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Post Office Factory. Fordrough Lane

el-stano

Ex-lurker
Reg Neal, When i was at the factory, the Foreman was Albert Wadley other names i recall, Arthur Eke, Dorrington, the Timmins brothers, "Sailor" Brown, Bluck & Stagg, i had left before 1947. Len.
Hi Len,
Could the Dorrington you remember have been Fred? He was my paternal grandfather. I'm sure I was told that he was awarded an MBE or suchlike for 40-something years at the PO factory but I don't know where it was. He died aged 96 sometime in the mid-1970s so he would have retired in the 1940s. His wife was Ethel and they lived in Woodwells Rd (Alum Rock) for many years.
Cheers,
Stan
 

lencops

gone but not forgotten
Hi Stan, Fred Dorrington was his name & he was working at the Garrison Lane factory when i started in 1943 at 14yrs old, he worked on the telephone cable adjusters which tensioned the cable between the telephone pole & the house, office, factory etc it had a quick release so the Linesman could work on it, Fred sold bags of apples, pears & tomatoes for 1/2d or 1d according to the amount in the bag, it was mid WW2, our wage (my pals & i called ourselves slaves not workers!!) was 10s/6d per/wk basic for working 48hrs which included Saturday morning, after a a year it rose by 1shilling, they had strange type of piecework system which was not very lucrative. Len.
 
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lencops

gone but not forgotten
Tap Wrench/Clamp made by me in the the metalwork school at Fordrough Lane 14/15yrs old, used for British Association 0/BA to 8/BA size taps, we Junior Fitters had to attend 2 mornings each week we also made a thread die holder, small set square & a vee block, i night a week we were given 2 slices of bread and Jam + a mug of tea in the Fordrough Lane canteen and then went to Malborough Rd School, Bordesley Green for maths, mechanical drawing etc from 6pm-8pm and air raids and the blackout was in force. Len. (Every worker had round brass circle with a number on, as you can see mine was 2053. Len.)
 

Reg Neal

proper brummie kid
Hi Len, I started at Fordrough Lane in August 1940, check No:1022. I attended the training classes as you did but did not go to Marlborough Rd. We did all our lessons at F/L, I still have my Tap Holder, made under the guidance of Jimmy West. I did that from the August until the big raids in November 19/ 21st when all of F Block (where the School was) was destroyed and G Block went up too, and that was the Canteen gone.That was the end of my instruction and I spent the next 4 years working and learning in the Machine Shop to be a Fitter. Worked for Jack Daniels, Wal Green, and later for Bill Watts on the Auto Capstans. In '44 the War Office caught up with me and a few others like Johnnie Powell and Albert Dean and after various adventures we reappeared in Jan. 47 as Fitters. I stayed until August 55 and flew into the wider world of Engineering. My first Foreman was Nobby Clark and you had to get a large brass strip as a Pass to go to the Canteen for a cuppa. All the best . Reg Neal.
 

Reg Neal

proper brummie kid
Hi Stan, I knew Fred Dorrington quite well, shared a small workshop at Garrison Lane for about 5 years, he would eat a whole Spanish Onion every day, claiming the it prevented colds, smelled the shop out,but it seemed to work. He was awarde the MBE about 49/50, i was at the ceremony which was carried out in the Machine Shop at G/Lane by the then Lord Lieutenant of Warwickshire Willoughby de Brooke. We switched off all the machines for 10 minutes. We were all there, Johnnie Bluck, Jo Moon, Timmins, Alf Ridge, Tommy Harrison, Alan Jarvis.... I could go on. I knew two of Freds sons, I have forgotten the name of the youngest, but saw a lot of Norman who for a numberof years was running the Maintenance Dept with Jack Daniels. Fred lived in Woodwells Road his gateway had a privet arch right over. He was a very skilled Fitter.
Reg Neal.
 

el-stano

Ex-lurker
Hi Len,
Grandad selling fruit and veg rings true. He also kept bantams in the back garden for eggs. Even after retirment he had a few sidelines. He worked part-time at a hardware shop cutting keys till he was over 80. It was near the Pelham and I think it was called Parkins.
Cheers,
Stan
PS Thanks for your memories.
 

el-stano

Ex-lurker
Hi Reg,
Thanks for your post. I well remember the privet arch. Not there now, though. Norman was from Fred's first marriage. He had a newsagents at some point. David was from the second marriage and is my father.
All the best.
Stan
 

lencops

gone but not forgotten
Post Office Factory. Fordrough Lane, another view of the factory being reduced to rubble. Len.
 

Radiorails

master brummie
I stumbled across this thread today. Strangely I had recently looked at Fordrough Lane on 'Google' and noticed it was being redeveloped (at the time of photographing).

