldn't go.
[177] And erm he was by the way he was the er step erm father in law of the man who erm ... owned who was the erm building firm er in er er Oh dear they've gone now.
[178] It's just been taken over by you know, it's gone into the big big time er Oh dear me, I forget his name now.
[179] [...] name of the man.
[180] G ... Anyway
(PS2W1) [...]
evan john (PS2W0) [181] Oh er and er er he had a son who was a a dentist in .
[182] John quite a well known dent he was a very good dentist.
[183] I suppose he [...] he erm William, William Owen old chief.
[184] He used to bring his tools up during the war [...] to er to er so be seen to you know.
[185] Cos they they were hard to get [...] .
[186] [laugh] . Oh yes [...] .
[187] And er one of the men that was helping the old man to to do something, to repair the the these tools you know, and he he'd gone to the stores to get something and leaning over the counter to get something er er to sort of talk [...] as one goes on a on a counter lean he was leaning a on the counter, and he erm [laugh] the the the storeman he was a tough little beggar, and he said, I've got a I've got a I've got a toothache.
[188] he says.
[189] And [...] asked him you know, Erm which one is it?
[190] And the other silly beggar opened his mouth and pointed to a tooth you know.
[191] [laughing] And he just dived in there and [...] [] and got hold of it these tools er once you get a hold of those things [...] you know they they're pretty They're fantastic you they won't.
[192] I mean them they're designed to er so that they don't slip or anything.
[193] And he held on the handle and he pulled the ruddy tooth out.
[194] [laugh] But he pulled [...] thing was sorry thing was [laughing] that he pulled the one next to the one that he had a toothache in [] .
[195] Wow [laugh] .
[196] [...] was tough, he's still alive in [...] .
[197] Er couldn't have done him any harm.
[198] And er No but erm that's how the the old chief [...] .
[199] Erm as I say he was a he was brilliant man er I mean we all we I'm about one of the last of the ones that were taught under him.
[200] I mean we were very fortunate in having been app er apprenticed under him you see.
(PS2W1) [201] Were you were you aware, before you went there, that erm you were going into You were going to serve under someone who was rather talented?
evan john (PS2W0) [202] Well I'd heard of him yes.
[203] But I was er here I was one of the first People have forgotten that there was such a thing as a fitting shop in you know, in .
[204] And I started a fashion really in going, cos no-one had er thought of the thing for many many many years.
[205] And erm ... [...] later on let's see f when the war started and I mean they wanted cheap labour and all that, there was room for apprentice.
[206] Several boys went to the fi [laugh] to the fitting shop you see but the I'd started I claimed to have started [...] I mean it's I mean there's no credit to me but at least I was the first You know I'd really started the thing you know.
(PS2W1) [207] Where had they come from before then?
evan john (PS2W0) [208] Oh usually.
[209] Yes.
(PS2W1) [...]
evan john (PS2W0) [210] Yes.
[211] Yes.
[212] They knew
(PS2W1) [...]
evan john (PS2W0) [213] more about it yes.
[214] was the Well I suppose they had first claim in .
[215] [...] that sort of thing yeah.
[216] But they came with the chief being an Anglesey man you see, they came from Anglesey as well to ... erm ... they used to come a lot in and erm as apprentices you know [laugh] And er Aye no, the ol same old game again that er we in Wales seem to inherit it's in I suppose it's in the B B C and everywhere isn't it.
[217] [laugh] It's not what you know, it's who you know.
[218] And er somebody's got a relative somewhere [...] .
[219] I mean [...] happened even even with the monarchy and all that [...] [laughing] most Welsh people ran ran England when they didn't have it really did they [] .
[220] These families that left Wales to help out with the Tudor and all that.
[221] [cough] Erm I still er think I think they're still running Britain aren't they. [break in recording]
evan john (PS2W0) [222] [...] gone way out I've gone gone through to get to ... to Llandudno.
