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Two Rooms And A View: 106 - The Turning Point

Robert Owen embarks on a different career path.

To read earlier chapters of Robert's life story please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/two_rooms_and_a_view/

Finally, in December 1960, I accepted a Junior Draughtsman's job at Adams Powel - a package machinery firm in the Team Valley, Gateshead - and left Reyrolles after
ten-and-a-half years. This was against the advice of Eddie Allison, my boss in the drawing office and my ever-watchful mother. Eddie said he didn't think I was ambitious enough for the outside world, and my mother always thought I had a job for life at Reyrolles. Little did she know what was to happen later that decade, when the company started making staff and workers redundant.

I had only been at Adams Powel about four weeks when I got a delayed reply from another job I had applied for at the same time. This was for an impressive-sounding Methods Engineer's post at Geo Angus (Oil Seals) at Wallsend. I went for interview, got the job and it proved to be the turning point of my career. It was here that I discovered the previously unknown world of modern production management.

The work was so stimulating that I changed my course of study to obtain a qualification in Work Study. This acted as a further incentive and I enrolled for a Diploma in Management Studies.

Dual methods of study were employed. I attended Newcastle Polytechnic two nights a week and supplemented this with a correspondence course - years before the Open University was ever thought about. It was a pleasant change to study subjects in which I had an interest, such as economics and sociology istead of mechanics and heat engines.

Our first child, Michael, was born in May 1961. Most men will recall where they were when their first offspring was born. I was refereeing a B B football match at the Dragon. I phoned the nursing home after the game and found out I was a father with mother and son doing well.

Like most mothers of the time, Angela immediately gave up her full-time job as a secretary to concentrate on motherhood. However, from September 1961, she was asked to teach four afternoons a week at Hebburn Technical College. This involved a great deal of travelling on her part and the endless co-operation of her mother as a baby sitter. The college seemed to appreciate her services because they asked her back for the next three years. Her earnings helped us in many ways during the first few years of married life and acted as a spur to me to seek a career in teaching.

When Angela gave up work, she wanted company so we went out to buy a puppy. We came back with a 3-day old kitten. Bunty was with us for 16 years and had a very eventful life. She ran under a bus in Mowbray Road, spent the night on the roof and was unable to get down until I borrowed a ladder and showed her the escape route. Then when I tried some D.I.Y. and fitted some 3-point plugs in our new flat, she was lost for two days under the floor boards. Many years later, she tried to fly. While chasing a bird, she jumped out of an open upstairs window and learnt the hard way, that cats can't fly.

It was during the summer of 1961 that I made a conscious decision to pass my time-consuming B B work over to someone else and concentrate on my studies. Russell Gidney, the Battalion Secretary tried to talk me out of this, and we agreed that we would review the situation m two years. As time passed however, my studies grew and I never returned to B B work. As the organisation had given me so much during the last 15 years, I remember feeling very unhappy about my decision.


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