Norman E. Baldwin, School Admission Number: 555. Attended Sep.1957 – Dec.1964. Forms: 1T, 2U, 3U, 4R, 5U, LVSc1, UVIC, UVI 3rd. Played rugby for school (U12 – 1st XV) and houses (Canterbury & Maidstone), Lost Property Prefect, Prefect, Joint Deputy Head Boy.
I kept in touch with John & Rosa Kingsland until their deaths and likewise Sam & Grace Mayo. I was one of the team that Martin Carr assembled to assist with the national and international indoor gymnastic competitions. I remember going to Hendon once and The Royal Albert Hall on at least a couple of occasions. I think we looked very smart in our cricket flannels and school blazers helping with equipment and “spotting” around the trampoline.
After ‘A’ levels I came back to school, to fill in my time, waiting to go to Brunel to study metallurgy, since the course didn’t start until Jan.1965. At school I used the engineering labs to do some metallurgy and the woodwork shop to make a nest of draws for a desk I made at home. Occasionally I was called upon to look after a class if a master was away and there was no one else available.
In our 3rd year at Cray (1959/60) we all had a metalwork project to undertake. The first term’s subject was aluminium and the last 2 terms were iron & steel. We had to research the ores, occurrences, smelting, processing, uses and history of these metals. This sparked my enthusiasm to become a metallurgical chemist, without knowing at the time, what a metallurgical chemist actually and tediously did! In the 4th year there was a school trip to Ford’s plant at Dagenham. This was a vibrant place and I then knew I wanted to work in industry alongside making things. It gradually evolved that I wanted to become a metallurgist in industry, solving practical problems, rather than a research metallurgist at the cutting edge of knowledge. I applied to 3 Colleges of Advanced Technology. Battersea (which later became the University of Surrey, Guildford), Birmingham (later the University of Aston in Birmingham) and Brunel (at Acton and later also granted university status and relocated to Uxbridge). I chose Brunel even before I knew that my parents were moving to Isleworth in May 1964. This meant I benefited from living at home during my 4 year thin sandwich course as a college-based student, except when I was away on industrial sessions.
Unusually for academic courses, my course started in January (1965) with 2 terms (Jan. – June) in college (1965 & 1966 at Acton, 1967 & 1968 at Uxbridge) with 6 months (July – Dec.) in industry. So unlike many students, we had a very short summer holiday to meet the minimum number of weeks in industry. At Brunel we were introduced to the Institution of Metallurgists and The Institute of Metals and I joined both as a student member in 1966. Membership and industrial experience led me to CEng status and eventually to Eur.Ing. status too. I’ve had continuous membership ever since. These institutes later amalgamated and swallowed up others to eventually become The Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3).
My first industrial session was spent in Hereford at Henry Wiggin & Co Ltd (producers of nickel alloys, for example: the nimonic series for aero engines, brightray series for resistance heating, monel series for marine applications and several other families of alloys). I worked in the supporting technical department, experiencing the work of several labs, e.g. creep testing, mechanical testing, wet chemical analysis, corrosion analysis, physical chemical analysis, metallurgical & metallographic analysis, experimental casting.
Experience in the works there sparked my interest in recycling as all these high value metal offcuts were alloy segregated and returned to the melting shop. My next session was at Colnbrook (OMES Ltd & Faulkners Ltd on the same site). OMES undertook screw press forging (mainly steel but also titanium alloys for aero engine compressor blades) whilst Faulkners were drop stamp forgers of steel. I worked in the supporting metallurgical lab, reporting to the metallurgist Dave Dossett, where mechanical testing, chemical analysis and metallographic examination of raw materials and products, including in-house and customer failure analysis was undertaken. My 3rd session was at UKAEA, Springfields (Preston, Lancs.) where I was assigned to an engineer, Peter Thompson, working on experimental hydrostatic extrusion of steel at 50 tons per square inch of oil pressure! Safety was very important! My last session was at St. Albans at United Glass R & D Ltd. At the time all mass produced bottles and jars were moulded in cast iron and the metallurgist, Tom Ensor, to whom I was assigned had a project to relate mould life to depth of cast iron chill. My task was to prepare samples from used moulds and determine the depth of chill for him, supported with photo micrographs. There was also time to experience more of the glass industry with visits to Leeds foundries where moulds were cast and machined and to some of the UG glassworks. UG also had a plastics factory in Norwich and a “severe metallurgical problem” there required Tom and me to urgently visit, when we showed that the problem was none other than poor housekeeping (not removing plastic flash from the injection mould mating surfaces!). UG also reinforced my interest in recycling as broken glass (cullet) from in-house and external sources is fed back into the furnace and actually reduces to energy requirement per ton of glass. This was before bottle banks and glass recycling was widely introduced.