[223] Erm th this tea making was a a er job of course there was a a break at nine o'clock you see.
[224] Cos we started at at half past seven.
[225] I used to catch a bus ten to seven, down when the [...] in those days.
[226] Never been late in my life.
[227] Erm the erm Course the the blasting was on at nine.
[228] They used to blast, first blasting at nine o'clock, throughout the quarry you see so everybody had to go in so that was an excuse for a break.
[229] About ten minutes break.
[230] [laugh] Then [laugh] cos you had er ... three warnings you got five minutes before and er then you had a the erm final warning and then the blasting and the they give you the all clear.
[231] I mean it took about ten minutes, quarter of an hour altogether.
[232] So if these beggars up at the top [...] it was had been er thought out [...] had a break well er it was alri =right for the others working down in the bottom to have a a break.
[233] [...] So nine o'clock break.
[234] [...] make the tea, go round the Used to take about three helpings of tea to make the the [laughing] the bottle [] .
[235] I remember we I had this sort of enamel brown enamel jug, ooh it was mm must have been [...] somewhere about [...] four.
[236] Mm couple of pints at least eh.
[237] Oh [...] more three pints I'm sure.
[238] Er and erm I used to put it in this and go to ... out into the mess room outside where they there was a cook and it was a very grand name for a person you know, a cook.
[239] [laugh] It's almost as grand as a chef these days isn't it.
[240] The bloke who [laughing] sits [] behind the ship in the chip shop.
[241] [laugh] Banging that basket he had they have, [laugh] Erm [laugh] and er ... the er used to go there er and there was a boil or was it er er an old fashioned I don't know.
[242] Have you se have you seen them the old fashioned boilers they used to have?
[243] Er sort of
(PS2W1) [...]
evan john (PS2W0) [244] Yes, half spherical,
(PS2W1) [245] Yes.
evan john (PS2W0) [246] cast iron.
[247] Built er with bricks built round it and er a tap we used to have a tap on it you see.
[248] And the cook in that mess room and the cook was always a youngster who started in the quarry.
[249] That's the way you started, up a ladder to the to be a managing director [laugh] .
(PS2W1) [250] A cook.
evan john (PS2W0) [251] You know like like the [...] this thing about every soldier having a a a field marshall's baton in his [laughing] knapsack [] .
[252] [...] anyway erm they started at [laugh] [...] Well [...] you know quite an easy job but the the er s their wage was about sev I I I I forget.
[253] I d I wouldn't know.
[254] I think my my starting salary at fifteen was seven and six.
[255] Out of that I had to find, threepence a day erm bus fare.
[256] Excuse me.
[257] And we worked six w six I mean we worked Saturday mornings you know, six o'clock.
[258] Plus er ... going up going to [...] you know, all that.
[259] Sos there wasn't much [laughing] left of the seven and six to kee feed me and all that [] .
[260] And er I think after [...] and when I became sixteen that er had to start paying your your m paying the union I had to join the union as a junior member [...] you know.
[261] And er hospital fund and all this business.
[262] Anyway erm so you [...] [laugh] .
[263] our standard of living Well our standard of living was alright.
[264] I mean er didn't bring much home.
[265] And er the cook I think the boys e [...] had about er started on ten shillings [...] you know, ten shillings a week.
[266] Erm but er that was this boy's job and then he used to er you know, scrub the tables in the rest room and [...] of course boil the water [...] first thing in the morning.
[267] And er wash the cups and And he used to have to go running er down with messages down to or down to the head office rather that we had an office in [...] where where our fitting shop was where there was a draughtsman's office.
[268] And a store, a store a sort of store clerk.
[269] Cos we had other people concerned with the stores down in the head office as well, the buyers and [...] .
[270] And a couple of young clerks, that's where they bred their clerks for the future use sort of thing you know.
(PS2W1) [271] I see.
evan john (PS2W0) [272] [laughing] [...] [] And this cook had to go down and carry messages back and forth and all [...] that was his job as cook.
