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The copyright of this recording is vested in the AC Titi history project. John Allen. Laboratory technician Technicolor and also a manager. INTERVIEWER Alice Cooper with Alan Lawson recorded on the second of May nineteen ninety one side one first of all when and where were you born. I was born in a little hamlet called nether world in the county of Oxfordshire. It's in north Oxfordshire it's a hamlet of just a few houses. My father was a groom who worked for the Lord Lieutenant. Oxfordshire. Sir John Henry and he was a groom and we lived in a small cottage. But the Empress yes job and education very well. We left another word when I was two and funnily enough I can remember being in a car. It I've just got a recollection of being in a car that's all. It's a funny recollection but it's always been with me and we moved to another village in Oxfordshire called Stanton St John and my father again was a broom. Attached to the Big House Stanton House. And it was owned by Sir John Weatherby who is of the Weatherby family of the racing people in Yorkshire. He was a member of that family. He was a lieutenant colonel in the auction box light infantry in the first world war. Now I also. Just one little incident I remember about another one and I went back some years ago and I saw an old chap digging in his garden and I was talking to him and I said Do you by any chance remember Frank Allen. He said good heavens yes he said in 1914 we went off to war together and I thought that was a marvellous you know a recollection. And that's rather I thought a lot of that you know so going back to stones and John I started school there in the village school. When would that be. That would be. I was born in 1921 and we moved to Stockton John in 1923. So I would have started school at 35 was the age there. So that would be 1925. That was the ordinary little local yes little local primary school yes. There's the headmaster. There were three brothers actually the peacock family and they were all keen cricketers and cricket was the lifeblood of the village. No. No contact at all with football or any other sport. It was cricket. The old lads of the village were the umpires. They were very wise men as appeared to a child at the time. But cricket was the lifeblood of the village. You had agreed. Yes I had to adapt our sports ground. And my father was the unofficial groundsman. And I used to help him when he had to mow the outfield and I got a great knowledge of cricket pitches and their preparation and all this sort of thing. So obviously the main sport of the school was cricket and the headmaster was very proud of his cricket team used to take us to play different matches. He had one brother in Richmond who was the headmaster guy and I forget where the other brother lived but he used to arrange matches between you know their particular schools. They were all headmasters by the way which is quite remarkable. The school was as you say the ordinary village school and. Nothing spectacular really. I mean it was just an ordinary education. Eventually I sat for the examination to grammar school. But at those times there was a very very limited number of places. And although you might. Achieve the necessary academic qualifications to go into grammar school it was a matter of whether there was a place. Unofficially I believe. I reach that standard. But the place went to a girl actually. So perhaps that was there you know the order of things. Sam What school did you go to in an ordinary secondary. Yes I know. I still stayed at startups and jobs but in nineteen. Thirty in 1931 32 my father left the employment at Stanton House and went to work in Windsor in Berkshire again as a. Groom. But this time looking after a string of polo ponies for a gentleman who lived in London and so I had a change of school then and I went to the Royal Free School in Winter which was quite a good school. I one sort of thing I like to mention about my childhood is that I went to stay for holidays at that time with an aunt in London and she was always anxious for me to get out and about so she often used to give me sixpence or a shilling and a packet of sandwiches and she used to send me off to Kings Cross and amongst other places and Croydon Airport and I've always been grateful to her for that because I remember the day I went to King's Cross at precisely ten thirty AM. The Flying Scotsman left King's Cross on its way to advance and at precisely 530 I could remember the clock now as it ticked to five thirty. The Flying Scotsman drew in and stopped and I went to the engine and I must have looked quite appealing because the engine driver said Would you like to step to the front of the foot plate. I've never forgotten that. That was quite marvellous. Naturally naturally and funnily enough just going on some years if I may relation to that last year the seventh Valley Railway that she's you know is the preserve railway had a guest engine in the Flying Scotsman and that was the first time I'd seen it since those years in the thirties and it was quite an event. And of course Croydon Airport was another wonderful place to go to. I mean the planes weren't terribly modern as we know now but it was a wonderful thing for a child at that time. It gave me an insight into things which a lot of children in Iraq at that time probably didn't experience and also the trams were wonderful in London too. I used to love riding on the train. So all in all those holidays were you know very special ones indeed. I look back on them with great pleasure. Anyway I attended the Royal Free School which was quite a good school. It had a very very. Sort of partially determined headmaster. And I I think had got on quite well there. But then an event occurred in I forget the area I think was 1934 in which my father died. He was unfortunately kicked to death by a horse actually with horses all his life. And burn but they're very funny animals you know in the sense that they can be unpredictable and for some reason this one kicked out with its hind foot and it caught him in the stomach and of course he died from an internal haemorrhage. So that rather altered our lives considerably. My elder brother who was serving in the forces at that time in the oxygen box light infantry at Cowley barracks near Oxford had to come out of the army because you know in order to support the family I had an assistant older sister and also a younger brother. But you know somebody had to be the breadwinner and so that altered our lives you know quite a bit. We actually then left Windsor because my father naturally was no longer there and we moved to Slough which is a few miles away from Windsor and my brother got work locally at a firm called Hall X. And eventually my sister joined that company too so you know we were sort of able to her able to provide for us and then we bought a house in Slough and I can remember particularly that they were financed by the Leicester building Temperance Society and the deposit for the house was 25 pounds. Now that was a large sum in those days and I remember that we saved up the twenty five pounds in shillings half ground Sixpence is when the man came to collect the deposit. I remember my mother emptying the teapot of all this money you know I mean it was a terrific sum in those days. It really is incredible. My first one got 30 quid. Yes yes yes. I mean the houses I think were about four hundred and forty five fact. Yeah. So anyway I finished my education. At the Royal Free School it was just a matter of working there you know until the one left at the age of 14 which was imperative that one left at that age in order to grow up and start work and earn some money. I my first job was. At Maidenhead and it was with and Emma Stone the radio and lighting people I it was you remember they're there to change jobs. Yes. Yeah yeah yeah. I worked there for a very short time but