John Allen

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Interview Date(s): 
2 May 1991
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BEHP 0195 S John Allen synopsis


Born 1921 in a hamlet in Oxfordshire where his father was a groom to the Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire, Sir John Hanbury. He describes his early days at school, then the death of his father who was kicked in the head by a horse and died from the injuries he received. The family moved to Slough in 1934. He left school at 14 and started work in the stores of J. & M. Stones at 15 shillings per week. He then moved to a job in Slough with G.D.Peters Engineering at 13 shillings per week in  the Inspection Dept. His boss White left to go to Technicolor and suggested he should apply for a job there; he did and in 1936 got a job at 17 shillings per week in the Machine Shop as a Store keeper. He talks about the early days at Technicolor about the training by USA personnel. He tells a good story about being seen in his white coat. In 1937 he was transferred to pin-belt maintenance at nineteen shillings and sixpence a week. He gives a very good account of the pin-belt system and its maintenance.

He stayed in the Department until 1939 when the staff started to dig air raid shelters. He talks about a special party given to the machine room staff (of which he was a member) at Pinewood Studios but he cannot remember many of the details. He talks of the making of the initial dome trainer.


In 1941 he was called up into the Royal Artillery and he talks about his war time experiences in some detail. In 1946 he was demobbed and returned to Technicolor, back to pin belt maintenance at Six pounds and ten shillings (£6.50) per week. In 1955 he was made an Assistant Supervisor to help re-organise film storage. In 1960 he was transferred to the Sales Dept. in the section dealing with Shorts, Documentaries and Advertising, as Assistant Sales Manager. He says that this period was the “golden age” of documentary films and in 1980 he was made Assistant Supervisor in the Order Service Department where he remained until his retirement. He the talks about his relationship with ACTT, about Alf Cooper’s role at Technicolor. Finally, he talks about his own reactions to his various experiences.