[273] [cough] Not [laugh] he he couldn't handle a [cough] a roast duck or er couldn't roast a duck or [laughing] anything like that you know.
[274] Or make orange sauce or er anything of that sort [] .
[275] Er and I don't think any other [...] most of them started and they're still here some of them.
[276] Er [laughing] [...] [] still roast a duck [...] any more than I can.
[277] Well er not without a a book of instructions anyhow beside me anyway.
[278] Er anyway the that was the cook's job and that was my job, I used to sort of go across and fetch this tea [...] and have it ready by the time the men gave up work at nine o'clock.
[279] But er I used to go [clears throat] I didn't eat with the men you weren't allowed to eat with the men you see, it was only the full men that sat round this table well
(PS2W1) [280] That was [...]
evan john (PS2W0) [281] Half about eight of them you see.
[282] Well it was the same [...] no distinction at all in that sense, but er you know we were sort of they had more serious things to talk about than I wan er you know I knew the cook, er couple of o other apprentices from the carpenters shop [...] we used to go into the main th there was no-one to keep an eye on us [...] in the in the mess-room you see, no-one to tell us.
[283] So we could play.
[284] And erm at the same time there was an old mill there as well, with an old er engine room.
[285] Which had apparently been a a steam There had been a steam engine turning this er mill crushing mill and er er I remember there was a name in in this engine it was Queen of the Valley.
[286] And erm we used to go and play in that sort of you know [...] do the things that boys usually do.
[287] Sort of Oh we used to risk our necks walking across the ruddy this mill was a bit of a wreck actually and we used to go playing in places where we shouldn't have really.
[288] Anyway, that's beside the point.
[289] But erm and then at during er before lunch and all that I used to have to go take a bucket and go to the smithy and erm as you may know, there's a a cooling er tank beside in the in er beside every every every erm blacksmith's fire and er you know to bo keep the er no t no to keep the nozzle of the
(PS2W1) [290] Of the blower?
evan john (PS2W0) [291] blower going you see.
(PS2W1) [292] Oh.
evan john (PS2W0) [293] How do you do?
[294] How do you do?
(PS2W1) [295] Hi.
evan john (PS2W0) [296] And this co er and used to get w hot water from this tank you see, lift it out with a ooh with some sort with a ladle actually.
[297] Er and er put it in the bucket and [...] get the right temperature.
[298] Up my elbow [laughing] [...] [] and er ... [...] anyway put it used to take it back to the shop and er well I was still inside the shop, down to a certain place in the shop and put it on a on a stand and then there'd be a on that stand, beside the bucket, was a a box of ... not Lux not Lux soap [laughing] but er [] yellow soap.
(PS2W1) [299] Oh yes.
evan john (PS2W0) [300] [...] in Welsh.
[301] And erm slabs of it it had been cut like er it looked you know if you sort of cut lard or something like that.
[302] No you don't belong to that age either do you.
[303] Erm you know you get it in packets now anyway.
[304] But er you know used to sli cut it out of er big chunks.
[305] [...] But er there's be lump of this y yellow er stuff you know.
[306] And beside that again, another box full of erm well partly full [...] depended on what time of the week it was.
[307] Erm dust quarry dust and er ... very very fine chippings you know.
[308] So you got a handful of this yellow soap.
[309] And er rubbed it and it was quite very hard you know.
[310] And er put a dollop er dipped your hand into this the grit as well started rubbing [...] [] using the water we'd got.
[311] Some hot water.
[312] And see my hands they they they're quite they're they're exactly like a er well shall we say an educated person's hand A person who's spent his life working behind a desk.
[313] But you know it's funny how why [...] it was so I mean the grit and those were quite sharp you know You you'd have thought that it would have taken your skin but then it was ideal stuff for getting the grease the you know the dirt and I mean the the greasy dirt away.
[314] [...] It's easy enough to dirt [...] .