the problem was that although the manager used to give me a lift in the mornings. It was rather late. By the time we got home. Because I mean the time the shop closed. He had sort of work to do. And so I thought well dear that you know this is not really suitable. So I applied to G.D. Peters sons in Slough who were engineers. They made all sorts of engineering equipment principally they did a lot of work for the London Underground. They made all the seats for the London Underground and also the what they called the door engines that opened the doors of the tube. So I apply there and I got a job in the. Inspection Department which was a department which inspected samples of all the work done to ensure that it was up to standard. And I started there and the man in charge of the inspection department was a man called Frank White and I worked there for some time and then he left. To go to a job as chief and chief engineer but a job. Engineer at Technicolor which was then being built. And he said to me there are jobs going there it's up to you. But I mean you know if you like to. Apply well okay you put an application so I thought about it but it was about seven miles from Slough and of course I thought well it would mean cycling backwards and forwards. You know each day in all weathers and. But anyway I applied and went for an interview. And. My wages at the first job were fifteen shillings a week. My wages GDP eaters were I had to take a drop in wages then were thirteen shillings a week. When I went for the interview at Technicolor to my great delight they offered me seventeen shillings a week which I mean was marvellous. I thought that they couldn't be anything more wonderful in the world that earning seven day journey is a week. Mother was naturally very very delighted to read. Yeah. So it was quite wonderful I mean I felt really elated and shamelessness. Yeah. Now this would be 1936. Yes. Yeah. 1936. Yeah right sorry. So. Although it meant cycling you know to work backwards and forwards I mean all that was just really nothing to worry about. I mean it was a wonderful wage and I could be able to give my mother quite a large proportion naturally at her age but I would still have a few shillings for myself so I started work in 1936 in September 1936 at Technicolor. And I started work in the machine shop as it was known then as looking after the engineering stores. And that was very very interesting because there was a chief engineer. Who came over from America magazine called Mac Ames now me to a young lad that was quite something I mean we'd seen. Americans in the films and all that sort of thing. But here was a real live American with an American car which he brought over called a Chevrolet and that was an object of much interest you know to everyone. And also it was fascinating because the Americans had different names for all engineering tools and you had to get used to them you know and he always preferred anything American if they were to spanners to be used on the job one was made in England say in Sheffield and the other had come over from states he would pick up the one that was made in the States you know he was very very patriotic it is the you know use of American equipment to say. But eventually one mastered all the different names and so forth and that it was quite interesting looking after the stores. I was in that job for it's difficult to remember precise times. But I think a year or so I was in that job and then they wanted me to become a timekeeper and look after the clock cards and work out the overtime and all the fractions of overtime because I mean then it was a much more I think complicated system of premium time as such whether it was called that or not I don't recall but I mean there were all these calculations to work out and. At that time also the company put an advertisement into the national press for people for applicants to work in Technicolor and they then received large sackful of and I was the disputed to assist Leslie Oliver at that time to open all these letters of application and sort them into all different counties. And. I remember it was in his office and it was just his desk and a chair and I had just a table and a chair and I remember I had to go and search in the plant somewhere for a tin which you could use as an ashtray. So you know there was not much equipment around at the time. Oh actually incidentally yes I would like to mention also that when I first went to Technicolor the builders John Moallem was still building the building. And I remember particularly the roof was not on over the sound theatre. Remember that particularly we used at the time the canteen which was used by the builders. It was just an old wooden hut with benches and we all sort of mucked in together with the with the builders and John Boehner. And I remember particularly one thing that they used to be on a great display for E.T. and that was what was known as cheese gaped at that time. I mean I don't know whether I don't see them but it was a shredded coconut. Yeah that's it. Yes it was a thin pastry with a cheese sort of Philly and two. But those were marvelous and I wish to try and rustle up enough money I have the pocket money to have whether they do each day but we survived and gradually you know some sort of order came to the place. Now I remember only all these letters of application and sorting them into geographical areas and I remember that people sent all sorts of things to strengthen their case artwork colouring of pictures on all sorts of things like that you know and with a letter to illustrate that they presumably had a commitment to color that that's the sort of impression that I retained. So I sort of eventually for some days opened all the letters sorted them out and then Leslie Oliver went through them and put them into various piles namely you know a certain possible probable cause and so forth. And that really was how the sort of staff applications were dealt with and I presumably their letters were sent and people came for interviews and eventually staff became you know drifting in and were taken on at first there wasn't a lot of work to do for them. No training at that stage because the Miller right and engineers were still putting in you know the various machinery. I remember one job that eventually became very prevalent or popular whichever the case may be with them. Mostly they were dressed in white overalls and one thing that was particularly interesting was that we were issued with white coats when you started Technicolor. Now the normal dress for workers in most engineering or other factories was a khaki colored coat a white coat was a symbol of authority. And I can remember standing in my white coat outside the doors of the machine shop which was near the bathrobe. And. A friend of mine was going to Hounslow or by bus the 81 bus ran from Slav to Hounslow and she saw me standing outside in this white coat. And when I saw a later she said You must have a good job of. That just because it was amazing really. But anyway all the operators then had white overalls and one of the first jobs they were given whilst the painting of the machinery and aluminium paint. And I've never seen so much aluminium paint used in all my life. Some are good painters others were terrible. But eventually you know that kept them occupied in the day. And I also remember that they had a dart board also just outside and in between painting sessions. Well I. Think what was actually a. Is that right. Yes yes yes. So that. And then of course the American advance the American personnel came over who were there to train you know the various departments and the technical staff and then they were all allocated and took over the training for all the various departments. And they were quite characters. And I remember one particular character in particular. He was a very charming man but his name was Mr. Carver dubious and now he