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Former apprentices turn back the years at Steam
9:20am Monday 24th September 2012 in News
A GOLDEN milestone for the Swindon Works Training School was celebrated in style at the weekend.
To mark 50 years since the school first opened on Dean Street, Newbury Crescent, a reunion was held at the Steam Museum for all ex-apprentices.
And, on Saturday, about 600 of them came together to share stories, reminisce and catch up with old pals over a pint.
Thanks to the Swindon Apprentice Facebook page, more than 240 apprentices from the British Railway’s Training School were put back in contact.
Organisers were expecting more than 300 to attend the event, but the final turn-out exceeded all expectations, with many people travelling from up and down the country.
John Baker, 44, of Weston-Super-Mare, was one of the organisers. He was an apprentice back in 1984.
“We set the Facebook group up in 2007 and that just plodded along with 20, 30, 40 members for a couple of years and it just slowly grew until we had about 200 members this year,” he said.
“We chatted about organising a reunion and I said I would help out, so here we are, we’ve got about 600 former apprentices together which is great. Everyone looks a lot different, some have kids the same age as mine, so there is lots to talk about and we will stay in touch.”
Especially for the event, the RCH Brewery even brewed an extra special commemorative beer called Western Apprentice.
As well as appreciating the ales, the visitors also enjoyed the displays of artefacts, including test pieces, magazine racks and the actual tools they used, plus wage slips and old currency. Numerous photos of each year group dating from 1962-1986 were also on display.
Myles Sibley, 62, of Reading, was an apprentice back in 1967.
He said: “We had a lot of fun, but I guess I must have worked a bit harder than I thought because I was pretty surprised to win the award for apprentice of the year.”
Simon Pullen, 48, was an apprentice back in 1981.
He said: “It was great because you came straight from school, you were 16 and you were immediately given some responsibility. I had a bit of money, I bought myself a motorbike and we would all go on holidays together.”
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