[315] That was the method that we used and I didn't I never heard I didn't hear of dermatitis or anything until well twenty five years afterwards.
[316] Erm I mean the [...] one could very easily have have got er some form of dermatitis with all the you know various oils and stuff that we had to put our hands in.
[317] But erm [clears throat] and all the old [...] mill [...] for milling that we used to used I mean [...] kept our hands clean anyway.
[318] So that was one job a and then we had a big used to beg for a an old sack from the stores and open that out and er I used to wash them wash it and get it very soft and clean and hang that up and [...] that's the way used to [laughing] clean [...] and keep ourselves cl hands clean [] .
[319] And er but for all this, erm funny enough we we had er a fair in twice a year.
[320] [...] we haven't had one for oh many what fifteen, twenty years a co er there used to be a couple of women used to come to sell rock.
[321] Up to about twen they kept the thing going their pitch going I suppose twen to about twenty years ago.
[322] But we had a a spring fair in April and the other [...] in October.
[323] I think so.
[324] And the [...] fair was on the first of October.
[325] [...] somewhere round that time.
[326] I I'd er you know [...] the older men would tell you.
[327] Cos I I didn't sort of go by fairs and things like that, I belonged to a different generation.
[328] Erm but erm come the time had come for for the fair let's say the the the Spring fair.
[329] [...] I'd get quite a surprise because [...] very s small number of men in the shop.
[330] I get about shillings eight and six, nine bob pocket money.
[331] Fair money they used to call it you see.
(PS2W1) [332] Mhm.
evan john (PS2W0) [333] Er ... I know er perhaps I was er ... civil or obedient [laughing] or whatever, I don't know [] but er I I they u they used to have this this collection for the for supposedly for carrying the water, I don't know.
[334] [...] But erm er it was a a nice sum to be to take with you to the fair [...] .
[335] You know.
[336] Er because it was more than a weeks [laughing] wages [...] [] .
[337] To spend [...] evening.
[338] And [...] used to happen twice a year and erm sometimes somebody'd remember my birthday or find that I had my birthday or and at Christmas time we used to get some money.
[339] And this was out of a you know er I mean they were only what Oh couldn't be more than about six ... eight people working in the Well not actually fitters but er you know, they were involved within the shop sort of thing.
[340] I don't know how many t other people were approached in this collection, I don't know.
[341] But erm they were you know they were exceedingly kind really.
[342] Yeah they were very kind too.
[343] Cos their salary we we well their wages weren't much.
[344] They I believe [clears throat] that er a craftsman's wage was somewhere [...] they'd a take home pay at the end of the fortnight.
[345] You'll notice that I say end of the fortnight, that was the settling time [...] .
[346] Er was three guineas.
(PS2W1) [347] Was it?
evan john (PS2W0) [348] It was one and three an hour.
[349] [...] the craftsman and fitter's rate in those days.
[350] And a labourer's rate was eleven pence an hour.
(PS2W1) [351] Mm.
[352] Wh what erm what ye what year would this be that you sort of s
evan john (PS2W0) [353] I don't k nineteen thirty seven maybe?
(PS2W1) [354] Thirty seven?
evan john (PS2W0) [355] Yeah.
(PS2W1) [356] Mm.
evan john (PS2W0) [357] Yeah.
[358] And erm ... you know it was a a bad time really b you know it was the thirties I mean people say it's bad now but er I don't think it's it's as bad now as it was then.
[359] I know the unemployment figures may be higher and all this business, but erm I mean er [laugh] a single person during those days, er say a young man in his teens, working would been s stopped in the quarry.
[360] They were bad times, they used to stop.
[361] Er they were very fair er if I may bring in er this has nothing to do with my er well no it has as well.
[362] You know friends of mine, I knew them.
[363] Erm they were quite fair the the in this quarry then.
[364] Cos if it was slack or anything they they used to stop the bachelors first you know.
