# 1001

Terry Rawkins

1946 -

Terry Rawkins was Born in 1946, in St Thomas’s Hospital, London
His father George Rawkins aged 35 was a Carpenter
his Mother was Dorothy Rawkins (nee Alexander) aged 34.

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I was born in 1946, Mum and Dad lived in Guildford but Mum was under special care in St Thomas’s Hospital having lost babies before. She had to attend the London hospital frequently before my birth to have injections. She would have travelled there by train but the weekend of my birth Dad drove his Singer car, ( like this one). Dad was a carpenter working at Vickers Armstrongs (Aircraft) in Weybridge. He knew little about cars so trouble with a half shaft on the A3 on the way to the hospital was not fun.
( He would remind me of that journey each birthday).

I was born at 09:30 and could see Big Ben from the window. Dad by this time was having breakfast at his aunt’s in Battersea, so I am told.

Picture of the Hospital

My early life was normal for the time, however my bedroom had two foot high fibreboard cut outs of the Seven Dwarfs hanging from the picture rail. Which was a bit unusual. My earliest memory is of being hit on the head by a friend with a toy metal spade and an egg sized lump coming up on my head, just like my Grandad. I think I was about three. I can also remember the garden, fruit trees then the air raid shelter, a row of rabbit hutches then the large vegetable garden and chickens. In the early days this was a wild area with large trees. I can remember a bull doser pulling up some trees.

School Days

Nursery school, next to Northmead Girls school. I can remember having to sleep in the afternoon, I thought that was silly. Andy Pandy was on TV on Tuesday afternoon, the only children’s TV then. I had to get home in time for that.

Stoughton Infants, in Stoughton Road. No memory of that at all. The head was Miss Arnold

Stoughton Juniors, at the back of the Infants. Mr. Hardy was the head. I ended up House Captain or some such. I was in the second XI football team and the choir. I remember when the choir had to sing with others at Guildford Tech. It was to be on cup final day, many of the keen football types did not go to the choir thing. I thought this a bad thing as I was "Specially" Chosen, a phrase that was often said in our family. Also of note was the Christmas Play / Performance, I can’t think where the audience sat because we used all of the school hall as our stage. May be the audience were on the stage. I remember the banquet scene with a Boar’s Head and all the splendour.

Being born in September meant that I was one of the oldest in my year, it also meant that I stayed a year longer in the Juniors and for some reason was kept in the same class for two years. I think I liked school but for English which I was not good at nor the spelling fing.

At home my friends would play at my house by which I mean I only went to theirs rarely. David & Ian Penny, David Downer, are a few that come to mind. Or we would play over the common. Monday nights I would swim at the Castle street baths with Guildford Swimming Club. On the bus to Guildford walk to the baths along an alleyway by the old Playhouse cinema The alleyway was lit by gas lamps. Swim with Mr Kendal in charge and afterwards walk down High Street and have a big milk shake in Eashing Dairies milk bar. I was only entered for one competition, 100 yards freestyle in the Military pool in Aldershot. I think I came last.

Secondary School, Northmead Boys

1958 at last in the school at the bottom of our garden, a large catchment area so new faces.

Woodwork and Metalwork but no Science, not enough teachers for our birth bulge.

Mr Senior was our form teacher an old boy in the traditional way ex army ex India. Teachers were English Mr Senior and Mr Goodman, Maths Mr Templeman Craft Mr Blackman, Geography Mr Todd, History Mr Strongman, Tech Drawing Mr James, Woodwork Mr Obee and Mr Day. PE Mr Hedges, Sport, Mr Senior. I played hockey because there was no football.

The first two years were OK as far as I can remember then the Thirteen plus, a sorting out the wheat from the chaff. I can’t remember an exam just selection by classroom performance.

The new class was 3E, E for engineering that is. A small class all geared towards GCE exams. By now we had teachers for science subjects Mr Walker and, Mr. Barratt. He was called Hairy, because he had longish wire like hair. The yobs would chant,"HAIRY HAIRY" in the play ground. Funny that, just a few years before the Beatles and long hair.

