The leaving . . . .

sea

Over the sea

We put the house with a Real Estate agent this time and on the 20th March 1980 we sold it again, but this time to another family.

The problem was that they would not sign the contract until they had sold their house – which was understandable when mortgage rates were at 15%.

We had six months left before we had to be in Australia, the pressure was mounting. 

Time passed quickly and the second buyer backed out. We had plenty of interested people, but no firm offers because of the interest rate.

Finally, a couple who were moving from London signed on the 22nd July 1980 to buy the house.
The husband was moving from London at his company’s expense, so he was in a better position than all of the others.

In early August I booked our flights to Australia – our flight was Manchester/ London/ Bahrain/Singapore/ Sydney/ Melbourne. 

Tatten Arms

12th August 1980, we attended our farewell ‘do’ at the Tatton Arms, and my friends at work presented us with some fine presents including a ship in a bottle and a cut-glass decanter. 

goodbye

After the night in the pub I was unemployed.

The following week we did the rounds on Merseyside of saying goodbye to our friends and relatives, which include my Mother and Maureen’s Mum & Dad. An emotional time for all.

The legal side of the sale of our house was dragging on and on, and in the end, I had to leave power of attorney with our solicitor because I could not change the flight details, or allow a delay because we had to be in Australia by the 20th September 1980.

British_Airways_Boeing_747-200_Silagi-1

As it happened, we arrived safely on the 4th September and our visa was validated so we were now permanent residents of Australia, but with limited cash because the legal process had still to take its course. We took a few days to get over the trip and to settle the children.

Now I had to find a job.

By the 17 September I had been offered three jobs – so much for being unemployable.
Prior to flying out I had contacted the BOAC (now British Airways) cargo rep in Melbourne, and he was kind enough to check a few things for me, which helped me to gain interviews & a job offer from TAA (Trans-Australian Airlines) and Ansett Airlines, both in their cargo departments. 
I also spoke to the Manager of a company called Skypak International who were looking for an Operations Manager. 
I was invited for an interview at 88 Miller St. in West Melbourne, at 1145 am, a strange time I thought for an interview.
I duly arrived at the appointed time and the Manager and Administration Manager were waiting and asked if I had eaten lunch.

I said no, and they said come on then we will chat over lunch.

Lunch was a short drive from the office which was in a restaurant that was part of an old Australian pub.

The food was particularly good, as were the drinks.  . . . . .

It turned out that the manager was an ex Royal New Zealand navy officer, who on leaving the navy moved into car rental management and then to Skypak. The administration manager had been a bank manager for many years before running a newsagent and then becoming the Skypak’s administration manager for Victoria. 

The one thing that they had in common was a desire to expand the company, but they were unsure of the international process. They asked questions and I gave my answers, but I could tell that they were unsure of my answers because of their limited airline and transport background.

The lunch was great and when I arrived home Maureen asked how things had gone, and I said I was not at all that sure, but I did enjoy the interview, it was the best I’d ever had . . . fortunately I was not driving a car but had used the train. 

The next morning, which was a Thursday, I received a phone call from Skypak to offer me the job as their Operations Manager for Victoria, I accepted, because it sounded a lot more interesting than the other two jobs that I had been offered, and the salary was a lot better than my salary in the UK.

The land of opportunity had proved itself to me.

I asked when I should start, being a Thursday I expected them to say the following Monday, but they asked me to start the following day (Friday). I was very pleased to accept. 

To get to the office I went by train and then tram and arrived at 9.00 am to be shown into a small office where I met a supervisor reading a newspaper, and Helen, a Tongan lady, who was the office secretary.

The family and I felt at home very quickly, and soon became Australian.

BOAC to British Airways

boacBOAC 

I joined BOAC in 1969 and in 1971 an Act of Parliament merged BOAC with BEA to take affect from 31 March 1974, which would create British Airways.

The UK had joined the Common Market, as it was called then, in January 1973, so the merger of the two government-controlled airlines made sense.

BOAC was a small cargo unit at Manchester Airport so it was obvious that the dominant partner would be BEA, who were focused on Europe, as against the global focus of BOAC.

