A Dockyard Apprentice's Story: Hard Graft, Scrapes and Japes on the Long Road to Becoming a Trained Engineer
By: Robert Smith (author)Paperback
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The apprenticeship at Chatham Dockyard is the finest in the world - if you stick to it, the world's your oyster' Robert Smith's dad told his teenage son. When young Robert started there in 1958, the docks employed 6000 people on a two-mile- long site encompassing hundreds of workshops, offices and storehouses as well as its own police station, fire service, medical centre, technical college and telephone exchange. There were three ship-refitting basins and eight main docks. Yet less than 30 years later Chatham Dockyard had effectively closed, with catastrophic consequences to the local economy. Robert did stick to his apprenticeship, and he has never regretted it. Along with the studying and the hard work there were plenty of good times, with laughter and practical jokes, scrapes with motorbikes and cars, encounters with extraordinary characters and moments of excitement - and frustration - with the opposite sex.
Robert Smith was born in Rainham, Kent and attended Orchard Street Secondary Modern and Chatham Technical High School before entering Chatham Dockyard to train as a fitter and turner apprentice in September 1958. He was promoted twice during the 25 years that followed before his service at the dockyard was prematurely ended by its closure in 1983. The engineering career that followed spanned several MoD departments, the Navy, Army and Procurement Executive, several Government agencies and included production, planning, logistics, quality and project tasks. Robert retired in 2000 and now lives in North Kent. He has three married children. A lifelong interest in motorbikes has continued, and he is now preparing to rebuild a veteran BSA machine.
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- ID: 9781909304802
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