October 23 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Today there is much talk about how important they are and why it would be good to see more of them...there was a time when Norwich was a manufacturing city that there were thousands of them.
LSE is the last surviving industrial giant in Norwich, sending its high-tech electrical equipment around the world.
Formed in 1884 it went on to employ 3,000 people at three sites across the city.
In more recent times the company went on to make electric motors which drove the tunnelling machine which dug the UK side of the channel Tunnel.
The size of the operation in Norwich has been scaled down over the years but it remains one of the world’s leading producers of electric motors.
Apprentices, working at factories or in offices, large and small, being taught a range of skills which would give them the opportunity to make their way in the world and live a good life.
The apprenticeships, often lasting several years, proved so important to generations of boys and girls and in Norwich and Norfolk of the 21st century many of them are running their own businesses.
But the unsung heroes were those on the factory or office floor who were teaching those under their wing. Passing on their precious skills. People spoken about but rarely written about.
Today David Coe of Norwich wants to pay tribute to a man who he has never forgotten – the late and much-loved Frank Jones and here he is in the 1970s with some of his colleagues and apprentices in the tinsmiths department at the world-famous Laurence, Scott and Electromotors factory in the city.
“He was such a wonderful, genuine man who taught me so much. He always had time for all of us,” said David, now 71, who worked in the tinsmiths department at LSE from 1959 to 2000.
As David says: “You often write about men and women who died many years ago and the legacy they left behind. More often than not these people are well known to the general public.”
But there are others, people who lived their lives out of the spotlight, who have had a lasting impact on your life. People who never leave your thoughts.
“One person I looked up was one of my tutors at LSE who had the nightmare task of teaching me the skills to become a sheet metal worker over my five-year apprenticeship in the 1960s – Frank Jones,” said David.
“Frank was one of the nicest people I have ever known and worked with. He was very highly skilled and had the rare ability to teach and pass his skills on to others. I confess that when I left LSE after more than 40 years, I was, in skill terms, little more than his tea boy,” he added.
Their friendship continued outside work and David would go fishing with Frank near his home at Cantley.
“He told me that during the war he went to Wolverhampton to work in a factory making fuel tanks for aircraft and was sent out to the Far East where he ended up guarding Japanese PoWs.
He returned from war duties to work at LSE where he shared his skills with so many others before retiring.
Then, in 2003, then in his 80s, Frank went for a walk on Cantley marshes and disappeared. He was believed to have been suffering from depression. His body was discovered two weeks later.
“It was a sad end for a real gentleman who was always prepared to help anyone with problems,” added David.