The writing was on the wall for the BOAC staff, so I started to look at my future and perhaps changing jobs, but my skills were limited, except in transport.

So, I decided to go back to school, or to be exact a college that was connected to Manchester University, to study transport. I did this while working shift work at BOAC.

During my time studying I considered going back to sea on short trips to perhaps the Mediterranean ports. The wine trade from Spain and Portugal looked interesting, but this would still require me to be away from my wife for several weeks, which was not an attractive idea.

One weekend I saw an advert for a deck officer to work on the supply boast to the oil rigs in the North Sea.

I had seen pictures of the oil and gas rigs and thought, not a problem, so I applied and was invited for an interview in Great Yarmouth, which is in Norfolk, UK.
To get to Great Yarmouth from where I lived near Manchester Airport would require a six-hour drive, which I did with great anticipation.

On arrival in Great Yarmouth, I met the manager (owner?) of the supply vessels that serviced the gas and oil rigs off Great Yarmouth. All went well and I was offered the job of 2nd Mate on one of the supply vessels. I was over the moon with happiness.

The Manager explained the details of the job and offered suggestions of whether to move to Great Yarmouth or remain in Manchester and commute when require.
Each ‘shift’ was about a week on and a week off, so I had the choice of commuting.
The phone rang, and the manager answered it and asked me to sit in the waiting room while he took the call.
When I had arrived, I did not spend any time in the waiting room but was shown straight in to the manager’s office.

I sat in the waiting room and looked at the framed photographs around the walls.

Note the flat deck at the stern. This picture is from the internet

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I then began to study the other photographs around the wall.

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This was not what I had in mind when I thought of going back to sea . . . 

water-on-deck

The money was good, but was it that good???

N sea

Would my stomach accept the violent movement??

The above pictures are from the internet to illustrate what I was looking at while the manager was on the phone.
Eventually he came out of his office and saw me looking at the pictures, ‘What do you think?’ he asked.
I assumed he was asking about the quality of the photographs, but I deliberately ‘misunderstood ‘, and said ‘Thank you, but I don’t want the job.’

He thanked me and commented that I was not unusual once people had seen the photographs, at least he was honest with the lifestyle that he offered. 

I drove six hours back home and collapsed into bed. It had been an awfully long day & I would go back to college to study transport.

I was still restless and felt that I wanted a change before the amalgamation took place. There were jobs going in the Middle East working for Gulf Air, which my direct manager applied for and gained the position of cargo manager Bahrain.

Gulf-Air-Logo

I did see an advert for a cargo manager Saudi Arabian Airlines based in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia.
Maureen thought I was tailor made for the job. The money was particularly good, and we would have a house in a compound.
I explained that Riyadh was not the place to be for foreign women, and that she would not be able to drive or go shopping without me . . . . plus, the weather in July and August was not for the faint hearted, we lost interest in Saudi Arabian Airlines.
At that time BOAC had engineering staff based in Riyadh, and they refused to fly home with Saudi Arabian Airlines because they were DRY!  and they still are as far as I know.

SAU

A Saudi B707 plane at Heathrow.

A few weeks later one of my BOAC friends left to work in Dubai, I was not the only one who was unsettled. It would be over forty years later before I met this friend again in Dubai – by this time he considered Dubai to be his home, and he had his own company. Maureen & I had arrived in Dubai off a cruise ship. 

In 1974 our first child was born, so I had to pull my head in and concentrate on cash flow.
We lived 32 km (20 miles) south of the airport and the trip to work was through the countryside which was mainly a pleasant drive. I did not have a company car so transport was at my own expense.CCI23122018_0002

In the winter getting to work could be a problem – Maureen outside our house wondering if we can get the car to start, or even if we should bother because more than likely the roads would be impassable. 

The town in which we lived was Congleton and was over 700 years old. It was a quiet country town of about 11,000 people.