In those days at that school our employment prospects were the local engineering firms Vickers, Dennis, Vokes, Drumond, RAE Farnborough or the forces, 3 GCE’s was good 5 unheard of so Uni or full time college was not the norm, that would come later with day release from work.

I enjoyed these days at school and did well in the subjects that I liked, 2nd in Science, near top in Maths but not so good in English well spelling. Dr. Rawkins dictionary was mentioned by the teacher.

Our form teacher then was Mr Strongman a great teacher, who had introduced us to his Chinese boy basher on our first day. Something we were meant to be frightened of. It perhaps shows my attitude then when I said, But Sir, we have no "Chinese boys" here.

I had private teaching in Maths and Science from one of my Dad’s colleges a Mr Evans who taught at Guildford Tech. He lived in Onslow village 3 miles or so away a hard uphill bike ride. That coaching did make a difference. I sat Maths and General Science O level at Guildford Tech and passed the Maths.

Born in September I could have left school at Christmas 1961 after my 15th birthday. It was thought better for me to leave in July 1962 thus enabling me to join a company as an apprentice. This was however a year before the course ended so I left with no exams taken.

My Dad was very supportive in my early years, he took me to see Guildford City football club play on Saturday and later to Boxing club. I did not like the boxing club it was more a gym club I liked the gym part but I never fought, too young I think.

Dad would see a thing at work and get me involved. One of his friends was in the photography club so we would go on trips with them. I remember a trip to Ilford photo factory. I took pictures with the family camera and had them exhibited at the works sports day. Before senior school so at 10 or 11 years old I was taking, developing and printing my own pictures and printing for other people. Only contact prints as I had no enlarger. The loft at home had been boarded up and I used it as my darkroom. It was a bit of a fag to get the heavy loft ladder down mix the chemicals downstairs and do the work in the loft but it was fun.

So back to school, my Dad’s influence on me was getting smaller and my linking maths and fencing at school was out of his understanding.

I had thought that I would like to be involved in the new up and coming electronics industry. I had made my first transistor radio from a kit.

Again I say that my Dad was very supportive, I think I bought the kit from an advert in the Eagle comic. Dad’s soldering iron was large, for lead work. I needed a small and more delicate version. So Dad went to see Mr. Martin along the road and came back with a lighted paraffin blow lamp with a fine soldering bit attached, not quite the thing. The next weekend he took me into work and someone showed me how to solder with my new small electric soldering iron.

I took that radio on my "First class hike" with Tim Corbin.


One of the many landmarks in my life was joining the scouts in September 1957

When young I would play in the road or over the common with friends from the road. At eleven years old we went our different ways to our new school, me to secondary modern the others to grammar school. My Mum got a neighbour, David Carpenter, a scouter to take me to scouts.

The scout hut next to the army barracks in Stoughton road was down an unmade road. An old wooden hut with, as I remember no roof that month. There were activities almost every day of the week for us scouts Monday test passing with Mr. Strudwick (that did not bode well as I had a fight with his son). Tuesday was band night and Friday troop night.

Before I could be enrolled I had to pass my tenderfoot badge. The district scout swimming gala would be soon and I could only swim there if enrolled.

Somehow it all came together and we won the trophy, with me as team captain.

And so started my journey, Scout, Patrol leader, Cub scout leader, and teacher. I have no doubt that this had a major influence in my life.

It gave me the confidence that was not there before.


Some time in 1961 I started working on the petrol pumps at the YBS garage Worplesdon Road. Mr Webb was the boss there, a kind man who I got on well with. I stayed there for over two years working early in the morning or to 23:00 at night. I served petrol, topped up oil and checked tyres, saw in the delivery tankers, cashed up at the end of shift. In fact I did most of the work there and enjoyed every moment of it.

Well almost everything. On Boxing day 1962 I awoke to a winter’s scene of snow, four inches of it and I had to open up the garage at 07:30. I was on my own and had to clear the whole forecourt before I could start. I pushed my bike in but rode it back home. That winter the snow stayed for I guess three months.

