Apprentices had 5 years in training
IN 1960 Ivor Ryder was a third-year apprentice with the South Western Electricity Board (SWEB) and was sent out to work on the installation of the supply for the administration block for the bridge. It's still there today.
"We'd just put a big oven into the Farley's factory at Hartley (where Morrison's now is) and we ended up working on the bridge complex for a couple of months. We were there when a couple of guys fell off the bridge. There wasn't the same health and safety regulations back then."
SWEB didn't do the work on the actual bridge itself anyway: that was carried out by Cleveland, the company that oversaw the whole project.
"An apprenticeship back then was five years," says Ivor. "Nowadays it seems you just have to go to college for five or six weeks and they seem to think you're qualified."
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After completing his training with SWEB, Ivor went to work for Hotpoint.
"I was servicing and repairing domestic appliances – we used to have about 50 call-outs a week, ten a day. It was hard on the knees, mine have pretty much gone now. Nowadays they all have big thick kneeling pads. I wish I'd have used something like that then, but we were young and it would have been considered cissy!"
After 15 years Ivor branched out on his own and has no regrets. However, he does miss the quality of the old machines.
"In those days the manufacturers seemed quite happy with the idea of things being repaired; now it seems they're more interested in trying to sell you a new one!"