Congleton The Motto is ‘Sit Tibi Sancta Cohors Comitum’ – To Thee be the band of comrades dedicated.
The town also had the nick name of ‘Bear town’ hence the bear at the top of the town crest, which is from an incident in Elizabethan times when bear baiting was popular (today we leave the baiting to the media).
It is said that the town bear died before an annual holiday period so the people decided to use the money that they had saved to buy a Bible, to buy a bear instead, so as not to spoil the holiday period.
Later a rhyme became popular, which can still be heard, even when we lived in the town – ‘Congelton rare, Congleton rare, sold the Bible to buy a bear.’

We loved the house and the views across the valley with the River Dane flowing through the farmland. (left picture)

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As we stepped out of the front door and looked to our right there was more countryside. (right picture).

By now I’d passed my exams and became a Graduate of the Institute of Transport – in other words a right ‘GIT’. 

Our mortgage at the time was £5000 or £71,000 (approx. today), and income was £30 / week or £422 / week today, and the mortgage rate was 8.9%.

In 1976 our second child arrived, and things were getting tight, mortgage rate had jumped to over 9%, and would soon reach 11.2%

In 1970 petrol was 33 p a gallon (£4.65 today), in 1975 it was £0.55 (£7.75 a gallon today), I needed more overtime or find a way of earning extra cash.

I worked a five-shift pattern –

Day shift 9am – 5pm / early shift 7 am – 3 pm/ late shift 2 pm-10 pm/ evening shift 6pm – 2 am the following day, and night shift 11pm to 7 am, we were never more than two days on the same shift, so I had daylight time to consider how to add to my income. 

The people that I worked with were mostly males, but there were a few females, so I started buying eggs from local farms and selling them to the staff on the airport. Later I branched out by selling potatoes from other farms.
I could see a demand because buying from me saved my work colleagues shopping time when off duty.
Fortunately I had what the English call an ‘estate’ car, which the US and Australians call a ‘station’ wagon so I could carry quite a lot of goods if I dropped down the back seats. 

datsun

                            The above was not my car just the same model.

As time went on people started to ask for other items and I found out where ‘end of line’ products went when after the production line changed in a factory. I was now selling frozen food, all branded names such as Birds Eye, it was just that Birds Eye had changed their product line and sold off the excess of the old product to a dealer, and I had found the dealer.

This became so popular that I rented a 20,000 cubic foot freezer chamber from a Congleton butcher, to be able to buy larger volumes at a better price. In addition, I had three chest freezers in my garage.

I then moved into Steak Canadien, which were one pound (in weight) frozen packs of ten slices of beef in single packs. I began selling this item to pubs as well as staff on the airport.
These packs went down very well in pubs because each slice with a little lettuce & sliced tomato on a roll were popular with the public. I sold the packs at £1.00 a pack of ten and the pub sold each slice with the bun and salad for at least £1.00. The profit to the pub was huge.

sheet three27122020I also sold packs of four lamb steaks, each steak being four ounces of pure meat, very popular with children, as well as the pubs because one lamb steak and chips was a lunch time meal, and of course everyone would buy a beer . . .   

custard

One unusual product, that I have not seen since, was a large frozen custard tart (catering size), which was very popular with families, including mine!  
Similar to the above, but frozen so you did not have to eat it all on the same day.

By 1978 I had earned enough profit for the four of us to fly to Australia to attend Maureen’s cousin’s wedding. We would be the only members of the UK side of the family able to attend. Few people went to Australia for a holiday!

Because I worked for British Airways, I could take advantage of ‘staff travel’, the airline sold discount tickets to staff.

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Chelsea Beach in Victoria, Australia.
October 1978.
Which was a short walk from Maureen’s uncle’s house.

Promos

AF

Working for an airline sometimes (very occasionally) we were offered cheap trips on a particular route if the airline was doing a ‘promo’ to encourage people to fly to a particular destination.

Air France in the early 1970’s offered a round trip ticket to Paris via their  Caravelle service for £7, (£100 today or US $130) which included two nights in a hotel.

Maureen and I had been married for about eighteen months and we had not had a honeymoon, because we decided to take out a mortgage to buy a house, so the £7 sounded a good deal. We left on Friday and arrived back late afternoon on Sunday.

