mva title

new street bdg sm

When I joined SCD, in Billericay, in the early 1970s, I found this was an expression used a lot. Obviously it sprang from use in New Street, as most of the staff had served there in some capacity. As an 18yr old I was constantly impressed by the amount of ‘Government Work’, being carried out.

I was to discover that it meant ‘work for you’. Later, I heard tell of small, private, production lines, in the New St workshops, producing trumpet mouth pieces (properly chromed) and brass cribbage boards.

Later, as a Contract Officer, I chased people for particular production jobs - they were always very busy, but would always find time for any car component refurbishment.

 My initial role there, was as a "Process Operator - finishing". A paint sprayer, to anyone else. After I had been there a few weeks and my work was seen to be acceptable - prior to a training session in Mick Martins' paint shop, at New Street - people would bring odd things to paint. Most of the paint was either matt black (pp 1321-01-16 - where did that come from?) or oyster hammer finish. Both of which were mixed, with a catalyst and any excess thrown away, before going home, when the paint guns were all cleaned out, before the next days work. The "odd things" were usually; tools, mowers, car or motorbike, wheels and components. Well, as the paint was to be dumped, anyway, I could not see the harm in it and the item was left to air dry overnight.

 The "odd things" were "a test".

As new designs in isolators/circulators came along, new finishes were required and I was given both black and green hammer finishes to spray. This made a change and I did a few test pieces, for the DO and Development dept. They looked good. Around that time, the Company sold off its electric office heaters, for a couple of quid - we had central heating fitted - and a steady stream of these came to the paint shop, for a freshen up, before going home! Then it was coming up to Xmas and several children's bicycles, came in for a quick sandblast and respray.

And then the biggie.

One of the people who brought me car components to spray, was Peter Loweth,  our then Export Sales Engineer. Strangely, some eight years later, this was a role I had and Peter was then my boss, the overall Sales Manager. Peter was rebuilding a 105E Ford Anglia and fitting it with an Escort engine - this I know, as Peter kindly gave me the previous engine, a 1340cc "Classic" motor, when my own engine lost its rings.

Peter supplied me with some light-ad-grey paint, primer & undercoat and then some strange shaped pieces of aluminium, which had been cleaned back to the metal. This was correctly primed with chrome etch primer, for aluminium, undercoated, then top coated. It made a change to paint different things. Every Monday, there would be a cardboard box of parts - some masked.

This went on for a while - no questions - after all, I had a working engine . Then a few bigger parts arrived, which looked suspiciously like an aircraft wingtip and tail plane - because they were!

The penny had dropped, Peter was restoring a DeHaviland Chipmonk, an ex - RAF trainer and I was painting it, in works time. No-one seemed to mind. My chargehand, Bill Peek and my production superintendent, Robbie Simms, all thought it was quite funny. When I helped Peter through the factory, with a masked and freshly painted canopy (and I was whistling the "Dambusters" theme tune), no-one batted an eye-lid or even noticed (to quote a phrase, "Billericay was like that").

Some 12 years later, at my wedding, at Little Burstead church, Peter treated my wedding guests to a series of low level passes and aerobatics, in the same aircraft.

A good paint job!