was a very dark skinned individual with sideboard. And he always wore a raincoat belted with a high collar and to me it was typical of an America. I mean I think that the EU is amazing. You know it really was looked upon as a really typical America. But it was a very nice chap. And also there was a chemist called Bianco. And I think it was of Cuban extraction. And of course one was sort of that well how shall I put it down a little bit by this because I mean they were the Americans you know being a very very cosmopolitan race. I mean you weren't used to it in England to that extent and to a young lad at that time. I mean those names and the characters made quite an impact. I remember that particularly also I remember in the early days they drilled for water on the site. Because the quality of water was extremely necessary to the Technicolor process. And I remember again this was a type of America that one had seen on the films but here you saw in real life he was a rather sort of hard bitten looking gentleman but he the thing that I remember most he wore big leather gauntlets and he used to sort of walk around with him tucked under his arm supervising the drilling for water and that one sticks in the mind as another type of American we had previously only seen all the films but here they were in real life and in every way. Did you think you found green yet in the offing. Of course they didn't. And they found a perfectly good supply from the rectum as was water company and. They are still using it to this day I believe. So you know that but that was just the impact of that thought of the type of person you know which made quite a big impression. That they were just a force for what I was. Yes. One all also one aspect of the scene if you like was that across the road which is now of course London Airport was prime market gardening round and each year they used to hold an agricultural show. And we of course in the lunch hour used to nip over lunch half hour or rather used to nip over and have a look round the show tents and they also used to hold ploughing matches where presumably planes are now landing and taking off was the scene of a rather ideal exit scene you know of ploughing matches and show tents and all the goings on of an agricultural show. And. I remember also one particular incident they had an appeal for blood from the blood transfusion unit and we were taken I think it was the whole term for this and I can remember that to this day we gave our blood and then they took us out and we sat in a lovely orchard on chairs drinking tea and the sun was shining and it was a moment of all mixed I do it faith and I remember to this day we were told of rather gathered we sort of rather nice nurses and I remember we all sort of dedicated our blood to each of the nurses there. You know if ever they should do that they'd be sounds a bit silly at the time but it was all rather nice for them. But how little I'm sure has changed considerably. I mean got a then. There was never even in there. Yeah. Well my next job after that I was then transferred to the pin belt maintenance which was then you know being set up as the machinery. Really. Yes. Yes as the machinery and other equipment you know got underway and the plant started functioning and you know. As I as a laboratory to process felt that would be where that would be in nineteen eighty seven. Yes. Yes. Round about 1937. Yes. What did they. What did they pay you when you got transferred. Not very much in my pay. They went up if I remember I did about nineteen shillings or 1986. Yes yes. Because there was a lot of people were getting a and asked. No I remember when I got back in that time. Labourers were about ten cents an hour. And skilled workers which were tool makers and other people. What about Walton's records and how that was about the sort of general wage. Obviously I suppose they were variations but I think that was the sort of a general wage for that. Pinball maintenance consisted of the maintenance of a. Thing called a pin belt which on the transfer machines or whichever else used to call them which was the main machine for actually colouring the film. This was an endless belt which transferred the matrix which is the master film of which there are three yellow Saturn and magenta and which is laid onto the pin pinball and then the blank film is then laid on top and the pin belt is composed of pins which the perforations of the film fit over and it holds it very very precisely so that the matrix and the blank film come together precisely and is run run through the various Di times and then of course the colouring of the blank film which is sensitised film to call it takes place and it goes through the three bars and the pin out takes them through these three colour bars on each type panel would have felt they were two hundred and five feet long. Yes. What was the thickness of the metal. The metal was about I think from memory about 30000 thick if my memory serves me correct. Yes about that. And the pin about maintenance we had to maintain the balance because the bell all the pins were held in place by by soda and we had a special machine called a feedback soda machine in which the belt was passed oversold apart and it connected it collected flaps and then went over the solid apart and it formed a little what's the word not a blob of soda make run isn't it. Sorry I've run a run of salt if you like yes which round the base of the paint which held it in place but of course going through the transom machine the belt flexes as it goes particularly through the roll tank as it's called where a thing called a seating belt. Presses the matrix and the blank film together so make in effect the transfer of colour that's a mammoth piece of perforated metal that would burn and that was fossil requested burn off that was perforated ready to so I size right and then it was in now. Yes the central thing about the pin about was that when it was perforated before the insertion of the pins incidentally all the pin out to that time came from America. We weren't in a position to manufacture them. Our job at that time was purely the maintenance of them but the pitch of the metal stock had to be of course be very accurate. And we had an instrument known as the pitch gauge which measured the picture of the film and it was getting sort of close to 1939 at that time with its obvious implications. And one of the things we used to laugh about actually was drilling for the army and this pin belt gauge was about oh I'd say three or four foot long and with the gauge at one end. And it really was very very useful for doing arms drill and that we had greater clarity in the Toru in the go through all that particular rifle drills as well with this particular pitch gauge I didn't do it any harm but it was a bit of fun and we also had a girl who was about the same length limit right. And we also had one an. Old employee by spade he was old to be at that time he was one of the fallen family and he was the father of the three men there was Dicky Thorne. Moreover many firm and Curly rooms there yes. But he was his father and he in the last war had been a bugler. And one day we would kidded him for quite some time and one day he brought in his bugle and he went through all the calls you know I think fortunately no another the government was around but it was good father you know he was one of the first people to get a pension detective Technicolor Yeah that was the first person that we knew that did get a solicitor or or a magistrate or clergyman the sale was to a man when he got a eight member Benjamin from the Prudential and every now and again that the proving he still alive might override he didn't he But yes I've been told right. Yes there was a branch out there you know to a young lad if you were a little character. Yes he was a character Jimmy the pins on the pin belt were they were they as well. The metal of the