We stayed at the Hotel Pretty, but I am unable to find any details of this hotel online and my lasting impression of the hotel was that it was cheap, but it did have a memorable breakfast.

The large oblong table was covered in a blue plastic table cloth, and a bread board was placed in the centre,  along with long sticks of French bread and a large knife for cutting the bread and of course a pots of jam – but we did not have any butter.

breakfast

The above picture gives you an idea –

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Each of the hotel guests were given a plain white bowl (without a handle) for our coffee, and for me it was the best coffee I had ever tasted. I’ve never been able to recreate the taste again.
Bread sticks were passed up and down the table and chunks hacked off by a hotel guest to be smeared with jam.
Our group consisted of  Maureen & I, another couple and two single males – all the males in our party worked together for BOAC cargo at Manchester airport.
We were not offered cereal or bacon & eggs  . . . but we did share the smell of . .

fags

I think smoking in Paris at that time was compulsory . .

Overall, we enjoyed our ‘foreign’ weekend away and it was not long before we decided to take advantage of our ability to fly with BOAC at a discount rate. This time we picked New York.

From memory once again I think we were accompanied by others from the BOAC team.

VC10 The aircraft was the VC 10 – Manchester to New York, non-stop.

VC10-Interior

Inside the VC 10 – Maureen & I were fortunate because we had three seats for the two of us.

I asked a stewardess (this was their title at that time) if I could visit the flight deck, she said she would ask, which she did and a few minutes later I was invited to meet the captain and his crew on the flight deck – how times have changed.

VC 10

Captain, first officer, engineer & navigator

The flight deck was quite crowded when I was included. I was offered a small pull-down seat while I chatted with the captain as he explained the routine of the flight. I was particularly interested in the navigational officer’s duty having been a deck officer at sea.

In the early 1970’s satellite navigation for commercial aircraft was still in the future. The first NAVSTAR (Navigation System with Timing and Ranging) was not launched until 1978, which was part of the US defence department system, and it was not until the 1980’s before the system could be used by commercial aircraft.

VC 10 buble

To navigate across the Atlantic the navigating officer would use a ‘bubble sextant’ . . . 

sextant

When I was at sea we used a sextant to navigate around the oceans, (see above picture for a marine sextant) the idea being to measure the angle of the stars or the sun by bring the image of the star or sun down to the horizon and reading off the angle from which we would work out our latitude etc.

Obviously when flying one could not measure the angle of a star by bringing it down to the horizon, because if it was night and cloudy the aircraft would be above the clouds so the navigation officer would not be able to see the horizon at 30,000 feet.

On the aircraft they used a bubble sextant, which has a bubble in a liquid filled chamber (think a carpenter’s spirit level), which provides an artificial horizon. While the navigator holds the instrument, the pilot does his best to fly straight and steady, and at a constant speed, because if the plane is jerked in anyway the navigator receives an incorrect reading. The pilot may do his best to keep the plane steady, but wind and air density can cause alterations, so the navigator will take several readings and average out the result. 

The black and white picture above the picture of the marine sextant shows a VC 10 navigator taking readings.

Thanks to the bubble sextant we did not get lost on the way to New York.

Richard Byrd, 1888-1957 (not the same Dicky Byrd that worked for BOAC) developed the bubble sextant using a modified standard marine sextant, and in May 1919 he flew the Atlantic in a NC-4 seaplane and landed in Plymouth U.K.  
NC = Navy Curtiss flying boat.

Richard Byrd’s flight took three weeks after stops in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, the Azores, and Lisbon,

At that time there was a prize of £10,000 (worth about US $600,000 today) for the first person to fly non-stop across the Atlantic, and it had to be completed within 72 hours. The prize was only open to non-military flyers. 

Alcock and Brown won the prize in June 1919 in a Vickers Vimy bomber, they completed the flight in less than sixteen hours.

Alcock_Brown_2-1

As they approached Ireland, they thought the ground that they could see was flat grassland and ideal for a place to land. The landing area was a bog . . .but they were the first people to fly the Atlantic non-stop.

