Ransomes apprentices set for reunion

FRESH out of school and taking home a weekly wage of £16.50, working as a 16-year-old apprentice at Ransomes and Rapier was a job to be proud of.

FRESH out of school and taking home a weekly wage of £16.50, working as a 16-year-old apprentice at Ransomes and Rapier was a job to be proud of.

Now, 30 years on from their introduction to full time employment, the clutch of new recruits taken on in 1976 are coming together again.

It was in September and October '76 when the Suffolk engineering company welcomed its biggest intake of apprentices ever, with 34 new starters joining the ranks.

Having only finished school three months earlier, the lads were to spend a year in each other's company learning their discipline - either as a skilled fitter, welder, plater or machinist.

On October 21, three decades later, the intake, now aged 46 or 47, are being invited to a reunion, which will be held at the Steamboat Tavern in New Cut West.

The event is being organised by Nigel Howard, Bryan Miller, Martin Gould and Dick Smith.

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Mr Smith, of New Road Trimley St Martin, said: “We thought that 30 years on seemed like a good time to have a reunion.

“It will be an opportunity for everybody to meet up again, have a drink and find out what we've all been up to.”

Mr Smith, 46, said the first year at Ransomes and Rapier was spent in a training centre which resembled a “barn with windows”.

“We did everything there,” he said. “Then after a year of off-the-job training, we went to our respective disciplines.

“Being together like that helped to make some good friends. We had only just left school, the summer holidays had just gone and we were there together starting our first job.

“We met people who were our enemies when we played against them at sport at school and they were to become our best friends.”

While £16.50 may not seem like a lot today, Mr Smith said that sort of finance went a long way in 1976.

He said: “We all bought mopeds and motorbikes and still managed to pay our parents house keeping.

“We were able to go to the pub every night, which I can't do now, so it can't have been bad.”

To find out more about the reunion, call Mr Smith on 01394 211 214.

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