pin back was banal. Yes. And the pins about the metal of the pin belt was a mixture it contained silver it was an outline kind of a a room. Yes that's right yes it contained an outline but it can take so much silver that a can a base before they went into that and we know it went up through the end. Yes. Yes that's right. A sacred place and then with a spigot if you like the shape of a perforation. Yes. Yes. And as I say the passage of the belt through the machine. Could add a certain amount of flexing. And of course it caused Soledad to break and the pins to come out and pinned out agent's job was to replace the pins. And then also to keep them obviously in the condition required you know. And also we have to thread them onto the machine of course after a certain time. So many pins came out then of course the registration of the field would be intact and they would lay things right. Right. So we had to take the belt off and then replace it with another one. And that was done by joining the new belt on a spool at one end DOJ to the old belt and then run one off. And obviously you run into the threat of the new ring came about or change I'm bet or somewhere every weekend. Yes. And then we had to splice the two ends of that out together. That must mean very fine. Oh yes. Yes. Yes. You had a little jig in which you put on the two ends of the belt and you prepared to pair two perforations each under your belt and you floated soda over those two ends and then you put them on the jig and you cut a patch to slice over them. Yes. And you then this splice was made up beforehand and consisted of it was shaped dumb and shaped with four pins each end and then you put the two ends of the belt on the pins and then turn the whole thing over and held it down on the jig and then the soldier in her hands holding on you press down the ends so that they were absolutely firmly salted. And then you turned over the belt and then you had to carefully remove all traces of soda which might have seep through the perforations onto the. To the side. Yes. Which we know which would take the Fifth though and then you have to be in the game to get the pitch right because you could make a patch or make a joint and the length of test strips that we had wouldn't fit over the pins. So if that happened you had to take it apart and redo it because one of the things that they could get a defect on the film that you actually saw on the screen you could get a defect a loss of dye in one in one form or another. Which of course would make a print leaflets that no one had to be very precise in getting the pitch off you'd made the joint getting the pitch right. So the test just fitted over nicely and sat beautifully and all was well. But if if if it wasn't done properly apart from the part from getting aeration which game you might have cut down the sides coming in from that Earth. Yes Mr. Howard. Howard Pratt wasn't right. You could on a roll of film guys through the projector every time bolt came round because it would cause you see if you can imagine we've got a tank that size map that is about that depth and full of control temperature water and the boats going through where they're over the top and bottom and the top or the bottom won't affect the top power. Is a random machine about exercise and very very heavy and it's got this man going round not my no enforcement Rumsfeld guy in there which is firm from a perforated strip of metal and we know no teeth and that pressing then and you can imagine that's the same size perforations Vern perforation when the firm is going over the pins if pressing down and that's squeezing out the world. And so the matrix of. The blanks but Len is in the maelstrom with The Matrix a suburban given amount of dollars being left in the matrix. Well anything anything other than that there which is either a gap or router or and we got transfer and that is where grab it now I mean you're right. Well that was really you know what we did in pinball late in it and now that I carried on with that job until of course 1939 came up and then obviously the war started. Now I remember that when war was declared. We they decided to have air raid shelters built in Technicolor. And so everybody was. Asked to help dig them. And so were so many from each department were asked of after of each shift to go out and take the hand in the digging. I remember it was very lovely weather as you probably recall in 1939. And so we were out in the sunshine and you know everybody helped write down from Leslie Oliver down. It all helped you know to do it to dig the shelters. They wanted to write that. I seem to recall it was all done in very good spirit. And one other thing I remember that before the war. Sort of started they had the first Technicolor party at Pinewood. Yes. Which was quite a nice occasion. I can't really remember a lot about it. I can remember a lot about Pinewood at that time. But one thing I remember which I suppose applied to being a young lad at the time the most of the chaps that went there were mostly older than me you know. And one of the things that the bar at the party I remember you paid for your drinks and that you had a rebate in the form of little tokens. And I remember that they were all extremely kind to me at that time I suppose being the youngest sort of lad there they gave me all the tokens which they had back from. As a. As a rebate. I tried on their drinks and so I really you know had a good leg and frankly didn't cost me anything. But I mean they were very nice leather chaps you know. In the particular people that went but that was him grab him grab. Yes that's right yes yes yes yes yes. They were very nice chaps and particularly I remember Bill Adams who was the supervisor on the other two. He's gone has a yes. Yes. He was particularly kind. Very helpful chap and I think he sort of started it off. I remember I give me the tokens back and others followed suit and so you know it's just one of those things that make. And it was the purpose actually of the party was. Thank you. Well I I I can't recall precisely the reason you know in in as many words can't remember but whether it was a tradition or whether I suspect one of the reasons he amended. No but I just wonder whether whether it was a tradition from Hollywood or whether it was an idea of Leslie Oliver's who I mean who had I think elf would know this better and I who had some rather what. Shall I say destruction is different ideas on how to look after people who work it. In fact I don't know man ahead of his time. Yes he was. Yes. But I rather think I mean that it may have come from him you know in that sense. I know. I can't remember a particular reason being given but anyway it was a nice party of it. And that was the as I say the first one but then of course there wasn't any more because of the war. What was your name the managing director at that time. And what was that about. Well there was no managing director as such. There were many you know there were three general managers. No. Then it was Leslie. Out out on the other boat displayed on the boat. Yes yes. There was a gentleman who lived in London. No I can't think of his name Nadia. No no. I can't think I'm. Never going to know. Where does that that takes us up to. No doubt. As I say then when we went to war was declared the machine shop then was given over to subcontract work for different factories. In other words they use the machinery to machine various parts for different factories which were around the area. And so it was really given over to war work and I was then seconded then to the machine shop again. And I remember doing a spell on the lathe work machining parts for I don't know what they were useful particularly but really the resources of the machine shop we used to subcontract work for for war work generally. I suppose in the area you get caught. Yes. Yes. Yes. One thing I remember was that the company there was