The visit to the flight deck was interesting and it helped pass the time because it would be some time before airlines introduced films (movies) on a regular basis, which mainly came about with the advent of the B747.
Oddly enough the first commercial inflight movie was shown on Imperial Airways Ltd (the for runner of BOAC) from London to Paris in 1925, it was a silent commercial film of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s book – The Lost World.

Movies

More diversion problems . .

a small monkey eats bananas in a national park. Asian jungle with monkeys
 

On one diversion that had monkeys as cargo we had to remove them from the aircraft to have the hold cleaned and also to feed and water the animals. Unfortunately, one of the monkeys escaped and ran across the warehouse floor to the wall and within a few seconds had scaled the wall and was now sitting on one of the roof beams.

This was a huge problem because we did not have any idea if the animal was healthy or what deceases it could spread amongst British animals and humans.  

How to get it down . . . use bananas of course – a monkey will do anything for a banana, or so we thought.

We tried to tempt it down with various fruits in the hope that we could capture the animal.
Ollie, one of my colleagues, was adamant that we should do our best to keep the problem in house before we called in a sharp shooter. 

rifle

Ollie tried his best to entice the animal down and spent a considerable amount of time placing fruit at strategic places. The animal did come down partway and took some of the fruit, but it was always just out of reach of being captured.

Ollie was very concerned and kept telling me that it was only a matter of time before the animal would trust him . . . 

Finally Ollie did get close to the monkey, which emptied its bowels and threw some of the contents at Ollie and hit him in the head – Ollie was upset to say the least, so he rang the police for a sharpshooter muttering about the ingratitude of monkeys. 

The monkey was shot with a tranquilliser dart from memory, rather than a bullet.

asleep

Found the picture on the internet of a tranquilised monkey.

I’ve called my colleague Ollie, which was not his name, I haven’t seen him for over forty years, but I do not wish to cause him any embarrassment if he sees this post.

Ollie

I named him Ollie, because he reminded me of another Ollie, not in looks, but in ‘off set ability’.

One night Ollie and I were on nights together (there were two of us because a freighter was due from New York), I was working on the load plan for the final leg of the flight to London and I’d left Ollie to listen on the radio.

Our call sign was ‘Speedbird Manchester’, and the inbound flight was ‘Speedbird 066’ (i.e BA 066). 

Around 3.00 am the aircraft was still over the Atlantic, and they called us for the local weather to assist them when landing.
Normally we would ring the airport control tower for a full weather report because the aircraft dealt with us rather than the tower.

This night Ollie decided to go outside to see what the weather was like, and then wandered back to the radio.

‘Speed 066 this is Speedbird Manchester, – it’s raining!’ this in a strong Bolton accent

There was silence from the aircraft, until the aircraft replied and asked if we could be a little more explicit!

What they wanted was cloud height, wind strength, and wind direct etc.

Ollie held the microphone and said ‘Speedbird 066, this Speedbird Manchester please hold . . . ‘
after which he wandered outside again and on his return to the radio he said – ‘Speedbird 066 this is Speedbird Manchester, it’s pissing down!’

After that night I refused to work nights with him ever again.         

Tales of woe

When I joined BOAC there were about 23 or 25 staff made up of office staff and warehouse staff.

We worked a three shift system 7 am to 3 pm, 3.00 pm to 11.pm and a night shift, and certain staff worked office hours (day shift).

On Saturday & Sunday we had one office person and two warehouse staff on duty from 7 am to 3.00 pm and the late shift consisted of one office worker (this was before H & S had been invented).

Night shift was one office worker unless there was a scheduled freighter due in when there would be two office staff on duty.

Most of the office staff would ‘play’ with a forklift until they were proficient because cargo would be delivered for export outside normal hours, and someone had to operate the forklift to unload the cargo.

In addition, we often had the general public walk / drive in with heavy suitcases or packages.

One late Saturday afternoon when I was in duty a car pulled up and the driver and his wife wanted to send excess baggage to India as they were flying there later in the week.

This was not unusual so I told the driver to drive around the corner and in to the warehouse and to park near the scales so that the baggage could be weighed & measured.
Cargo was sold by the kilo or by the volume – one volumetric kilo was (is) 6000 cubic centimetres, but in the 1970’s it was also sold as 427 cubic inches = 1 kilo.

