Wearside Echoes: Firm was a family affair

PRESENTATION: A presentation at  Bristol Aero Engines (now Rolls-Royce)
PRESENTATION: A presentation at Bristol Aero Engines (now Rolls-Royce)
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LIFE at Bristol Aero Engines – now known as Rolls-Royce – was a real family affair for Rose Boggie.

The picture of smiling canteen ladies – part of a collection digitised by Sunderland Antiquarian Society and recently featured in Wearside Echoes – shows Rose and several relatives-by-marriage.

“I think it was taken in the 1950s,” said Rose, 79, of Red House. “Among the girls are sisters Martha Gallagher, Meg Gallagher and Sally Hay, and I’m fourth from right.

“I was distantly related to the sisters through marriage, and I got the job through another relative who also worked there – my sister-in-law Vera Malloy.”

Rose was initially taken on to work at Pallion-based catering firm Peter Merchants as a teenager. When the company was taken over by Bristol Aero Engines, she stayed on.

“My boss was Mr Robb, who was a lovely man. I also remember our two security guards, Inspector Sneddon and Sergeant Burns – who had both been in the police force,” said Rose.

“I worked in the canteen for several years and loved every minute of it. I remember there were chauffeurs to take the directors to meetings.”

Rose left only after being promoted to waitress to the directors – a role she didn’t enjoy. After waving goodbye to Bristol, she moved on to work at Brian Mills.

“I missed it, I really did,” she said. “Bristol was a brilliant firm to work for. I loved being there. We had dances, parties and trips. It really was a very nice atmosphere.”

Another Bristol Aero Engines picture featured in a recent Wearside Echoes has also brought memories flooding back for several readers.

Initially it was thought the photo showed a new intake of apprentices in 1965, but Sunderland ex-pat Bill Anderson has shed further light on the image.

“The apprentices cover almost all of the years we served, from first year apprentices to final year,” he said. “I was into my third year at the time this photograph was taken, as were others.”

Bill, who now lives in the south west of England, joined the firm – then known as Bristol Siddeley – as an apprentice in April 1961.

“There are some apprentices not shown on the picture. These probably were on night shift at the time. After you turned 18, a lot of us worked two weeks nights and two weeks days,” he said.

The apprentice photo also brought memories back for Geoff Young, who now works as an engineer of the Kearl Oil Sands Project in Canada.

“I am one of the guys on the picture, just behind the “boss” smoking the pipe. To my left is Brian Oliver, just between us Keith Adamson, and just in front Bobby Thompson,” he said.

“Harry Metcalf, the apprentice super, is third for the left. Strange that I married one of his relatives 42 years ago. I now work in Canada but still check the Echo online, thanks for bringing back the memories.”

l All photos copyright of Rolls-Royce. More old pictures in Wearside Echoes soon. If you have memories to share of the firm, contact Sarah Stoner by email on sarah.stoner@northeast-press.co.uk