I think it was Jan or Feb 1962 when I had my aptitude test and interview at Vickers. How I came out of that with a "Turner Skilled machinist" apprenticeship I will never understand but it was one of the many turning points in my life. Should I have stuck out for the electronics or did I find my niche?

On 10 September 1962 I started at Vickers Armstrongs (Aircraft) ltd. Soon to become BAC. Dad, who by now was the foreman of the production carpenters C1, would leave the house at 07:15 pick up George ?? in the Avenue then pick up George Ide at Guildford Station. We would arrive outside the Carpenters shop at 07:45 and I would walk through the factory to the Apprentice School for 08:00. There were days when 07:15 was too early.

That year there were 200 apprentices of various grades; Craft, Technician, Student and Graduate. The scheme for the craft types like me was block release, a week at the apprentice school the next week at college.

The training was good but looking back I can see that the system was stretched, both the Apprentice school and Brooklands college really did not know how to cope with so many students. We were, of course, a cash crop the government were paying the company (Grant / Levy)

An apprenticeship at Vickers (BAC) was very good with both practical and academic training My apprenticeship did last the normal five years but I was still attending college in 1970 eight years in all. My training, the type of work and those eight years at college was so so useful to me in my later teaching career.

After two years in the training school, my targeted path was to visit each department in the factory; lathes and mills in the machine shop this I was not looking forward to. Someone in the apprentice school thought that time in a specialist department would be better for me. That is stay the remaining three years in the same department. I was to go to the Instrument workshop of the R& D department. The work there was to support the ideas of Dr Barnes Wallis, in my time this was mainly swing wing aircraft but also TSR-2 and BAC-111 exciter systems.

I remember well going to see my new boss Peter Rogers. Grenville Scott my instructor was with me. He had asked me to make the body of an air drill on one of the large lathes. About eight inches long by two inches diameter the work involved some intricate turning and boring plus I had to make an internal left hand thread !

The R & D workshop was heaven, a small wooden building in front of the old Brooklands Pavilion. Clean with lino on the floor, each man had a purpose built work bench with two cupboards and two swing out quadrants to hold fine tools.

So here I am, thinking how good I am, working on big lathes, in a workshop with small but expensive Swiss machines. Grenville tried to lift me by saying, "Terry has made a good job of the internal left hand thread". Peter rightly said an internal left hand thread is easier to make than a right hand. The next three years were great. I started a shy only speak when spoken to 18 year old and finished a much the same 21 year old but with a lot of knowledge of precision machining.

I am now thinking that some parts of that department were not so good. The whole R & D complex, our workshop, the carpenters shop, the design office, Jackson’s shed, our own wind tunnel, and experimental areas, were all secret. There was a security guard at the front desk. I had to sign for the key most mornings.

This did not encourage me to go looking and for three years I worked in that small building, T330 not going out at all.

The day would start at 08:00 the men would read the papers I would read a book until 08:30.

My first machine was a small Myford lathe. This was the established amateur hobby lathe of the day but this one had all the kit; 3 Jaw chuck, 4 Jaw chuck, Collet chuck with inch collets, and a belt driven milling attachment. The main spindle could be locked with a pin and could be indexed in 24 places .

New jobs were placed on a table with the drawing and metal. Most were from the R & D drawing office for experimental rigs or projects some were from the production departments, these jobs were either too complicated or items that could not make any bonus money.

Peter would divide the tolerance by 10, so if the drawing showed +/- 0.010" I had to make it better than 0.001"

One job required the 4 Jaw chuck but I found that one of the jaws had a split key hole on the jaws spindle. The next two may be three weeks was spent making a new one. This involved turning the blank cutting a square thread making a square drift hardening and tempering it and using it to form the square key hole. All made on the same machine to a high accuracy.

I moved to the Swiss milling machine when David left. Complex set ups and more maths, great. The most complex thing I made was a twelve start acme thread four inches in diameter. It was part of the swing wing rig

As I write this today in 2017, more than 50 years on I have to think how different it is now.

Carbide tools that you do not, can not sharpen. And maths on a calculator / computer / spreadsheet 1960’s Maths

In the training school and at college we learned how to Screw Cut on the lathe. One would check the size with an appropriate nut, which worked but was it right? In the factory they had posh thread gauges.