I walked across the warehouse to the parked car and noticed that the rear springs were nearly touching the floor, the diver must have something heavy in the boot.

I was told by the customer that he had a suitcase to send in advance, and because he had a ticket, he was entitled to 50% discount off the cargo rate – which was true.

I asked him to place his suitcase on the scale – he opened the boot and struggled to unload the suitcase and eventually managed and put it on the ground. I tried to pick it up by the handle to place it on the scale – it was so heavy I could not pick it up, because I was concerned that the handle would break. The suitcase weighed just over 44 kilos.

I asked what he had in the suitcase and was told it was clothing and some personal effects.
I then switched to Hindi (with my Scouse accent) and asked with a smile if it was so heavy because he had stolen all the dobi walla’s work.
(Dobi walla means ‘washerman’, as in laundry man).

At least this brought a smile from the customer, so I asked him to open the case and show me the contents – he was reluctant but realised that he did not have a choice.

On opening the case I saw that it was a Triumph Herald gear box, or something similar.

TH

Triumph Herald car, circa 1970

gear

Triumph Herald gear box packed in the suitcase. 

No wonder he had a struggle getting it out of the car . . . but he insisted that it was his personal effects, so I asked him with a smile to wear his personal effects if he wanted the 50% discount.

There was a long silence until I told him that he was exporting car parts and he should have an invoice.

He looked blank at me until I explained that if we coded his shipment as car parts it was a lot cheaper than the 50% excess baggage.  The light dawned and he and I entered the office and I made out the document (Air Way Bill) to accept the shipment as car parts and he sat at another desk and wrote out an ‘invoice’.

The full kilo rate was around £10 per kilo, so by claiming the 50% discount the customer was expecting to pay £5 per kilo, but be reclassifying the cargo as car parts the price was about £1-10-0 per kilo. (£1.50/kilo).
The UK did not change to decimal currency until February 1971. 

awb

AWB =- the above code of 406 denotes the airline, so the BOAC code number would be 125 – followed by a unique number for tracking the shipment, by telexes not computers.
At that time all paperwork was completed via the typewriter because computers were in the future. We had to press hard to produce, I think from memory, eight copies of the original via carbon paper between each copy . . .   later the AWB paper was produced with the ability not to require carbon paper. 

The customer paid and we left on good terms. As I processed the paperwork, I heard a loud bang and crash from the warehouse.

The customer had driven in to the warehouse via the ramp, but on leaving he had exited via the truck loading bay  . . . 

drop

This is to illustrate the drop – it is not a picture of the BOAC warehouse.

The car was balanced part in the warehouse and the front part delicately balanced in mid-air. As soon as I realised what had happened, I fired up the fork lift and drove down the ramp and placed the forks under the front of the car to stop it tipping any further. I shouted to the driver to put the car in neutral.
I then slowly raised the forks of the lift and eased the car back into the warehouse. 
The driver was shaking, but I do not think it was from the experience of nearly driving over the edge of the warehouse, but from the torrent of language and arm waving from his wife. She was not happy!

I pointed out the ramp to the driver and left them to have their domestic . . . 

————————————————————-

Life can be strange – working for an airline we sold cargo space in pounds or kilos – dead weight or volumetric weight. We converted it to kilos for shipping and charged in pounds, shillings and pence at so much a pound . . . .we used ready reckoners to work out the totals.

Consider 43 kilos at £2-6- 7- 1/2 (Two pound six shillings and seven pence h’penny / kilo), but don’t use a calculator!   

In 1969 /70 we were on the cusp of the personal electronic calculator at a cost that the individual could afford. 

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Ready Reckoner – having used both & I prefer the calculator 

Ringway

Manchester Ship Cana_2_5882501

Manchester Ship Canal in the early 1900’s.

Over the years Manchester had a number airports, the first being built near the Manchester Ship Canal, and it was called Trafford Park Aerodrome. It opened in 1911 and closed in 1918.

This was followed by Alexandra Park Aerodrome, which can be seen below.

