The Works

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Aerial View of the Works - Thanks to Bob Smith

The, Works, well where does one begin such a complicated setup.  Do we talk about the works itself or the people?

I guess it makes sense to talk about the people, as there are books about the works itself.  When I started my apprenticeship in 1974, there were around 2500 people working at Eastleigh.  They were made up of all ages, race and offering different skills and abilities.  There were so many different departments all relying on carefully coordinated programs to ensure that when a coach was brought onto the works and dismantled, all the various components would be ready to be removed, repaired and replaced in exactly the same place and coach it was removed from and ready to go back out into service.

The People were given a Category of status, if that is the right phrase.  There were Cat 4 staff who were mainly apprentice trained staff, tradesmen, and 3 categories of semi-skilled staff; Cat 1, Cat 2, & Cat 3.  From what I remember, a person who was not apprentice trained could apply for a vacancy at the works as a Cat 1 worker and as jobs became available could apply for promotion as a Cat 2/3, which would give them the opportunity to earn more money and learn a "semi-skilled" trade (although the paintshop had to confuse things, a Cat 4 Painter was a grade 1, and a Cat 1 Painter was a grade 4 Hmmm!) 

This Photo was taken at a 25 year long service award we think in around 1987

can you name anyone else? 

Peter Baker, Mick Lane, Ken Hunt, Derek Styants, Peter Fox, Mick Stokes, Russell Shepherd Malcolm Stainthorpe  please contact us

The jobs around the works varied from shop to shop.  The Vehicle Builders and Tinshop in particular, employing mainly skilled staff, whereas the Lift Road (underframe and bogie repairs) were predominantly semi-skilled staff.  I had the opportunity of working with  many lift road staff on some training sessions and although they were not "timed served" were certainly excellent trades people.

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The shop floor workers were subject to different pay and conditions to "Staff".   A shop floor worker had to "clock on and off" for duty, whereas a member of staff did not.  This meant that if you clocked on a minute late, you would lose 15mins pay.  Also it was not until 10 years service you were entitled to receive "sick pay" (ES - Established Service) so people would arrive at work feeling really and genuinely ill, but simply could not afford to live if they did not come into work.  The staff were on a salary, so they got paid if sick.

This Photo was taken at a 25 year long service award we think in around 1985 -can you name anyone else? 

Roy (Lugs) Levrington - Bob Richardson - Jon English (Electrician) Jerry Haines (Forklift) Derek Thomas Lift Road? Bob Lane (Lift Road)

David Hamilton (V/B) Mick Tyldesley (V/B)

Norman Feltham (Office Runner) Norman King (Paint Shop) John Newman (VB) Melvyn Hellard (Electrician)

 Colin Pitcher (Wooly Hat! Lift Road) Peter Rigby (Tin Shop)  Malcolm Stainthorpe (Works Manager)  Stan Withyman (lift road) Keith Schutterlin (Crane Driver)

please contact us


Shop floor workers were given a rate of pay (very low) and topped up with performance related pay (a bonus).  So if targets were met, we got paid the maximum amount and if not, tough! but I have to say, that in the 18 or so years I worked on the shop floor, I think it was 2 weeks we didn't get the bonus.  The bonus was not enhancable, which meant that during holidays, sickness and overtime rate you didn't get it, which was about 22% of your wages (from what I can remember) a lot of money!  Staff were not effected by this bonus at all.

I do believe that around the time I took redundancy in 1996, this was changed and shop floor workers had their bonus and rate consolidated and were not expected to clock on and off, but I am not sure if that is correct, but would have been a lot fairer.

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When I think back now, the conditions we worked in, left something to be desired.  The working day for shop floor staff, started at 7:15am and were pretty much expected to have overalls on (dark blue but changed to bright orange in the 1990's, and NO ONE wanted to wear them but we were forced too, yuk!) our tools out and working by 7:30.  We were allowed a 10 minute break at 9:00 and we had a canteen which was a 5 minute walk away, hmm!  They did start a "tuck run" where the canteen staff would come over to the works and we were allowed to queue for rolls and milk and a blind eye was normally turned if you were having a coffee from the machine at your place of work.  