In the R&D workshop precision was the thing and that meant maths. To check a screw thread you put three small wires in the thread two at one side the third opposite and measured over the wires with a micrometer.

Two formulae had to be worked on one to calculate the best wire size, then I obtained 3 very small twist drills from the stores. I used the actual drill size in another formulae to calculate the desired measurement over the wires.

The only aid I had then was 4 figure log / trig tables. Square Root = Find Log using the table, divide by 2 then find the Anti log

In 1964 when I was 18, I became cub scout leader and did this in Guildford for 2 years.

Within my apprenticeship I was kept an eye on by Syd Flack a nice old boy based at the apprentice school, occasionally he would ask me to take a group of visitors around the factory which was daft really as I had never worked there, but it was a nice half day out and I saw what we were making. I guess it was Syd that put me up for the outward bound course. I wanted to do this. At the interview I was asked "what type of lad do you think would benefit from the course"? I replied "Not me, I am already a cub scout leader. BUT I STILL WANT TO GO". I was not chosen --- my big mouth!

I was also entered in the "Portal Award scheme" a trip to the Hurn factory for an interview and then to HQ in Pall Mall London I did not get that either.

We had a coach trip to Portsmouth docks workshops, the Ronson lighter factory and a flight in a Heron to Filton to see Concorde.

I did receive the "Pam Newton Award" something like the best craft apprentice of the year 1967. I was allowed to specify a prize up the the value of £25 (a weeks wages) I choose a posh record deck. That would be the first time I could play Vinyl records and I am 21 years old.


I think that my Christmas present in 1960 or so (aged 14) was a reel to reel tape recorder I never bought records, I recorded music off the radio. I would record the whole of "Pick of the Pops" and cut out the DJ chat to make a seamless set of songs. I would "borrow" big old radio sets from the jumble sale junk that we, the scouts, collected rip out the electric parts and use the speakers in the scout hut.

I was a DJ at 16

I also recorded the radio broadcasts of the 1960’s space shots from "Cape Canaveral". Alan Shepherd, John Glen etc. My mum would known what time to start the recording and would write on a blackboard in the chicken run the time of a successful "lift off". At break time in school I would read the blackboard and know the state of play.

In 1966 I met Frances who had an interest in Vinyl records and played Albums like "West Side Story" . That deck was the first component in my new Hi Fi venture. I built a heathkit stereo valve amplifier and made two BIG speaker cabinets.

All gone now I just ask my Echo Dot to play

My apprenticeship was to be 5 years but they changed the rules, "it will end on your 21st birthday". For some this was a few months short, for me 2 days!

My last week as an apprentice was spent in Keble College Oxford as a delegate at the Industrial Society conference, why, I don’t know but an experience.

In August 1967 I was about to finish my apprenticeship in the R & D workshop. I was advised to think about my future and the future of R&D, based on the age of Barnes Wallis, he was 80. The training school admin could move me whilst I was still an apprentice but it would be difficult thereafter. I had two options; the wind tunnel workshop or the up and coming Numerical Control section of the Design Office. A landmark decision!

I stayed in the wind tunnel workshops for four years during which I still pursued my day release at college,(Full Tech Cert) and started a maths degree at the OU. Wind Tunnel


To start with the craft apprentices did a week about day release, or was it two weeks at college and one at the training school I can’t remember. In any event it was an accelerated scheme we did a two year course in one year. I finished the four year craft scheme in three years and then moved to the technician course for the last year of my time. Yes eight years of college ending up with a Full Technology Certificate in Production Engineering. Over the years there were many variations of attendance.

  1. Block release - One week in college one week at work
  2. Day release - One day per week at college 9 to 5
  3. Day & evening release - One day per week at college 9 to 9
  4. Day & another evening - One day 9 to 9 then another 6 to 9
My situation changed during that time; I married Frances in 1969 and did shift work from 1970 to 71 so I was paid 20% extra for shift work (06:00 to 14:30 & 14:00 to 22:30) and for studying at an evening class. The system did not know how to adjust so I had to slip out (not clock out) and slip back in, under the eyes of the security guard.

