Since 1932 I had been boarded out but when I reached the age of 14 in 1938 I left school and was sent to
W.B.T.S. Goldings for work training.
I had chosen engineering so, after a period as a 'spare boy', I was duly admitted to the engineers' workshop
under Mr 'Polly' White and Mr 'Johnny' Walker.
As a spare boy I became a telephone exchange operator, being responsible for in and out calls through a
small exchange of about a dozen channels, including interdepartmental calls. My other duties included
taking and fetching post to Waterford Post Office .supervised by Mr Maslin - and carrying packets of cigs,
for the boys; albeit against the rules! During this period the war had started and part of my time in
engineering was spent with Mr Walker installing lights in the newly dug shelters and in undertaking a
weekly check of fire bells in the main building.
A day at Goldings began with a bulgle call - Reveille - by some poor unfortunate who had to find his 'lip'
at a very early hour. Then it was rise and shine and a wash in the shower house,
(looked on by Mr " Tutee" Jones) at rows of metal wash basins, fed by bare pipes and taps.
Breakfast was at long tables seating about a dozen boys each side and although the menu escapes me I do
remember thick slices of bread and marg, washed down with mugs of. tea, fed from gallon jugs placed at
intervals along the table. Extra slices of bread were dished oat by (I think) Mr Whit bread : he would hold
a large sliced loaf against his white overall with one hand and as boys called for more, he would send a
Slice skimming like a frisbee, even to the furthest table in the canteen, with great accuracy, Then it was
outside on parade by "Houses" of which there were six: "Somerset", "Cairns", "Mt Stephen", "Kinnaird",
"McCall" and "Buxton" . I was in "Kinnaird" and my number was 197. After inspection by the
Governor, Mr McDonald, we were dismissed to the workshops, The first task on arriving at the workshop,
was the starting of the large "Blacksfcone" oil engine, with a flywheel of about 7 feet diameter, which
drove a generator and batteries supplying power to the establishment. Sometimes -a new boy would be
told to stand behind the engine and one of us would give the engine an extra pump of oil; this would make
the engine backfire and frighten the life out of the unsuspecting victim - dangerous really, considering the
size of the .. flywheel and drive belt to the generator. The day was then spent manipulating metal, milling,
turning, sawing and shaping. As to the other trade , I have no knowledge of their practices.
Leisure time at Goldings was spent mostly in the recreation hut -table tennis, etc. - which included a tuck
shop, band room and prefects' snooker room.
Saturday afternoon meant a visit to Hertford to visit the cinema BUT be late back arid you would be
scrubbing the gym floor the following week, under the watchful eye of Mr 'Wally' Patch, the gym instructor.
We all had to attend the gym during the week for press ups, pull ups and wall bar exercises. Some boys
made it to the gymnast team and, with the band, would put. on displays at other "Dickies" establishments.
On Sundays the band would lead us on church parade and whenever I hear a Souza March today, it always
reminds me of those parades and of the concerts and rehearsals they would perform under the trees at the
bottom of the parade ground. I did start to learn the trombone with the band and although I didn't carry
on with that instrument, I subsequently became a semi-pro musician playing the drums in various jazz
groups, which still gives me pleasure today.
Names of many of the boys escape me but I do remember somebody called Vann, and Skelton and a Peter
Block who were in our dormitory. Alf Philips was a good friend; he came from Stroud in Gloucester and
we went to Goldings together. I wonder where he is now.
The dormitories had a night watchman" to look over us and clock in at various times. In the blue night
lights he always reminded me of Bela Lugosi in his black attire and soft shoes, padding silently around.
After lights out many of us were still listening to the BBC on our crystal sets, mostly home built with a
copper wire round the dormitory floor, connected to a radiator for an earth lead and the aerial lead
connected to our own bedsprings!
I don't have any bad memories of Goldings. All the people, in charge, although strict, were tolerant and
friendly. But misbehaviour was punished and I remember receiving 'six of the best' for smoking.
There is probably a great deal I have forgotten but others will, no doubt, fill in the gaps.
I left Goldings with Alf Philips to start work in New Cross, London, at " Stones Engineers" and was later
reinstated with my mother sometime during 1941.

P M.

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