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.....Teashop Experimental..Department.....


(4) by David Lawrence

After a couple of years in the Drawing Office I was put in charge of a small four-man workshop at Abbey Road factory to design and manufacture new prototype equipment for the Teashops. I had to attend meetings at the Teashop Head Office at Orchard House to be given and discus the specification of what I was to make and later supervise installation of the item in a particular Teashop. I would still work from my desk at 139 Hammersmith Road, opposite Cadby Hall, but I would need to travel two or three times a week to Abbey Road and maybe once a fortnight to Orchard House, where I would work with Harry Morris in Head Office Develoment and later with Mr. E Pottinger and then Jean Metcalfe. I held this position for seven years.
Like most engineering supervisory jobs I had to master the paperwork system and not be restrained by it. For example, I had a quarterly budget for labour and material and I could not exceed these without condemnation. If I went under budget - because material costs were light that quarter - I would have my budget reduced the following quarter. I found that I needed to keep a close watch on the material cost as the end of the quarter approached. I hit on the idea (as I'm sure most engineers have) that when I was under budget, of requisitioning major pieces of plant in the last week, which would come off my budget, then return it to stores once we were in the new quarter and get credit. Of course it meant physically moving the plant and spending money to do so, but after a few times even this was dispensed with and only a paper transaction was made. I was 22 and the men I supervised were craftsmen in their 50s and 60s. They could have rung rings around me but to their credit they didn't and I was learning fast.

© David Lawrence 2002

 

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