(PS2W1) [365] I see.
evan john (PS2W0) [366] Er you know I I I af I mean after I didn't think anything of it, and in those days I was too young of course to think of th things like that.
[367] But thinking back I mean they they were it was very good of them really you know,the they were very fair.
[368] Er in the way that they and they sort of well I suppose it was [...] the situation in which the quarries [...] you know sort of or and .
[369] And er the ... foreman and bosses that knew people and they knew the circumstances and ... I suppose they put a word in and erm you know men were sort of stopped because er I mean, if a man had a house full of children or something, he'd probably be the very last [...] you know [...] before he was sort of forced to g you know sacked or wh And I mean they weren't sacked in a sense, they was always ready there was a place ready for them to come back to there.
[370] But erm
(PS2W1) [371] So
evan john (PS2W0) [372] laid off I suppose would be a [laugh] more appropriate way of s of putting it.
(PS2W1) [373] So that it was it was generally thought of as being a fair system [...] ?
evan john (PS2W0) [374] Yes.
[375] In the main I I should think yes.
[376] You know you know erm a young man ... I mean it was er er reasonable wasn't it for a a single man to be laid off before a married man with family family responsibilities.
[377] And er generally er with families being larger er in those days, erm there'd be perhaps another couple of sons working or or something like to help.
[378] [...] make a family income you know or or increase the family income.
[379] Or So they could all eat at least.
[380] And erm ... no well as I say, erm I think they were pretty fair.
[381] ... I mean f I d I doubt whether firms would do it these days eh?
(PS2W1) [382] [laugh] It wouldn't be considered fair today anyway.
evan john (PS2W0) [383] No the union would step in probably and er ... say that er last in er first out or some ruddy
(PS2W1) [384] Mm.
evan john (PS2W0) [385] nonsense like that eh?
[386] But that's the memory I have of it eh? [...]
(PS2W1) [387] Wh when you went in as an apprentice, did you have any i i idea of what the job was.
[388] What it entailed?
evan john (PS2W0) [389] Oh yes, erm you know, having been brought up w in a [laugh] you could almost say a quarrying atmosphere [laughing] [...] [] that's the right er expression but erm I mean one knew what w went on in the quarry you know.
[390] Erm ... mind you it was really a step onto something else that as far as I was concerned in those days I meant o go to sea of course and er that was the best place you could have er to serve an apprenticeship because everything er I mean it was one of the As everything was starting to get specialized in in other works nowadays [...] it's gone completely now.
[391] But erm we had a sort of a [...] spectrum [...] you know it covered such a wide ... well area if you like of er of engineering that one wouldn't have had a chance to to have a any contact with in in any other works, you'd be doing as one certain sphere you know [...] a certain type of work, and there you are you that's your lot eh?
[392] But we covered everything you know, steam engines and diesel engines and oh crushers and construction work and development and [...] pneumatic gear, compressors and oh any damn thing that went going.
[393] We made everything ourselves more or less.
[394] And had a hand in ... oh designing really there.
[395] We were always taught This er comes back again.
[396] I think er you know this our our boss, er who ... Mr as he was called he was given his full title of er [laughing] Mr [] William Owen , then.
[397] I mean er much more should have been something should have been Aye he's well worth er within the engineering world at least, well worth looking into his life really.
[398] Because he he he's done a a you know he he he's been a a a a what shall I say, a Well he's done a lot really to to to to to promote erm interest in engineering and all that and and he's done a lot in helping er to young men to become engineers and that you know.
[399] He he he's erm really er the results of his his interest in teaching.
[400] Er North Wales you know have have benefited.
[401] Firms in North Wales here along the coast which came after the war of course.
(PS2W1) [402] Can you sort of amplify that if you can?
evan john (PS2W0) [403] Well [clears throat] As I told you to begin with, he he he he must he was a man was er years ahead of his tim really.
[404] I mean and he he although he er he wasn't a graduate or anything like that I mean he he was a brilliant engineer.
