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Chris Crew

“Muddling Through!”

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I have always had an interest in making and fixing things from a very early age but never had the resources or family support to do much more than making up kits and building a model railway layout as a youngster. I gained a craft apprenticeship with BREL at the Doncaster works although sadly failed to complete the training but it did give me a good grounding in turning and fitting. Afterwards I found employment in the manufacturing side of the telecommunications industry with GEC Coventry, gained some minimal qualifications at night school and was selected by the company for further training in a then fast changing technological environment. Following this I spent the majority of my working life as an installation and commissioning engineer in telephone exchanges in this country and on export contracts.

In the meantime, having bought our first house, I began acquiring some workshop equipment and started a 5" gauge locomotive. Not realising how much tooling this would require I had, out of necessity, to start making some of it myself and found that I enjoyed making the tools and attachments, with limited time at home, more than I did building the loco which was abandoned and subsequently sold. Having moved to a bigger a property and working night-shifts at a time when British industry was collapsing, and the schools curriculum changing, allowed me to visit many works auctions and assemble an enviable collection of machine tools for what amounted to 'peanuts'  because nobody much wanted it at the time.

My employer morphed into Marconi over the years which finally went bust in 2005 in the face of Chinese competition but I managed to secure a role in the small service company they formed from the ashes to support the legacy British products. This company was shedding labour throughout the time I was with it and I finally took a voluntary redundancy at the age of 59. Within a few weeks I had been invited back to work on an agency basis and decided to work through to the state retirement age to increase my pension. Finally, I have all the time in the world to spend in the workshop, wife and grand kids permitting, and have been catching up on a few unfinished symphonies that have been lying around for years. I am a great admirer of the late Jack Radford and have made many of his designs which have pushed my amateur skills and workshop equipment to the limit on occasion.

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Last online: 24/10/2021 02:20:36

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