My last day at Brooklands College was in June 1970. But what to do next?

I was only 24 and wanted more knowledge. I liked maths and it seemed the right direction somehow do more maths then more science / technology. Luckily the Open University was about to start in January 1971, could that be the solution?

I signed up for the first year of maths and had to buy a TV. Yes although I had been brought up with a TV all my life, Mum would let / make me watch the Test Card when I was very young, this on a ten inch screen with a big magnifying glass fixed to the front. We did without one from ’69 to ’70.

The OU was a very new concept, a correspondence course via the study books and TV. I went to an introduction at my local study centre, Guildford Tech. I asked a few questions where others kept quiet. At the end of the evening I was asked if I would like to go to Alexandra Palace, my big mouth.

So on the 3rd January 1971 (I think) I was on the first OU program to be broadcast. The recording took all day. The morning just getting the first few seconds of the opening sequence. I spoke a few times and asked about the impending postal strike, (no hold on to that I was told).

After lunch came the recording and I did not say a thing, others stole my bit from the morning. Anyway a fun day.

I enjoyed the course until it started to rely on subjects we had done earlier in the course, I had received good grades and thought I understood but ...

The course unit that changed me was Computing or Programming in BASIC. I do remember logging on via a teletype terminal at Guildford college using an acoustic coupler. Pick up the phone dial a number then put the handset on the acoustic coupler and wait to be connected then key in your password. ........... GLD625 - or some such.

I could not do this within the two minutes allowed. Why should anyone think that I should this was the first time I had used a keyboard !

Learning BASIC was indeed a landmark in my life, from then on I was writing code on something, and I still am.

My student days continued for a long time but only in the evening. I’m going to get the order wrong here is a list of the various classes I attended mostly at Guildford:- Fortran, QA , Electronics, Local history, Reliability engineering, In June 1971 I guess I got a bit restless I was top of my heap working a machine tool that cost £25,00, over five times what I had paid for my house. And had coped with the first half year of a maths degree.

I had been looking and had had a few job interviews, Oceanography, Data Recording and a teaching job in Guildford. All of which made me an offer but I took none. Soon after the OU computer unit was finished, June 1971, I started a new job as a calibration engineer at a small company Gervase Instruments in Cranleigh near Guildford. Small, I should say so five employees in all and three of these were directors. David Turner was the brains, Ken Gervase Williams the money. At first we made various scientific instruments and flowmeters, only flowmeters later.

The heart of the flowmeter was a stainless steel shaped cone that had the shape of a Square Root curve. Those early days were hard work. At BAC I could split a micron (0.001mm) here we had cheap and bad machines that they thought were great. The shape of the cone was calculated using a slide rule written down on paper a master cut on a lathe and copies made using a hydraulic copy attachment on the lathe.

The flowmeters were calibrated by running water through them (water supplied from a static head, big tank on top of a high tower outside) Collecting the water over a measured period of time and weighing the water. Doing this for about 20 points in the instrument’s range.

In time the slide rule was replaced by an electronic calculator. Now this is still 1970’s technology so do not think of anything clever. About the half the size of a typewriter with nixie tubes and only six functions +, -, x, ÷, %, and wow Square root.

It would take me perhaps an hour to calculate the 100 or so points of a 50 mm long cone.

The open university had given me the programming bug and here am I doing it all manually. In September 1971 or 72 not sure I enrolled on a Fortran course at Guildford tech. They had a ICL 1900 computer. There were pictures in the local paper of the 4K core memory being lifted by crane into a fourth floor window of the college.

The teaching was good the practical, slow. You wrote the code onto programming sheets and handed them in each week. These were typed onto punch cards and run on the machine during the week. The cards and results, if any, were picked up on your next visit. Of course most of the results were, Syntax error or if lucky a print out. You could punch the card yourself and put it back in the pile for a rerun. The college did not mind what the programmes did but did not think much of one called Scrap paper that just throw a new page 1000 times. Not me honest. In the end I did write a single program for work that did the calculations for a whole series of cones this had to be run at Surrey Uni they could afford the paper.

