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A. E. I. Apprentice Trips

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As I've mentioned before I served an apprenticeship at Associated Electrical Industries (Metro Vickers as was).

We had a well organised Apprentice Association, the purpose of which was to further our technical education and to expedite booze-ups.

We had regular coach trips to other factories within the AEI group for tours around, and to take part in sports competitions. By careful planning we usually managed to pick places within a short distance of somewhere else of interest. The small switch-gear factory at Colne in Lancashire springs to mind and by a co-incidence was quite near to Blackpool. An hour around the factory and off we went, ta very much.

We also went to RAF Finningley one evening when we were treated to a runway-side view of 9 Vulcan bombers taking off with full re-heat on a practice nuclear alert. That trip back-fired somewhat as they wouldn't let us in the pub afterwards as our clothes were still dripping in kerosene.

Every year we went to the big Trafford Park factory where the apprentices had their own hostel and club-house with attached playing fields. After a game of football or ping-pong we were treated to a good meal in Manchester then we always went on to spend the rest of the day and most of the night in Belle Vue.

On one occasion we were returning home by coach in the early hours when the driver made an emergency halt in Stocksbridge. We piled out to find an old chap paralytic drunk in the middle of the road. When we steered him back to the pavement he staggered back into the road.

Asking the coach driver to wait we asked the drunk where he lived. He pointed vaguely up the hill and we carried him and kept asking him which way. Eventually we got tired of this carry-on and when he seemed to indicate a house with the lights still on we tried the door, found that it was open, swiftly dumped him inside and made a very quick getaway back to the coach. I have often wondered what the occupants thought when they found a blotto bloke in their kitchen.

Another Manchester trip we walked into a bar late in the night to find our coach driver knocking back pints at an alarming rate. When we remonstrated with him he told us he was starting back immediately. This was about an hour before the arranged time for departure. A large group of us raced back to the coach and stood in front of it in an attempt to delay it until the rest of the group returned.

The driver, drunk by then, started the coach and began pushing us out of the way. We all piled back on that could, but a number were left behind and had to return by the newspaper train. Over Woodhead we were in need of a "comfort break" but the driver wouldn't stop. We pointed out what was going to happen and he reluctantly pulled over. As soon as we were out he tried to pull away again so we had to pile around to the front of the coach to complete our task. What passing traffic made of a crowd of youths stood in a circle in the road urinating outwards, I dread to think.

When he pulled up at the Hillsborough Corner lights I jumped out and I understand that when the coach reached West Bar the attention of a police car was attracted and the coach was pulled up and the driver arrested.

Happy Days.


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