[405] His ideas are as I [...] they they say that he was er I don't know how much truth I [...] that he was the first that he patented and devised the first rotating drilling machine.
[406] Rock drilling machine you see.
[407] Cos the f the the the they did have pneumatic drilling machines [...] quarries.
[408] For ooh [...] from beginning of the century I suppose.
[409] But they were only hammers in a sense.
[410] They only hammered the they the the they didn't rotate.
(PS2W1) [411] I see.
evan john (PS2W0) [412] They just r r rammed their way and you had an man the they had a man they tell me I I've never seen one But erm [...] this was as far as I can make out er by the [...] They had a man standing by you see with a a spanner and er gave it a quarter turn every time it hammered the the drill sort of hit the rock, went into the and hammered.
[413] They had to give it a quarter turn you see with a spanner.
[414] But erm that [...] old the A and B we used to call them actually.
[415] A and B. Erm [laughing] [...] there was no dis disrespect but A and B [] [...] and er he'd erm he devised a method he what he did he rifled the inside of the the piston.
[416] He rifled the inside of the the the the cylinder [...] and the piston was rifled as well, you know slightly ribbed, so as it went forward it turned you see.
[417] Came back and there was a er [...] it couldn't turn cos there was erm Oh dear I'm forgetting my engineering terms but er you know it's a that's the [...] .
[418] And that's this is er I think I've already told you that he was offered a job with Ingersoll Rand which were the main er people that dealt with air and air products in the old days.
[419] The American firm.
[420] They tried to get him to America you see.
[421] But he wouldn't go there.
[422] William didn't want to take his overalls off.
[423] [laugh] Because he he liked to work with his hands.
[424] Yes he was a heck of a man.
[425] He could he was a brilliant machinist and er oh crikey I've seen him turn out a a three throw er crankshaft within a couple of days er you know without any precise measuring and and and in fact he just sort of put his roll on on on a on the shaft he was turning and just sort of gave him an idea as to I mean his eye was almost as good as many a bloke's measur measurement with a rule.
[426] [laugh] But er a three throw crankshaft for a bump you know [...] couple of days to erm [...] he was a heck of a man.
[427] And he dis We had I haven't told you er didn't tell you or h I er don't think I've told you have I, that we did have a ... a chemist in the quarry you know.
[428] Full time chemist.
(PS2W1) [429] Would he be analyzing samples?
evan john (PS2W0) [430] Yeah analyzing [...] yes.
[431] Mr his name was.
[432] And he apparently was a very very nice man too er I mean he was I mean er er er er a nice disposition I mean yeah.
[433] [...] they stand out [...] .
[434] And er oh he he was ... he erm ... during the war now come nineteen thirty nine and that stale period when er there was nothing doing really in France, between the time that er our expedition [...] to the to the Maginot line and all that.
[435] Er ... he went over s there was a plane laid on for him and he was ve went over very often to advise them on fortifications on all their concrete fortifications in France.
(PS2W1) [436] Did he?
evan john (PS2W0) [437] Yes yeah.
[438] [...] Very well thought off actually.
[439] And he designed some er I remember them being built.
[440] Erm air raid shelters.
[441] Built to his design under the rock face up at the top here in .
[442] And er [...] concrete and all [...] stuff.
[443] And er [...] rock er dropped [...] use that expression, they used they were both right at the at the foot of the ... quarry face or precipice or whatever [...] somewhere around a hundred foot high and then th they blasted the top see and dropped a whole fall.
[444] A fall is what we call you know a bundle of [laugh]
(PS2W1) [445] Rock.
evan john (PS2W0) [446] rock there.
[447] [cough] Ah excuse me.
[448] [cough] And erm on this er ... structure and obviously there wasn't a [...] everything was fine inside it.
[449] Mind you, no-one volunteered to stay inside when it was [...] .
[450] But erm all the intact [...] [recording ends]