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Workplace memories of Mike Fitzpatrick

When my dad was demobbed he managed to get us a small home in Lodge Rd, off Bulls Head lane in Stoke. I was now attending Stoke Secondary school. I missed out on the eleven plus exam, as it was then, but managed to pass an exam at thirteen and attended Coventry Technical College for three years.

The Technical College at the Butts The Butts Technical College in 1952, as it would've looked during Mike's time there.

During the period from ages twelve to sixteen I had a paper route for Scarles the newsagents on the corner of Biggin Hall Crescent and Harris Road. This was a seven morning, six night, fifty weeks a year route for the grand sum of thirteen shillings a week. Giving ten of those shillings to my mum to help with the living costs. I also used to go to work with my dad on a Saturday morning, he worked for Harvey's, a food wholesaler on the London Road, later at Harnell Lane close to the Coventry Transport Garage.

Helen Street, former GEC works, just before closure in 2006.
The 'Helen Street' former GEC works, just before closure in 2006. Mike spent a short time working at this plant, although was mainly based at the GEC's larger 'Telephone Works' at Stoke.
See more great pictures of this and other GEC sites at www.telephoneworks.co.uk

Upon leaving school I started an Electricians Apprenticeship with the GEC Telephone Works. As apprentices we used to organise outings to London for a day's football and shows. I can still see the 8.04 train for London coming steaming into the old station. Steam trains were a thrill to me then and they still are. Got lots of videos of them. The GEC had a great social club and I spent many a happy hour playing darts and snooker there, and also spent at least two or three nights a week dancing in its great ballroom. I enjoyed doing all the lighting and special effects for their annual pantomime. Played for the works cricket team on a Saturday and played for Coventry Transport on a Sunday. They too were great outings visiting other cities' teams.

Upon completing my apprenticeship now it was National Service time. Called up and spent two good years in the RAF and was trained up to be a ground radar fitter. Spent most of my time in Somerset and Berwickshire. After discharge back to the GEC for a year, I then joined Humber-Hillman, Rootes group as it was known then, at the Stoke works, where I would have probably stayed for the duration if it was not for one incident. It was a great job. The incident that was the impetus for me to emigrate started there. There was a strike at the supplier of parts in Oxford, and Rootes finished up making everyone redundant for the length of the strike. I could not afford to be out of work and managed to get a job at Alfred Herbert's. I couldn't go back to Rootes, as I made a promise to Alfred Herbert's that I would not when the strike was over. I did not like working there, had two small boys who would need work down the road, could not see any future for them at this time, so decided to try Canada, where I've been since.

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