Alexandra_Park_Aerodrome_1923

Manchester’s second airport 1918 – 1924 –
there isn’t any trace of the airport left because it has been built over for housing, and a main road was built at the eastern part of the site.

Woodford Aerodrome or Manchester Woodford Aerodrome came next, which was a former private aerodrome for Avro aircraft manufacturing. This company built the

Anson

Anson

Lancaster

The Lancaster bomber

Vulcan

The Vulcan bomber just to name three famous aircraft from this company.

The aerodrome was expanded in the 1930’s and after the war the company was bought by Hawker Siddeley, and years later became part of British Aerospace.

In the meantime, Manchester created a municipal airport called Wythenshawe in 1929, which was the first municipal airport in the UK.

300px-Manchester_(Wythenshawe)_Aerodrome_1929

Wythenshawe Aerodrome

This airport was always only temporary and only lasted a year.

  1280px-Aa_rackhouse_streetscene_00

What Wythenshawe Aerodrome looks like today.

The penultimate airport was Barton Aerodrome or City Airport Manchester.

220px-Barton_overhead

Four grass runways, 9.00 am to 8.oo pm operation, and this airport is still open today, and all the original buildings are now ‘protected’ because they are grade two listed buildings, which are often used as setting for films & TV.

As this airport was opened in 1930 another airport was being considered, and construction began in 1935 and completed in 1938. The airport was located near a small parish called Ringway.

240px-Ringway_-_Saint_Mary's_Church

Ringway Chapel

Ringway in Cheshire has a recorded history going back to 1173, and the first time the chapel was mentioned was in 1515. The chapel was used during the English civil war 1642-1651.

In 1776 the original chapel was demolished and replaced with a new red brick building. In 1863 Ringway chapel became Ringway Parish church, and in 1894 it was demolished and rebuilt and consecrated in 1895.

The airport is still referred to as Ringway by locals, and when I worked there it was called Ringway, but when dealing with people overseas we called  it Manchester Airport.
The airport official changed its name from Ringway to Manchester Airport (MAN) in 1954.

During the war the airport was known as RAF Ringway.

The hanger / warehouse where BOAC cargo was located (which is where I worked) used to be the training hanger for RAF Ringway, where they trained parachutists during WW2.
I’ve read that 60,000 soldiers were trained, in this warehouse / hanger, to be parachutist.
The troops came not just from the UK, but Poland, Canada and other allied countries.

Parachute_Training_at_Ringway_Art.IWMARTLD5635

I found the above on the internet, which illustrates how they trained the recruits in the basics of parachuting.

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As far as I can make out by using the internet, I think the hanger where I  worked is now the check-in area for Ryanair and KLM. The airport has completely changed since I left in 1980.
At least I was able to find the pubs on Google maps that we used frequent . . .

airport pub

The Airport Pub – which we only visited very occasionally, because it was very close to work, and noisy due to the aircraft, but I note that the pub has now made the noise an attraction . . . .  

A24-1

Back garden of the Airport Pub . . . 

Tatton ArmsThe Tatton Arms
Close to the airport for a quick lunch time pint and a pickled egg, the picked eggs were very good.

ship inn 01

The Ship Inn was further away from the airport than the Tatton Arms, and it had a  different ‘atmosphere’ altogether. 

ship-history2

The Ship Inn dates back 350 years and used to be a store house for manure until the farmer started to brew beer.
The wisteria plant that grows outside is claimed to be 260 years old.

I started this post with a picture of the Manchester ship canal, which was opened in 1894, 134 years after the wisteria was planted . . . . 

wisteria

Just a reminder of wisteria in bloom . . it is not The Ship Inn wisteria.

Flies, sand & water rationing . . . .

We sailed from Ras Al Khaimah for Dubai, which was a very short ‘voyage’ of about 112 km (70 miles) or about four hours at a very economical speed.

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Dubai Creek in the 1960’s.