I left Gervase in 1974 and moved to MSDS Marconi Space & Defence Systems, as a Reliability engineer. A technical clark / technical author. Frances had left me in ’73, Gervase was getting me down as I did a lot of work and they wanted more from me. I needed a change of pace , a rest. Also at this time I joined the local Am Dram group, The Herald Players in Guildford. I helped refit the old TA Garage into a new theatre. Burning the candle at both ends I would sleep soundly in my lunch break.

The work at MSDS involved writing purchase specifications for items that we would buy, a bit of a none job but I did learn a bit about electronics. It was during this time that I met Maureen. The Stoughton Cubs would swim at the Guildford High School, Maureen helped the Cubs. She came to a number of the plays at the new theatre.

Before I left MSDS I wrote a scheme for controlling the progress of the purchase specifications. Although I never saw it through it would have been interesting as they used a, Glass computer, that is one with a screen not the punch cards that I was used to.

In September 1976 I had the holiday of a lifetime, four weeks in the USA with my parents.

In 1976 I went back to Gervase for just one year. I had applied for a teaching job and was turned down because I was in electronics ! Daft.


At Gervase I had seen an early HP handheld electronic calculator very expensive and "Reverse Polish" at MSDS calculators were getting cleverer and programmable. Gervase Instruments, purchased a HP10 a desktop calculator that was programmable it stored the programmes on long magnetic cards. It cost £4,000 which included a non standard unit for Maths. Programmed in RPN it was fun. I wrote programmes for Cone calculation, and flowmeter calibration best fit lines on the HP10. I had become a computer programmer !

I had made from a kit my first programmable calculator the Sinclair Cambridge programmable good fun but no better than four figure trig tables and it could not save a programme.

I started teaching at Abingdon college in October 1977 and got cold turkey for computing straight away. All they had was a PDP 11 which nobody knew much about. So I purchased a Texas programmable calculator just to keep my eye in.

During 1978 Maureen and I lived in a rented house in Grove. We sold the Farncombe house and moved to Bailie close in Abingdon in September 1978. Maureen and I Married in 1979

In the big shops like W H Smiths you could buy magazines like "Practical Computing". I remember placing a regular order for this in our local paper shop. This was seen as very unusual. I needed money so I sold all my old Eagle Comics which paid for about half of the cost of my first real computer. A Tandy TRS-80 this plus the cassette unit cost about £600 I think. I upgraded the 4K memory to 16K a bit later. I advertised my skills as a teacher of Basic Programming in the local paper shop and got a few students.

In August 1979 our Daughter Rebecca was born and in September I started my Teacher training at Oxford Poly.

The poly had a small room with a Commodore PET computer. You took a cassette in did your programming saved it and went home. Perhaps I could use this to write a project but what about?

My teaching at Abingdon College had started as a craft teacher teaching basic metalwork to unemployed teenagers. A year later I was teaching both practical and theoretical lessons this time to British Leyland apprentices.

I had a look in the library and found that a simple NC language had been made by IBM and was called Romance. Could I write a simulation on the PET that will mimic a drilling machine?

So started my twelve year career in learning and computer programming the new phenomena that changed the world of machine tools CNC.

About this time the head of engineering at Abingdon purchased an Alilam CNC refit for one of the mills. The machine sat all alone in the workshop and nobody was interested in it. Nothing was said by the management either. Were they waiting for someone to move first.

When I look back it takes a certain someone to cope with CNC. The oh so clever software engineers as we have to call them today are scared solid. They rely on error messages to hold their hand, that is the worst that can happen. With CNC you can get hurt or break things. So you have to know what you are doing.

Anyway to continue. Yes it was me who grasped the nettle and learned how this thing worked. Then I phoned City & Guilds to find out if there were any courses that we could teach. Their answer was "Yes if you write one". So I became a City & Guilds syllabus writer, question setter and examiner. We purchased four DAI computers. The BBC micro was not out then and the DAI had good graphics for its day. Millsim my CNC milling simulator was born. The following academic year 1981/2 I taught only CNC. Nine classes each week. Mondays class had a raw deal, by Friday I was flying!