I think great. Anxiety as to what would happen because I believe at the beginning of war if over all the cinemas were shut temporarily but then they were open again. And I gather that they persuaded the powers that be that really cinemas needed to be opened in order to keep up. Yeah. That's. Oh yes. Yes. All right. All right. I told him I might take some. Yes. So there was then you know process would be done but also Technicolor participated in. Will work to the extent that they developed what was called the. Dome antiaircraft trainer which was used for the Navy. And I played a small part in that inasmuch that they had to build a quarter of a sphere in which the plane the silhouette of the plane was projected. And it was built of metal strips which George Biggins who I work with on pin belt maintenance him and I constructed the metalwork and then we had to wire onto the metalwork plasterboard to give this quarter of a sphere and another employee. Before he joined Technicolor was a plasterer. And he had the job of plastering this sphere to get it a perfect quarter sphere which he did. I mean it's a marvellous job. He would set up plaster for him at a phenomenal rate and he was putting this on but the end result was a very very good and I don't know whether they used that Well I think they replaced it obviously with a more sophisticated one meant a lot of screen. Yes. But that was the first day and trainer and I remember particularly one day they had the entire staff of anti aircraft command came down in a big retinue of staff cars to to inspect this. And I remember one poor chap he had been called up and he was home on leave and he decided to use that day to come and see his mates in Technicolor. But of course he put one foot inside the gate and then he realized who was there. And I remember he was saluting all the way into the back into the lab that there were staff officers galore there red tabs and saluting and that. And I remember when they went a staff guy would draw up and the senior officer would get in and be saluted and so on and so on. You know I don't remember that the other day I'm going to stop. Yes.
John Allen side two. Yes. Well then inevitably of course as the war was then in progress. And I left technicolour in 1941 and went into the army and the Royal Artillery. When were you your age. Well that LS I can't. You would love it but I would look to you really. I can't have that. I thought about that. To try and remember the exact date. Do you. Did you ever think it before you went in the mob. I don't think so. I don't recall. No I I don't recall be a member of the ICC ACTU before I went into the army because I didn't get there too much. Thirty seven I got a job in thirty six and then I had to be paid. Yes. So I didn't start organizing too much. Thirty seven war burger and thirty nine. Yeah. I hadn't got an agreement then. No no. Because the first lab agreement was 1939 wasn't it. I I later I can't recall seeing that as early as that season. But I know I know actually the turnaround was a year in those days. Yes. Yeah. What time you left. I think I know what you're getting a week before you went in the mob. Yeah. Let's see now I'm. It's difficult to quite honestly. To be absolutely precise but the figure this is difficult. But one important renown. Well I don't think it was a lot more. Frankly I think it was something of about 23 shillings a week or thereabouts. I can't remember it being think more than that. And I know I was appalled that people were walking I when I went there and thirty seven. Yes it staggered me because I was doing very badly I paid but I'm doing okay because of the long hours. Yeah well that's good I just do. Yeah. Yeah. No no. So well we carry your switched off I think you know. Yeah. So I went into the Wall Street and I served. Do you want to know where I said. Yes. Yes. I served with the relativity. I went to a training regiment in Raleigh in Lancashire and I received my basic training there and then I was posted to a Field Regiment. It was one hundred and fifty for Field Regiment are a less your own Leicestershire you own right at that time. You mean re regiment which were a formation of the First World War were either converted into artillery or armoured and the less geometry were converted to a Field Regiment with 25 pounders. And I was posted then to. A posting in Lincolnshire. To the two hour battery of the 100 fitful field regiments and we were there a short time and then it was given notice it was going into you know going to be sent overseas and we had embarkation leave and then we moved from the chair to Greenock Porter granite from which many many thousands of troops you know sailed for overseas and we sailed in the old Belfast line steamer the SS the Casio which wasn't terribly comfortable for other ranks. The officers were doing quite well but for other ranks it was hammocks long and pretty crowded conditions they are very hot. Yes it was. Yes I remember they broadcast the message from the prime minister saying that he was sorry but do you know to the shortage of shipping and all this sort of thing. Conditions were you know to be very very cramped but I. To my great surprise I was alright as a sailor in a sense you know I wasn't seasick. I was able to attend P. Each day and naturally one acquired quite an appetite. And to the disgust of most of the other members of the mess deck which I was allocated I could sit down and eat the breakfast the food wasn't terribly good. But I was able to eat it where most of those on the first few days just couldn't look at food and you know so that was okay. And I remember particularly they served a form of porridge for breakfast and I would remember we had a Scott amongst us. Actually his name was Lavelle which to me at the time seemed a funny name for a skull. But of course they have great connections with the French as you know but. And he was the only one who refuse refuse. Yes. He was never allowed to forget it. There was all the SAT and ACT if you like the porridge whether or not it was to his liking or not but he suffered terribly from that. Anyway we had a very long journey obviously near the Cape where we stopped off at Durban and that was of course was a wonderful experience. Plenty of everything. And they made a great fuss of us. I mean there was oranges bananas pineapples I don't know how many kinds of jam I mean it was quite something and they really made a fuss of us. There's no doubt about it. There were clubs for us and I am a pal of mine in the unit. He had corresponded with a pen pal in Durban and he said we want to try and find you know this chap and corresponded with. So we got permission you know leave to leave the place where we were in camp and we walked around Durban eventually found him and of course it was a wonderful occasion. His mother very very welcome. And we sort of went to that house all the time we were there and they made us feel very welcome and even told us a lot about the area and all that sort of thing. Incidentally our encampment was on the Durban Cricket Ground. And I often look back you know when I read reports you know about the cricket in South Africa that you know we were actually encamped on the cricket there and I think our tent if I remember rightly would be at about deep square leg if I could remember the position of me. But anyway we moved on from there. We went by another boat a Polish boat called the S.S. General Pulaski which took us from Durban to court said it was quite a nice journey up the from Durban to port so we went up the Mozambique Channel very very hot. And I remember that the quartermaster of the ship wanted volunteers to help him to draw rations each day from the refrigerators in the in the boat. And I was selected as one of the representatives that was a very very good job. And after was much the envy of everybody else because he was insistent that when you went into the refrigerated space