Bill Scripps - Memories of his time working at Wolverton Works

Bill Scripps
Bill Scripps
I, William David Alfred Scripps was born at Harold Bedfordshire on the 14th of December 1917. Lived at Odell for a short time moved to Chichley with my parents in the year 1921. My father was an all round farm worker. We moved to Lower Balney Farm, Castlethorpe, which was part of Mr. J.E. Whiting’s farm in April 1924. Later, in the year of 1931 we moved to Castlethorpe Mill, where I helped my father now and again to grind the corn with the water wheel.

I started working for Mr. J.E. Whiting at the age of 14 years as an all round farm worker. I worked for Mr. Whiting until 1955.

I joined The Local Defence Volunteers during the early part of the World War II. Later becoming a Corporal in Castlethorpe Home Guard.

In November 1955 I started working for British Rail Wolverton until I retired in December 1982 having completed 27½ years service. Just over 4,000 people were employed at British Rail Wolverton in 1955.

I started work at 7.30 and finished at 5.30p.m. One week’s wages after stoppages for a labourer was just over £10. My first job was working on a traverser as a scotcher stopping the carriages and wagons in and out of the shop. The scotcher was made of bound rope which we put in front of the wheels. There was 22 miles of railway track, and nine traversers situated between the shops, to move carriages and wagons in and out of the shops

My second job was as a labourer working with a skilled mate on the roofs of all the shops. Slating and making good all cracked and damaged slates and also general maintenance

The third job, was working in the sawmill with machines, helping to make signal and telegraph boxes for main lines. Office furniture, and tables ad chairs for waiting rooms and platform seats, also cleats for cables.

My forth job was treating water for the power house where they made steam for working steam hammers for the smithy and heating for the shops. Also all sewerage and drain work and cleaning all the guttering on the shops. Also cleaning the tanks that had contained caustic. Genklene was used in the fitting shop for cleaning metal and this had to be disposed of for safty reasons. Cyanide was used in the smithy for hardening metal. Caustic soda boshes were used in the lifting shop for clean bogies.

The asbestos houses involved removal of insulating asbestos which was once sprayed on the interior of stock. To remove all the asbestos water jets were sprayed over the stock and the water being collected in a water pit. The asbestos was then removed bagged up, collected by lorry, and taken to a safe location. Protective suits had to be worn with helmets with an airline pipe attachment.

The Bath House near the Stony Stratford road was used for cell shop workmen to have a bath or shower after work to remove dust that contained lead. Lead paste was put in the batteries that were located underneath the carriage to provide light inside the carriages

Women in Wolverton Works
There was a laundry worked by women, also about six ladies with small lorries and trailers used to collect all kinds of goods from the main stores and take them to any shop where they was needed.

There were two canteens, one large one and a small one located near the entry to the sawmill. From the small one, at about 9.30a.m., several ladies with trolleys carrying tea urns and food went to all the shops. At this time the men were allowed a short break.

List of Shops
Ambulance Room
Asbestos House x 2
Brass Foundry - Coppers where set in the ground - the brass was melted and then poured into moulds to make the brass fittings.
Buffing & Dipping Shop - olishing of brass door handles etc.
Building & Maintenance Shop
Bus & Road Vehicle Shop - There was a sawmill in the bus shop where they cut their own timber for the items they were building. They built lorries, containers, crossing gates, signal boxes, cable casing wheelbarrows, platform trucks, sack barrows etc.
Cell Shop - Where they made cells for the batteries.
Drawing Office
East Paint Shop
Electric Shop - Where they rewired dynamos, etc.
Fibre Glass Shop
Fire Station
Finishing Shop - Mainly woodwork and veneering.
Fitting Shop
Gas Shop -Repaired gas leaks in the factory.
Glass Cutting Shop
Hammer Shed - Where metal was cut to requirements.
Hair Room - Removing dust from seats and hair when being renewed.
Hardwood Stores
Iron Foundry - The same procedure as the Brass Foundry.
Joiners Shop - Where cabinet makers produced office furniture.
Laundry - Where they washed curtains that were in the carriages and bed lined from the sleeping carriages etc.
Leatherwork Room -Part of the trimming shop make and repair bags for the guards, doorstraps for carriages and in the time when horses were used saddlery.
Lifting Shop - Lift the vehicle to remove the bogies to do maintenance on the bogies.
Main Stores – several
Millwright Shop - Repaired machinery and sharpened circular saw blades.
Oil Stores
Pattern Makers Shop -Produced wooden patterns for both the steel and brass foundaries.
Plumbers Shop
Royal Train Shed
Sawmill Shop - The wood arrived at the shop where it was roughly cut at the first stage, then moved onto the next stage where it was cut out to the required shape from templates and also planed. Where need, mortice and tenons were done so that the wood was ready for asembly in other shops.
Sewing Room - Made curtains for coaches and sewed the seating for the coaches.
Smithy Shop - Made buffers, springs and did under carriage work
Steam Shop -Used for bending wooden roof bars for covered Goods Vans.
Steel Hardening Shop
Tinsmith Shop - Tea urns made of copper for the trollys that went round the shop. Lamps to go on the coaches front and rear, large oil cans that were be used for oiling up the trains.
Wagon Shop -Where the wagons were built. In the 1950s vans for transporting bananas were built there.
Welding Arcade
West Paint Shop
Wheel Shop