R&R gave best start in life

MEMORIES of Ransomes and Rapiers the Ipswich engineering company lost to the town with its closure in 1988 are still arriving from far and wide.

David Kindred

MEMORIES of Ransomes and Rapiers the Ipswich engineering company lost to the town with its closure in 1988 are still arriving from far and wide. The company has featured several times in recent Kindred Spirits.

A reader who now lives and works around the Caribbean has sent me an e-mail with his memories of the company.

Philip Rudland said: “I am at present in Guyana and have been for the past three months, I travelled recently in Barbados for three weeks.

“I am now back in Guyana for a further three months. I have been in the West Indies for the past ten years, I do contract work, mainly for the fish industry installing ammonia refrigeration plants.

“Fortunately I was an apprentice at Ransomes and Rapier from 1965, as this was probably the best engineering apprenticeship available anywhere.

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“The blisters were big and painful in the training school from using hammer, chisel and files to make a square steel block from round stock and then making the plate, nicely grooved by a shaper machine, to allow this block to fit in every direction.

“I cannot remember the instructor's name except he had an artificial leg. Mr R A Rudge was in charge of training. It must have been worthwhile as I won fitting prizes in 1965 and 67 to the value of two pound ten shillings!

“During the period in the training school you were taught other aspects of engineering, fitting, turning, plating and welding. You had to make tools that you would use in the factory, these tools I still have today along with the tool box we had to make to carry them. “While in the training school and during the rest of your apprenticeship, you had to attend the School of Engineering at Ipswich Civic College.

“When the training school days were over you were moved to other areas of the factory, my first stop was the machine shop. At times the work was monotonous as items were repetitious in quantity and continuously checked for tolerances. It first made you aware that “Time is Money” as it was all time and motion orientated.

“I moved from the machine shop to one of the fitting shops to assembling and installing concrete truck mixers on to customer chassis. I believe Jack Bullard was foreman then.

“The worst job had to be to fit the 'water bell' inside the drum as persons would remove the wedges that held the drum stationary, and you would go for a roll.

“After this fitting shop I was moved to the drawing office making detailed drawings of parts and assemblies of truck mixers, then another move to a fitting shop.

“The best job in the fitting shop was 'cab and covers' as you could make a good bonus. For the final months of my apprenticeship I worked in the final operations department and process control.

“After receiving my apprenticeship papers from Mr J H Blackman, the personnel officer, I left the company and joined the Merchant Navy as an engineer.

“Even today I still use my knowledge gained from the training school. Many machines are running around the world on parts that I have made from scratch.”

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