Lunch was from 12:00 - 1pm and our proper finish time was 4:15.  A mass exodus would then take over the whole of Eastleigh as hundreds of people left the works and it would be a panic to beat the rush, unless you worked overtime which was quite regular until 6:15.  However, those that did overtime were expected to work for at least an hour although some people tried clocking off  at 4:45 not do any work and get paid for waiting whilst the queue's of traffic dispersed, but that was stopped when management realised what was going on.  An average week was made up with the chance to do 13 hours overtime per week, which paid at 1 and 1/3 rate, bumped up our wages quite well, but we had to put in a lot of hours for it, and lots of us did.

When we had our morning tea break, quite often as vehicle builders, we would be eating our sarnies while a welder was still welding as he was on a rush job!  Ahh! the smell of the cheese sarnies or was it the fumes from the welding?    

Foreman would normally be made up from people on the shop floor as promotion and within the Vehicle Builders you would have usually have taken a temporary position of inspection or progress chaser, until a permanent post became available and then if lucky (or unlucky) a foreman.  This group of staff were given the grade of WSB, WSC, WSD, and WSE, depending on the post, with the salary and responsibility increasing the higher the letter.  Generally, a B & C grade would be inspection and D & E would be supervisory.

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long service award taken 3rd June 1987


Front row Left to Right

Brian Smith - David (Dick) Burden - Slim Haynes - ? - Malcolm Stainthorpe (works manager)

derek thomas (lift shop) sadly passed a way. and bob lane (lift road ch)


The workshop staff were paid cash on a Thursday and we had to queue  for our money which came in clear bags so you could count it before you opened it.  We used to have a Securicore van which brought the cash into the works in the morning, which was delivered to the pay office "fort knocks" with only one door in and out and a small counter to collect pay adjustments, which was paid out usually by Lillian, who just seemed to know so much about the complicated pay systems, thanks Lillian for looking after us all so well, and probably the most important person in the works, and nice with it too!  The money was all counted out on the day, so it must have been panic stations every Thursday at "Fort Knocks"

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This eventually started to decline as people were encouraged to be paid by credit transfer, being paid 4 weekly straight into the bank.  The good thing about this was being paid 4 weekly meant that 1 month in the year we got paid twice (13 lots of 4 weeks in a 52 week year) so once a year we actually felt rich!

I guess generally and considering there were so many people at the works, which took a steady decline of staff during the 1980's, there was very little trouble between the workers.  In fact a few times some people had lost their wages and we would have a whip round and people would chip in, even if you didn't know the chap, cant be bad eh!

Racism, well I guess there may have been some of that in some areas, but I never really heard of it getting out of hand, and most people sort of worked together in a lot of ways.  

There were however, VERY strict line of demarkation, which meant that one trade was NOT allowed to do another trades work.  So if you wanted to do a job and a panel was in the way, you would have to wait for an electrician or whoever to remove a few screws so you could get on with your bit, or a welder to weld a hole.  Nightshift tended to be a bit more tolerant with this (cripes hope so anyway!).

Most shop floor workers were encouraged to join a trade union who were represented by a Works Committee, who would make decisions on behalf of the workers.  The Committee were given their own hut and were allowed meetings made up of elected shop representatives, representing all unions in the works, which was quite a few.  I did act as a shop rep for a short while, and I have to say my hat goes off to the dedication of some of the men who did this task as you could never please everybody and there was always someone ready to have a go at you over something, so well done and thanks to those who done their best in this thankless task!

Reps I remember are: Roy Dawkins, Frank Collins, George Brown, Charlie Kenchington, Ken Thorne, Ron Chalk, Ray Brown, Chris Quentin, Ron Pennal, Gordon Jefferies, Albert Neesham, Slim Haines and I am sure more will come to me later.

Within the Vehicle Building Shop, and forgive me for keep mentioning them, but its where I worked and know more about, pre 1974 the shop was made up of 2 trades, Bodymakers and Finishers.  There was always rivalry between the two, the Finishers mainly done the putting back together and worked on the inside of the coach whereas the Bodymakers tended to repair the outsides.  In 1974 they were amalgamated and became Vehicle Builder who were expected to work anywhere and got a payout for agreeing to it.  Even 15 years later, especially on the nightshift, there was still friendly rivalry between the two.

I guess I could write pages of stuff but this is probably quite boring unless you worked at Eastleigh, but if you want to know more or add anything, please contact us

Thanks for taking the trouble to read this.

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