My fist employment from school was at the POF, Fordrough Lane in the early 1950's. I was persuaded by parents that this was the up and coming profession to be in and to a degree that was true. However, I was not comfortable handling small screws and components and unknown to me 'piece work' was at the end of my training period. After six months I left and obtained new employment in a research department at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital but I did not like the work. Luckily my next employment was with Philip Harris of Edmund Street, who were in the pharmaceutical business - which was right up my street (metaphorically speaking). I was with them for a while until my relocation to Devon in 1954. Within the year I had joined the RAF which saw me out for the next few years.

One aspect of the POF employment which I did enjoy was the twice weekly trip, by an e-BCT double deck bus (AOP 753), to Bournville to the Day Continuation College. I liked Bournville and it surroundings; whilst I enjoyed trips into the city, which were usually exciting, I was not a natural city dweller.
 

familysearch

New Member
I worked at this Factory from the time I left school at the age of 14 years.Started in August 1940 and attended the in house Engineering School. Unfortunately this was cut short when the Blitz started in earnest, the factory was badly hit in November 19th and 21st. H Block was destroyed and so was G Block. I worked there until my call-up came in December 1944 and I finished up in the Artillery in the Far East. Came home in 1947 and went back to Garrison Lane Factory. Would love to hear from any contempories of those far off days.
In 1940 I worked in the Machine Shop, at one time on the Auto Capstans under the watchful eye of Bill Watts,at other times under Jack Daniels, The Shop Foreman was Jack Clark known as Nobby by the adults but addressed as MR CLARK by us boys. I was paid 3d an hour and worked a 48 hour week for 12/6d. There must be someone out there that knew some one
working there. Give us a shout please.
I am researching my dad's history, and I would be grateful for any information about him that anyone has. His name was Frank Cotterell and he worked as an engineer at the Post Office in Fordrough Lane from about 1930 until he died in 1962. I know he signed the official secrets act when the WW2 started. I would really like to know what sort of work he might have been doing, especailly if it had anything to do with the Colossus machine which helped to break the Enigma code. Because he died at the early age of 49, I would also very appreciate finding out anything about him as a person - what he was like to work with etc. My children and grandchildren are also very keen to know more about the grandad they never knew.
 

Radiorails

master brummie
Looking at the demolition photograph I notice a low brick building to the right. If I remember correctly this would be the 'gate house', or whatever it was called, where one collected or handed in the brass disks upon which we punched your factory number.

Elsewhere on this Forum, the buses section, there are posts about the ex City Transport bus which took trainees to Bournville twice a week. I travelled on the bus in 1953 which at that time was red and cream - the red being where the Corporation blue had been. There has bee a suggestion that the bus, or other buses used, were cream and GREEN (possible GPO olive).

There is at present some interest, by a local (to Birmingham) Museum about the history of this vehicle, and others, which sold to the GPO by the City transport in the early 1950's. Assuming ex-GPO Members read this thread and not the bus thread I have taken the liberty of posting here. I am pretty sure that Ernie Coggins (whom interestingly is the only name I remember from the 1953 intake of trainees, of which I was one) travelled on the bus and maybe due to his longer, than mine, service with the GPO might remember other facts.

As an aside I do recall that the GPO trainees worked upon the top floor of, what I believe was a seven storey building, which at the time was one of Birmingham's tallest buildings. The views from the windows up there was very interesting - you could see for miles.
 

lencops

gone but not forgotten
This is a rack for use on Colossus made by workers of the Enigma site for exhibition, i worked on making these when i started work age 14yrs circa 1943 at Garrison Lane, Post Office Factory, John Bingham was the rack shop Foreman. Len.
 
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lencops

gone but not forgotten
familysearch, Type in search "Garrison Lane". I posted this on the thread, Quote: We did all kinds of engineering work, press work, lathe work, milling, assembly work, the men worked on electric fittings, i was 14yrs old at the time, friends i remember Bill Lees, Ron Green, Jimmy Lewis, Des Dyer, Walter Scandrett, ? Kimberley, in 2008 we found out we were making parts for Colossus the computer which deciphered the German Enigma Code machine. Len.
 

familysearch

New Member
Does anyone know if my father Frank Cotterell worked on Colossus? I amm researching my father's working life so if anyone has any information I would be delighted to hear from them
 

lencops

gone but not forgotten
I am researching my dad's history, and I would be grateful for any information about him that anyone has. His name was Frank Cotterell and he worked as an engineer at the Post Office in Fordrough Lane from about 1930 until he died in 1962. I know he signed the official secrets act when the WW2 started. I would really like to know what sort of work he might have been doing, especailly if it had anything to do with the Colossus machine which helped to break the Enigma code. Because he died at the early age of 49, I would also very appreciate finding out anything about him as a person - what he was like to work with etc. My children and grandchildren are also very keen to know more about the grandad they never knew.
familysearch, I signed the Official Secrets Act, not that i or any of mates could tell any one Secrets because we were told the items we made were for walkie talkie radios & we kids believed what we were told, talk about naive or did not think they would lie to us, those of us who are still alive found out in 2008 we worked on parts for the Colosuss Code cracker. Len.
 
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