My Time at Autowrappers in 1962
by Les Davison
Posted 13-07-18
I left school at Christmas 1961 and went for an interview at Auto Wrappers just after Christmas, ( there was only 2 days holiday for Christmas at that time, Christmas Day and Boxing Day) I was interviewed by the personnel manager Miss Margaret Burton, and had to take a written test which was made up of about 20 mathematical questions, mostly algebra and trigonometry style questions. I passed this with flying colours and was immediately asked if I could start next week on the Monday, which was the 1st of January 1962, which I did. I started my Apprenticeship in the Drawing Office for a couple of months, printing the drawings, which I took over from Stephen Pope, who then moved into the factory, to start his engineering training. When I moved into the Factory I worked with George Wigget for a little while and later I shared a bench with Dick Gash, our foreman was Bert Goodings. Next to our bench was Frank Oakley and " Fred" Horne, (It was ages before I knew your real name Roderic). Opposite me and Dick in the "R " Section , building the feeders for the Roll Wrappers was Bob Bull, Paul Jarvis and Jack Hudson.
Update 10-2-19
Hi, Les. again, here,s a little story some of you lovers of fine cigars may like, (or not ).-
When I was about half way through my apprenticeship, while we were still down Edward Street,about a year or so before we moved , we got an order from a French firm to build a machine to wrap cigars. Basically it was just load the machine up with flat boxes and cigars and the machine would form the boxes, close the bottom then push 5 cigars into the box and seal the top. 
I was helping two other fitters with the build of this machine. When we had finished building it , and it was time for trials, the French firm sent two big tea chest size boxes full of cigars to test it with. During testing quite a few cigars got broken, while adjustments were being made, (and a few got burnt up on the line). Finally when testing was finished and the machine was running at full speed with no problems, we thought, big share out time now.
Unfortunately this was not to be. Customs and Excise knew we had the cigars, and no duty had been paid on them, so in their infinite wisdom, decided they all had to be burnt up in one go, rather than one at a time.
I was given the job of collecting them all up, most of them loose, but a lot still in the boxes from the trials , tipping them into cardboard boxes , and putting them into a wheel barrow and wheeling them out into the yard where there was an incinerator, an old oil drum with holes in the side, which was used to burn rubbish.
I then had to tip them all into the incinerator while the Customs man stood there watching, with his clipboard and papers in his hand, You could tell by looking at him he was not the sort of bloke you could do a deal with, like you take a few handfuls and I,ll take a few for the men on the line. When they were all burnt up, without saying much he just signed a bit of paper on his clipboard to say they were all destroyed, and I had to sign it to confirm he had been there ,and then he gave me a copy for the firms records and then just walked off up the road to a little van he had parked up there and drove off.
Les Davison