to draw the vegetables you had to have a glass of wine. And he had a barrel of Cape wine by the entrance. He said Now this is an order in order if you go into a cold area and you must be fortified by a glass of wine. Now. Obviously when they got to hear about this. Everybody would envious you know. But there it is as one says it's the luck of the draw. So there was quite a pleasant journey for that to Port Said and we disembarked at Port Said went to one of the famous transit camps of that area and as you well know the area is dirty dusty you know and not very pleasant at all. From there we were assembled as a regiment and then eventually we moved up to the western desert to positions around El Alamein. In other words we were read you know in preparation for the offensive. You know October the twenty third 1942 and I can remember one incident as we went through Cairo in convoy. We were warned not to buy anything or to have anything to do obviously with the locals because I mean they were very very fly at all sorts of things. Now. We were on the vehicles and we'll be over in convoy although you didn't sit inside your vehicle you sat on the outside of it in most cases. And one chap of course you always get one chap who knows better. Now he was sitting on the outside of this vehicle and a young Egyptian lad came up to him and said newspaper newspaper. So he said Alright I'll have a newspaper. So he gave him the necessary money for it. And as the lad took the money he wet the spectacles off this chaps nose and ran away. And of course when he got the newspaper it was about three weeks old. So it was a penalty you know for disobeying an order and it could mean that the papers were three weeks old he'd given the money away for nothing and he'd lost his spectacles which was quite serious. And I think actually it could have be an offence under military law. It was render yourself not able for combat to that lady. And also I remember another incident when we were in a camp mount at the port said sorry to think I should have said I beg your pardon. Yes. Put to effect I'm sorry not for it put to me we were in under canvas and because of the great dexterity of the locals in stealing things they loved the white heavy canvas of the tents because it made wonderful sails for their boats. Now so the Army said right. And the unit said Right we're not going to suffer the indignity of having things stolen. So they had so many guards around the area we were running into each other. But during the night they stole the officer's mess. Next morning there was a deathly silence. No no well we've heard of that. But this shows you what great people they were in half inch and think a little little. Anyway we moved up for the Western Desert and then it was a case of then we took part in the main offensive at El Alamein. We. Gave support for part of the campaign of the west desert then we were withdrawn and we had a journey all the way back to Cairo. And I remember one little incident which I suppose comes into my before in South Africa. I bought a fountain pen. I had a few shutting span. It was a lovely park I found it and I was very very proud of it. Now when we gave the order to pull out of the desert back to Cairo I'd not I thought I'd lost this pen and I was very upset. But when I got back to Cairo and we took the camouflage net off the gun there my fountain pen was caught in this camouflage net and it travelled about several hundred miles through all the desert to the right back to God. So I was just quite taught about that rocky road. Yes it was well that time could have been a fountain pen. Very precious. You. You put a great emphasis on these things which today probably sounds rather silly. But you know at that time it meant quite a lot. And then from Cairo we went into Iran as it was then or Persia as it was then. And our job was to guard the supply lines which were supplying the Russians across you know Persia. We also were in Iraq. And we also served in trying to Jordan Syria Lebanon and all those particular countries in that area. So all in all it although there was a war on it was uncomfortable one did see quite a bit of the world you know in that respect. Lebanon. I remember particularly because we then. Were earmarked to go to Italy and we did our mountain training in Lebanon which was rather wonderful. It's a lovely country and nothing grieves me more than the terrible. Things that have happened to it because it is a lovely country. There are lovely mountains and lovely fast flowing streams and the people very nice and friendly. There's orchards and it is really a beautiful country and it's so sad you know as to what's happened and our mountain training consisted of the instructor taking us to the top of the hill and saying your objective and you would just see a little building on the crest of another hill and out we had to make our way there find it and then make our way back. And while the top and Wolf you know and I prided myself I was pretty fit at that particular time. Well then we eventually reached Italy and we landed at Taranto and. We were then assembled. And I remember one incident when we landed. It was very cold in Italy at that time. And you had to go and get some blankets alone that was funny individuals you had to walk about two or three miles to this door to draw the blankets. And it's amazing how some chaps wouldn't go to the bother of walking to this store to draw the blankets. They spent a very uncomfortable night. But I remember I went there drew quite a lot of blankets and I was offered all sorts of inducements cigarettes normal dull things to part with over the border. But it struck me at the time that it's sort of peculiar facet of people you know in their attitude you know to various. Anyway we eventually were sent into the line at a place called or turn turnover on the west coast of. Italy. And we relieved a Canadian battery a Canadian regiment again they were very generous. The Canadians they obviously all were equipped and supplied much better than the British Army. They had plenty of cigarettes and plenty of booze and all this sort of thing which they shared with the studio quite happily. And then we went through Italy. And I eventually finished the war in Austria in Vienna where our unit became part of a multi police force. And you went round in jeeps and there was one British one French one American and one Russian you know and you patrolled the city and generally sort of kept an eye out for any troubles and that sort of thing. And then eventually I left the Army and I returned to technicolour in 1946 and when you come back you get the job. Yes. Yes. I came back and then went back to the pinball department. And yes he was yes he. Was there all through the war. When you get back. That's right. Yes. I kept the department going. Yeah joined the war. What kind of way did you come back. Sorry. Wait wait. This is I find this. I don't see it's important. I'm sure you know to the world in particular. You know history there your day but for the life of me I cannot think precisely of the wages. It must have been considerable. Because I can give you a guide. I was married in 1947 and. I remember discussing with who I was with my wife or girlfriend. Was that what money we had. You know when we got married on my wages I remember at the time of getting married in August ninety four of them was six pounds. Ten shillings. I remember. Got a letter you had all must have done. I've been not a boyfriend or girlfriend were coming back together and we both had yes. Yes on that I thought was quite good. You went to. Yes. I hadn't got under one banner yet. I didn't start there too much. Thirty seven. No. And the war broke out in thirty nine. Yes. A long time. Yes. Anyway. Earnings but yes expect. Second down that. Obviously you've seen. Yes know we think that we had enough you know and so we were married and then the next job I had. I was