I had become the Class tutor for all of the British Leyland craft classes, with over 100 students. I noticed that when I looked at their exam results they did badly on the Multi choice papers. I had learned about question analysis and thought I should establish a Question bank. I used my TRS-80 to mark and analyse the end of term tests that year. Hard work but it worked well.

Itchy feet again, Abingdon was too small for any promotion so off to Bracknell

In the deep end again. No machines no computers an empty classroom and no CNC on my timetable. A lot of scope to carve out my niche. The first machine to arrive was a very crude Denford mill with a very odd language.

I noticed that the head here had done the same thing as Abingdon. Purchased PET computers and dropped then here and there but nobody was using them. In the end the PETs all somehow found their way to me. Eventually we had a room with five (I think) PETs linked together and sharing a twin disc drive running my new PET based Millsim and Pathtrace linking to a large mill. Also there was four or five toy CNC Lathes plus a good sized lathe with Anilam controls.

My YouTube Video showing Milling, Pathtrace and PETs.

To set the scene a little, early 1980’s no IBM PC’s yet. Student handout were made using the Banda method that smelt of meths. I did not know how to do this nor want to know. I purchased a copy of Superscript, a Professional word processor for the PET. And was severely criticised by the secretarial department. "Why do engineers need word processors?" Oh then I was told off for using the photocopier too much. I had used a photocopier at Gervase in ’75 used one to make my question papers from my question bank of cards at Abingdon but this was too modern for Bracknell.

I also purchased Visicalc for the system but although I could see the power I could not think of an engineering use, that would come much later.

The college also had a room of about ten "Research Machines" linked to a central 20 meg hard disc, wow 20 meg. It had a CAD system on it which was a real dog to use. I was asked to teach CAD on this to Racal graduate students neither they nor I enjoyed this but it did show me the scope of a CAD system. I think it was at the 1984 machine tool exhibition that we saw OliCAD an Olivetti CAD system on an Olivetti M24 PC clone. I think that my section was the first in the college to have a IBM PC clone. One of the oh so clever software guys used it to format a floppy disc and typed FORMAT instead of FORMAT A: thereby formatting the hard drive, an early MS DOS problem. He did have the decency to tell me.

Itchy feet again I was working all hours writing new courses learning new things running hard just to keep up, the Head of Department was not talking to me. I saw new posts advertised in Basingstoke, Hastings, Isle of Wight, Merthyr Tydfil, Swindon, Watford and Worthing and went to interviews for most of them. But to no avail.

In the end Bracknell made me up to a Senior Lecturer. I was one of many at that grade such was the status of the College. A computer committee was set up but I was not invited because I knew nothing about computers. Then I had to get the head out of a spot and I did know about computers. He had booked a space at a computer exhibition in Reading. He thought he was an attendee but he was in fact now an exhibitor. Please would you take Millsim and show it off at the exhibition. They were strange times.

Then came AutoCAD 2.5. CNC was on the wane and we too stretched out with me out front and nobody backing me up but for my 60 year old technician John. Ron and Peter tried but in the end Ron killed it.

The AutoCAD course just took off. We started in the 6th floor sharing new IBM AT computers with the software crowd. Just impossible, it could take twenty minutes to get started. The software kids had mixed the keys tops up or changed the config.sys file etc.

The following year we moved to a room behind the stores in the workshop block. Probably four evening classes in the week Peter O and me. This was for mainly sub contracting draughtsmen who could see the writing on the wall. Pencil drawing was out CAD was in and the company they were working in would only train the company men,

In 1992 we had the "CAD for Women Returners" dropped on us. I did not ask for it and would never have thought of it myself but it was a great two years of work with lovely people. I purchased a copy of WordPerfect for this course. We were still MS DOS based no windows for CAD.

Then it went mad on top of all the City & Guilds evening class work we had two full time day classes for unemployed. We had two rooms which ran almost without a break nine in the morning to nine thirty at night. The only break was from five to seven, yes the lunch hour was worked.