As you see the creek was too small for a deep sea ship to use, so we anchored off the coast once again, and waited for the dhows to come out to us. Click on this link to see how the cargo was handled, which was very labour intensive in Dubai Creek in the 1960’s

After we’d anchored the sea started to get rough due to a sudden squall, and the wind increased (called shamal by the locals) so we didn’t see any dhows for two days. It was a  hot wind  that brought flies & midges that infested everywhere, and not just outside, but also inside our accommodation. The result was short tempers and a lot of hand waving – today we would have called it the Aussie salute

To cap it all we were running out of water, so we had to ration what we had left. Water was available from 7 to 9 am, Noon to 1 pm & 5 to 8 pm. We were not sure how long we would be at anchor and the water boats could not get out to us during the poor weather

At that time desalination systems for cargo ships was unheard of, we just got used to the different taste of water from around the world, a bit like tasting different beers from around the world, but not as enjoyable.

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Another shot of Dubai Creek in the 1960’s.

We did have a fight on board between two of the crew, I put it down to the conditions at the time.
It happened when I was on anchor watch, so I kept out of sight just in case it became ‘nasty’ at which time I would have interceded. I considered it better to allow the fight to happen now, rather than to fester and perhaps become a major problem later.
My concern was in case a knife was drawn, but it started like a girl’s fight at school with a lot of slapping and hair pulling.
It upgraded to a little wrestling, but neither looked like they were getting hurt and eventually the heat and the flies won, and they both gave up fighting and disappeared below to their accommodation.
We had an Indian crew, and they didn’t drink alcohol, so I didn’t think it was an alcohol fueled fight.
During my time at sea I only saw two ‘upsets’ – this one, and another were a Chinese cook became upset at another Chinese crew member and went for him with a meat cleaver. That one was stopped immediately.

Just to show the changes that have taken place in Dubai –

vintage-pre-oil-era-in-dubai-1960s-13

Note the clock on the monument . . .  1968

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The same clock in the same position today.

Oil was found in Dubai in 1966 and the first cargo of oil was exported in 1969, so when I was there, the richness of Dubai that we know today was in the future.

Dubai Airport 1971

The above photograph shows the new expanded Dubai airport, which was opened in 1960, and the first runway was compacted sand and could only take DC3s – in 1965 a second runway was built, which was tarmac – and the first passenger jet landed in 1965.

Before the original compacted sand runway was built the only way you could arrive by air was in a flying boat of Imperial Airways, later BOAC,  & later again, British Airways.

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Imperial Airways flying boat – top speed was 160 mph.

In 1938 they offered four services a week from London, and when the passengers went ashore in Dubai they were taken to the BOAC Jetty, and this jetty was still called BOAC jetty until it was demolished in the 1980’s.

Eventually the wind dropped and the dhows came out to us to unload cargo and sail / row their dhows back ashore and up the Dubai Creek.

The change in weather conditions also allowed the new first officer to come out and to take up his duties. It turned out that I’d sailed with him when I was a cadet in Dunera just before I sat my 2nd Mates exams.

The original first officer had been promoted to captain and his new command was anchored not far from us – happy families – my ten pound a month extra for being a temporary 2nd Mate didn’t last long.

Our next stop would be Abu Dhabi.

 

 

Tea?

In the mid 1960’s I paid off a ship in Khorramshahr, (which is in Iran) and drove to Abadan (still in Iran) to fly Iran Air to Tehran to catch a BOAC (now called British Airways) flight to the UK. This was before the fall of the Shah of Persia, which didn’t happen until 1979.

Iran air

This trip from Abadan sticks in my mind due to the huge amount of hand baggage that the passengers were allowed to carry on board such a small aircraft (small for today’s aircraft), from memory it was a B727/100. At that time  Iran Air only had two jets, one B 707 & one B 727.

The hand baggage of one person included a small primus stove.

After we had taken off, and the seat belt sign had been switched off, the passenger with the stove squatted in the aisle and lit the primus to make his tea. The surrounding passengers didn’t react. I could see the tea maker a few rows ahead of me, and as I unfastened my safety belt to tell him to put the naked light out, there was a blared movement of a stewardess moving from the for’d part of the aircraft to the tea maker. I’ve never seen a cabin crew member move so fast before or since.