the pinball development was locate relocated at a little place called Paul which was in the village of Coimbra. The company took over Bill. He came this morning. Yeah. And they relocated the machine shop and tore down that the drawing office the pinball department that was I think the main departments located and they had a bus which used to take us back to us and forward now. One day I had a message I had to port to the mister all of his office right away. So they arranged some emergency transport to get me there and I was ushered into his office and there was Mr. Oliver. Mr. Little Johns Mr. Page. Good. A chief engineer. I think Roger Kay Hull I think was there and one or two others and I had no idea what was about. So I sat down and they asked me all sorts of questions gave me no idea what it was about. Such questions as What would you do if you had to reprimand a person could you do it. And. And how are you particularly what you do and all sorts of questions of that sort. I answered to the best of my ability. They said okay that's fine. I said thank you very much and left. And eventually I heard that I'd been selected to move to the film storage department in which they apparently were going to reorganize film storage in quite a big way. And there were two people selected. There was myself and Bill Shepard who was I believe in charge cable only. Yes that's right. Yes. I was then. Promoted to assistant supervisor and we were under a gentleman called Rennie Lindsay remember him. Yeah. And he was the and also there was another supervisor. Whose name I'm not going to remember. He was an ex army adjutant. Go ahead remember him. I'll see if I can remember in a moment. And the object was to reorganize film storage because apparently one of the things about film storage is that you had to charge a storage of all the negatives and no negatives as Alf will now. A very very valuable pieces of film because all the sweat and toil and work of all the shooting and laboratory work and everything is in resides in that one piece of data that one can get. And so they will reorganize it not because I think they've had apparently one or two instances where negatives had gone or mislaid destroyed. And it caused quite a very big problems obviously with the onus of the negative who you know naturally shout very very loud if they have valuable investment. You know it has been destroyed or damaged. So the object was to reorganize film storage and to introduce a system whereby you would have quick access to any negative or print or soundtracks. You know that was needed. And our job was to get it all on on on a proper basis which we did. And I remained in film storage. This was be about. Women. Should be subpoena. That would be about nineteen fifty five that I was them. That right. Yes. And they had great overcrowding storage problems. So they built a lot of six new huts right down at the bottom of the site in which all the negatives were housed. And we introduced a system of giving each rack a number. Sorry. An alphabetical designation and a number and that was recorded on a storage card so that you could then just look at the storage card go to the particular rack take out the can deliberate to which department that needed it. And then of course return it when it came back to the same location. And it worked very very well. It was a very good system and I enjoyed the. You know my stay there it was a very you know taught me a lot of course about the production side of the floor because before I'd been concerned mostly with the maintenance and engineering side of the plant that this you know obviously one learnt a lot about the production side and the parts and obviously you know came into contact with we were lucky in a way because ultimately ultimately a. Yes that's right. Yes. Yes that's right. Yes yes yes. Yeah. Yeah. After my sort of stay in film storage I was then a game. Funny how people must have their eye on you in a sense I suppose because I remember Mr. Oliver was came down quite a few times to film storage and he sort of asked me odd questions again and I thought well I dunno I wonder if something's up unit and eventually I learned that he wanted to transfer me to. The sales office of the short and documentary and advertising films department. There was a sales manager not equal to quarter sales manager in charge but he was sort of the supervisor in charge and the job then was to liaise with all the producers of either short films documentary films or advertising films and advised them of their particular costs that they might want to know schedules for their films delivery dates France prints and so on and so forth. And they wanted me to become assistant to him because again the office was in trouble. Mr. Oliver was getting a lot of complaints from customers about late deliveries and lack of communication or this sort of thing. And he obviously wanted to strengthen you know the sort of people on the ground. And so. After some sort of hesitation I accepted the job because I got to know the film star his job very well I knew it backwards by now you know and I'd sort of be immersed in its beginning as it were with a reorganization. And I thought well I do now I would like to carry on. But then I was persuaded that really it's all about only the gates you know two other things. So I accepted and at first it was very very difficult because I hadn't a lot of knowledge of the production side of film or the film industry outside of Technicolor. And you were dealing with producers some good and some are bad. Some shouted you others are quite nice and you know to be thrown into it rather at the deep end as it were. And you had to master all the complications of filmmaking such as negative cutting obstacles soundtracks recording and all those sort of things and naturally they don't know you're new to the job or not. You know when you talk to produce or an editor. And you have to sort of feel your way it was a bit rough at first. And I began to wonder whether I had you know done the right thing. But I think it comes doesn't it. Suddenly you feel a little more secure. I'll be in time in time now. This was 1960. Yes that's right. About 1960. And eventually I really took to the job and it was really to my mind. The Golden Age of documentary film because films had quite a lot of money. They had film offices they had directors on the board particularly of Unilever shell. I see eye to name a few who were light films and British Transport films of course most other who they realized the value of films for training and PR work and they allocated the money. And it was the golden age really of the documentary film. They sort of came to you. They wanted their films to be processed by Technicolor. I think it gave them quite a lot of prestige at that time for the film to be processed by Technicolor. And it was really a wonderful age. It I learnt quite a lot about the industry I met a lot of people. I went to various trade shows and all this sort of thing. And it was good. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it immensely and there I was there until about 1980. Really. Yes. Yes. Yes I am. It was it was it was a good time and I found it very interesting absorbing because things then changed in the industry of course. There wasn't the money then for as many documentary films you know it became a very very competitive. And of course with the ALF will know with the. Changing over in Technicolor from inefficient printing to Eastman color printing threw open the market to any lab small or large which you know could could process the the particular films. And there was a lot of reorganization in Technicolor at that time. The new department are being created and others were being done away with. And I was eventually moved to what was then a new newly created department called the order service department which dealt with the. Checking and processing of customers orders fulfilled. It was a departments set up specially previously by an American who came over to do quite a lot of reorganization and he recognized the need to have a separate department that could handle customers orders could look at them. Let them deal with any queries and then put them into the process. And I worked in that department until I retired in 1986. What was your position. I still assistant supervisor. Yes yes yes yes. And that I suppose really is why I probably have included everything. But. That sort of I suppose a rescue may look looking. Looking back. Over it yes. What what is. What is the highlight to you. At all or are they all highlights. Well I think as I say I think the highlight was the job in the assistant as the sales manager. That that to me I thought was interesting absorbing. I felt one was doing something at that time. So who was there at that time. So who manager was Ken gray gray anyway. Yes yes I got on very well with him with Ken. He had his back. Yes yes he had a bit of an abrasive also it appeared people but obviously our chemistry mix and we got on famously we I think we made a very good team he was out obviously quite a lot in this area but in some ways wouldn't be right. He was arrogant in some way yes it appeared to be but I had to have lots of arguments and discussions with people who always accused me of that but I could see it. But to me it didn't bother me and I used to hold the fort forum and deal with all the you know work in the office and I think we made a very good team and I look up on that as really a golden age now also. I mean I've not mentioned a lot about but I would like to say something about elf you know in terms because elf has done and I would like to put this on record has done sterling work a technical no doubt about it. To many many people he was the union. He was there's no doubt about it I can recall lots of branch meetings at which there was a lot of agitation and sales will know quite a few hotheads who wanted to go off at various tangents and. Wanted to call for all sorts of action which sounded good. And we know when it was sort of set in very very sort of bellicose terms but at the end of it elf usually got up to sum up the meeting. Now. Elf would put the various aspects of whatever the particular problem was he would say what would happen if you followed one course of action and he would say what would happen if you followed another course. And he would point out the benefits or the pitfalls of each course and in the end I can recall it time and time again that meeting when it voted usually followed and accepted elf advice and I know I've felt this all along and it's nice to have an opportunity to say. That elves influence was tremendous. I think he did sterling work in keeping the union on a nice sort of steady path. I think I'm proud to say elf was a radical. But I always call myself an idealist but yes I would agree with that. Oh yes yes. He knew what had to be done but I mean he always had in mind that you had a particular object you have to keep things together you know. And I remember one particular story if I may say I don't know whether elf remembers this one. You were at a meeting with Oliver and negotiated meeting and you were putting the case for various increases for various different. For different departments and all of the listen to you. And as you know he used to get up sometimes and stride around and say nonsense. Know this that and the other. Now in this particular occasion he got up and in the course of his diatribe he said look how he said. This is. Not this is no different from any other factory in the country. He said. It's just ordinary he said it's just like a booty shoe factory. An elf as quick as a flash jumped him with it. Yes Mr. Oliver but a high class musician factory. Now I would never forget that laboratory could be a fact. Precisely. That's right you can turn first to you that I think I could get no food. I remember that particularly I mean that to me sums up out I was a man who afternoon of. And also I remember also without the sterling work he did when they started the pension scheme. Now by that time. Well some representative for lapel pin but department it was a small department. But I think we had about eight people or eight or nine that you know at its peak. And I was sent into the sound theater. And we had a talk by the manager. And Oliver gave a talk. And then he brought Alfie to give a talk. And. I know Oliver Mr. Oliver paid tribute to Alf for the great work he did and persuaded because a lot of resistance to to remind me. Yeah. You know people though extra money going out you know and you were young then and as you know the old advertisement about a certain age you don't think of a pension as such. But I remember Alf doing great work in persuading the people and now I'm retired. I mean I'm an even greater debt because I mean the pension scheme. Is a very good one. Unfortunately you. No. I get to do more that I'm trying to get some kind of politics. Yes the customer went out through the same 15 20 right now as anywhere at the planning for that. Yeah. Yes I got a cup trauma. Yes but I would like to say that I mean am I. To me the union a Technicolor did sterling work improved the well-being and. Conditions and wages to a great degree. You know and I I cannot understand. I still can't understand people who say I don't want to belong to the union you know I don't know what it to me. I can never understand what. They say about them. You know some unions are. What what's the word to radical or whatever you know. But you know that thing I mean but my impressions of Technicolor you know the union were never of that nature at all. I think they approached all the problems. They understood I think Alf I'm right to say the management side as well we are the workers side and now I think there's good repair. It was my fault. Yes. You've got to make profit from me remember some of the agreements reached. I always thought were very very good in the sense that they were a good balance. And it's nice you know with Elf here to be able to put that on record again if you could start again would you want to change. Would you rather. Was there something else you would have rather read. Well been in unemployment. Yes. Yes. Well I would tell you when I left school I wanted to be an engine driver. And the the employer that my father was working for when he died had great influence with the general manager of the Great Western Railway. And he arranged for me to go for an interview. Now I went up smartly dressed and I went into a suit sumptuous office Paddington Station. I was completely overawed by it. I mean I never sees it opulent you know panelled teak and all this sort of thing and an enormous desk. I mean this must have had a lot of influence you know. I mean I was only wanted to be an engine driver but I started as a cleaner reveals major clean and I was interviewed by this gentleman and he asked me all sorts of questions and I couldn't be taken on as an engine cleaner or that time because I was not of the the requisite height or my height I got him my only paper is five foot six and three quarters and quite a bit. But apparently that was below the standard required for an agency. So I could have been perhaps an engine driver. I've an uncle is an alien driver but he is a he was a top line driver on the LNG are and his train that he drove mostly was the Scarborough flat. And there is a picture of him residing in the archives of the Oxford Mail in Oxford which I've been tempted sometimes to go down to see if I could find it of him leading out of the cab and he had just attempted to beat the record. From from. Was at Doncaster to Scarborough with Scarborough flower. But unfortunately they got held up in the flats. But that's right I suppose that I don't think I wanted to be anything else really. Come on then. Yes. I'll tell you what I thought.