I think it was 1997 that I wrote a proposal for a Full time CAD / IT course for school leavers this worked well much to the surprise of the management. This course is still running as I write this in 2017

My Homes

  1. 46 to 69 -- 70 Waltham Avenue, Guildford, Surrey GU2 9QE
  2. 69 to 78 -- 16 Wood Road, Godalming, Surrey GU7 3NN
  3. 78 to 82 -- 16 Bailie Close, Abingdon, Oxfordshire OX14 5RF
  4. 82 to 04 -- 66 Gainsborough, Bracknell RG12 7WL
  5. 92 to 03 -- Maddocks Court, Waverley Wharf, Bridgwater TA6 3TX
  6. 04 to Present day -- Isle of Wight


You always think about retiring don’t you. The college was going to go independent of the state and those over 55 were made redundant. Let me put that another way, those who were over 55 AND asked about early retirement were made redundant. I was not that age yet but did look at it without saying anything. A few years latter Alan, my new boss, asked me when I would retire. I would not answer him.

Now let’s think about it then, if we sell the Bridgwater flat and hopefully made a bit of money, enough to pay off the mortgage. College is still full on and I get very tired. Mum and Dad are in their 90’s may be some money there.

The management at college were getting very nervous, perhaps an inspection was due. During one, All staff, meeting were we were having the normal pep talk. Just out of the blue and in that meeting I thought enough is enough I will retire at the end of the academic year.

Friday 14 February 2003 was a day to remember I handed in my notice and surprised everyone. Different people said different things; but you love your work, how will you cope you only know about computers, all so wrong. I will love retirement.

In September 2003 I retired from the college I was 57, and in April 2004 we moved to the Isle of wight, easily the best thing I have done.

That time after Valentine’s day was very hectic, we sold the flat and moved the furniture into Dad’s garage, had a holiday on the Island in September and another in February during which we made an offer for Oakhurst.

Oh the joy of house purchase, having made the offer and about to walk out the estate agent said, Oh did we tell you of the subsidence? This was all sorted in due course.

The house had been left vacant for perhaps nine months and needed a lot of work. Oakhurst is a good house to work on as it has two of everything
to see more and my slideshow, click kitchen ..........

Over the next three years we worked on every room Maureen did some painting I did the heavy jobs; new plumbing in the Annexe, removed the bath in the house and fitted a new shower etc.

And then the garden, oh the garden !
The annexe had broken its back due to the hot summers before and the nearby oak tree drinking too much. To fix this the owners had the oak tree removed and all the other trees in a small copse at the edge of the property. The estate agent sent us pictures which was nearly the end of the deal as Maureen really liked the idea of trees and Red Squirrels.

Fixing the garden involved grubbing out all the old elm tree roots and removing an old spoil heap within which I found over 100 house bricks.

Grandson Joel once remarked that, All Grandad does is move soil from one place to other, which was true.

Life was good on the Island, very good. We joined the local holiday camp as leisure members and used the swimming pool there, also archery etc. Maureen found a new joy in pottery and I helped with the local scout group.

Then in January 2012 Maureen felt a lump in her breast which was operated on very quickly. You can see more about her ordeal on her page.

Maureen died 25 December 2014

I had to carry on without her it will not be easy.

I cried when I left the house each day and for perhaps three months I just got on with the job of doing the legal paperwork.

This will not do, I had to do something, so I took a bus ride to Newport then to Ryde and on the hovercraft to Southsea, stayed there for two nights and toured the historical dockyard in Portsmouth. I made mistakes, got on the wrong bus twice, but I enjoyed the trip.

And so my life has gone on, now 71 years old and still going strong can’t be bad.

I have many interests that keep me active:- my garden still needs my attention not that I do the basic things, I pay someone to do that. This year I did a major tree clearing exercise. My work with the RNIB, I have been doing that for the past two years and covered over 2,000 miles just on the Island. The work involves seeing people in their homes and helping them with their computers. The local scouts, I now help with the Beavers every Tuesday evening. Travelling, sometimes an effort but it’s nice to look back on. The 2017 trip to London was well worth the effort.

Related pages

Here are a few other pages that you may find interesting :- Memories ......

This page was updated on 1 December 2018
by Terry Rawkins.