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The Reyrolle Story: Twelve - Cup Final

A Reyrolle's apprentice tells of a thrilling day at the Cup final.

Robert Owen continues his history of a great engineering firm.

To purchase a copy of Robert's book please click on http://www.amazon.co.uk/Reyrolle-Story-History-Co-Ltd/dp/1905295073/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1245678876&sr=1-1

As well as selling switchgear, Reyrolle was also responsible for erecting and commissioning their products at power and sub-stations throughout the country. This work was done by a team of engineers, craftsmen and assistants, who became known as Outside Erectors. These were often Reyrolle staff who volunteered to work away from Hebburn for increased pay and other benefits. However, as demand grew, Outside Erectors began to be recruited locally, and this led to the company's first ever strike. This was at Barking Power Station in 1924, when the locals were not happy with Reyrolle's rate of pay. The strike lasted three weeks before a mutually acceptable solution was found.

Some apprentices worked as part of the Outside Erection team. George Gibertson was one, and writing in 1974, he tells of the following experience:

"Fifty years ago, I was a Reyrolle apprentice working in the London area and was involved in the erection of power supply equipment for Wembley Park Exhibition Hall, in preparation for the great Empire Exhibition, which took place in April 1924. The Park flanked Wembley Stadium and early on Saturday morning, 27th April, I was engaged in connecting lights on the Reyrolle Stand, when a group of Newcastle United supporters passed by. Seeing and recognising the Reyrolle name, they stopped for a chat and asked if I was going to the Newcastle v Aston Villa Cup Final. When I replied that I had no ticket, they offered two free tickets! Mr H Crowe, our London Area Manager, readily agreed to allow Harry Cooney, a stand painter from Hebburn and myself, to attend! We saw the first half during which Villa peppered the Newcastle goal but at half time, there was still no score. Villa fans then offered odds of 2-1 on their team winning and in blind faith, I accepted many bets. In a thrilling second half, the tables were turned and Newcastle eventually won 2 - 0. On my return to my job after the game, I was voiceless, happy, and several pounds richer, all without a penny cost!"

After that experience, George spent all his working life as an Outside Erector, many of them as Area Superintendent for South Wales.

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