Triumph Apprenticeship

Alan Watkins left school in Coventry at the age of fifteen. He got an interview with the production manager of the Triumph factory who was also the apprentice manager. He was then taken to the see the chief draftsman who looked at Alan’s drawings he had completed at school. In the following extract Alan describes the beginning of his apprenticeship and the pranks that were played on new starts.

length of clip: 1 min 32 secs.

Hilary: How did you feel when you got told that you’d got the apprenticeship, you know, you’d been accepted onto the…

Alan: Oh I was chuffed. Yeah, really thrilled because it wasn’t easy to get it. Erm especially to get somewhere like that, cos that’s where I wanted to work, the Triumph. I mean me dad worked there as well, but that really wasn’t the reason I went there but it was a, although it’s a manufacturing area, it, the engine was quite a precision thing, more precise work than a car engine, you know it’s more of a high performance engine and being smaller, you had a chance to go round all the different places. Erm I mean, don’t go down there, because there is that many stories about the factory, that you could write a book on that [laughs]. But I remember going into the hardening shop, which is heat treatment, and erm they opened these doors of the furnace and had big chains, I mean really big chains and I remember I went there and they, and the charge hand pulled the chain and this door opened, I mean you’re talking about six foot by three, and the heat that came out of that, you couldn’t get within ten foot you know and he said, ‘Can you get the jobs out the furnace?’ So I said, ‘Yeah, sure yeah, certainly’ and he give me a pair of tongs and they were probably about a foot long [laughs]. So you had to pay your dues every time [laughs] What’s this? You couldn’t get within about ten foot of this furnace and then of course they give you the real ones, you know [laughs].

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