Coming to the end of my very interesting Brunel course, one of my lecturers, Harold Lister, recommended I contact ESAB Ltd at Gillingham Kent, who required a metallurgist. At the time I knew nothing about the company but applied and had an interview with the Technical Manager, Peter Fielding, also a metallurgist. The parent company ESAB was based in Gothenburg, Sweden and manufactured welding consumables and equipment. At Gillingham, manual metal arc welding electrodes were made, continuous welding wire and fluxes were bought in for re-sale. A machine division operated out of Handsworth, Birmingham. At Brunel, we had only the briefest consideration of welding, so I was convinced I had failed the interview. To my complete surprise I was offered the post of Company Metallurgist, to be responsible for the metallurgical laboratory and to answer customer queries on welding applications and consumable choice! Fortunately, I had good basic and product training from the Technical Director Jimmy Gaughan and from Peter Fielding. What customer queries the sales department couldn’t handle were passed to us in the Technical Department. I got to know and support many of the major UK manufacturing companies of the time, e.g. Whessoe Ltd, Head Wrightson Ltd, Clark Chapman - John Thompson Ltd, Crane Fruehauf Ltd, Redpath Dorman Long Ltd, CEGB and British Steel Corporation. ESAB and ESAB Ltd had frequent interface with The Welding Institute (TWI) at Abington, Cambridge. Quite a few of the ESAB Ltd staff were members of TWI and the local Branch Committee. As a result I joined TWI in 1971. Again, I have maintained my TWI membership to date and more about that later. Primarily for use in hull construction of ships, approved electrodes are required to be annually subjected to testing, with the welding and testing being witnessed by the ship classification authorities, such as Lloyd’s Register of Shipping, American Bureau of Shipping, Det norske Veritas, Bureau Veritas, Department of Trade & Industry (commercial vessels) and the Admiralty (military vessels). It was also my job to coordinate these annual check tests and to sort out any problems. I stayed with ESAB Ltd for over 9 years and had 3 different functions. After Company Metallurgist, I was appointed Metallurgist, Quality Control, reporting to the Technical Director looking at the quality control of electrode manufacture at a time when the new DEF STAN 05 series of quality management standards were published by the MOD. I enrolled at Medway & Maidstone College (now Mid-Kent College) and obtained a City & Guilds Certificate in Quality Control as well as a Diploma in Quality Assurance. Following this I was appointed as Quality Control & Labs Manager, reporting to the Managing Director after the Technical Director retired and wasn’t replaced. By then we were also making welding equipment at Gillingham and my remit extended to this operation as well. Various other management changes subsequently took place with which I was unhappy. I toyed with the idea of setting up a cullet business, but in hindsight I’m glad I didn’t as the subsequent introduction of bottle banks would have scuppered that venture!
I found employment with Marley Triform Ltd (Aylesham, Kent) which primarily made vehicle steering wheels. Again part of a small Technical Department (3 of us: Tooling Manager, Design Draughtsman and myself – Welding & Metal Development Engineer), I was concerned with the design of new steering wheels; a safety critical item, and in particular the metal armature inside the plastic covering, the approval testing of prototype and pre-production samples to meet European standards, arranging the introduction to production, monitoring early production runs and dealing with production problems. Sadly, unlike most of the Marley Group of companies, Triform wasn’t particularly well managed and a contract to supply a very large quantity of steering (already made) to Iran was cancelled following the exile of the Shah and the arrival of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979. Consequently, my time there was limited to a couple of years, as the plant was closed.
I then secured a post with EPS R & D Ltd, Sittingbourne as Project Engineering Department Manager, responsible for 6 project managers working on the design and manufacture of packaging and handling of MOD materiel, some of which required long term storage. We also interfaced with many of the prime contractors for the MOD, e.g. Marconi Radar Systems Ltd, Plessey Ltd, Hunting Engineering Ltd, who were designing and manufacturing the product for MOD. The MOD moratorium on contracts in the early 1980s eventually led to my redundancy, but not before I had managed to resurrect a £1/2 m contract from another project manager, for about 120 environmentally protected containers of several different designs, after the prime contractor had frozen his product drawings and then decided to make some significant design changes, necessitating us to re-make supporting metalwork!
For various, including family reasons, I decided to try self-employment in early 1982, to utilise my knowledge and experience in metallurgy, welding and quality assurance. I managed to enrol on a small business course at the Polytechnic of Central London in April 1982 and met Brian Daniel who had worked for Calor and was now also working for himself. We got on well and later when he was arranging to be the sole UK agent for DeLonghi gas fires and arranging testing through BSI labs, he asked me to explain BS 5750 to DeLonghi in Treviso Italy, since BSI were making a condition of product approval that the firm be registered to BS 5750 Part 2. I spent a couple of days at DeLonghi in Treviso and explained what BS 5750 involved. At the time DeLonghi was virtually unknown in the UK.
Soon after I had decided to try self-employment, a subsidiary of the EPS Group (Wellwinch Engineering) gave me my first break. Wellwinch had taken over the Philip Brown Fan Company in Swansea. Three key personnel and equipment came to Sittingbourne to undertake a couple of contracts to produce cyclones in CrMo steel and stainless steel. I was contracted as the welding engineer for both contracts which kept me busy for most of 1982. By the summer of 1983 I was beginning to secure continuous work. Some were long term assignments, whilst others were very short term investigations followed up with a written report. One of my first longer term assignments was with Woodfield Systems Ltd, Swalecliffe, Kent. Woodfield designed and manufactured fluid transfer systems or loading arms, primarily to transfer petro-chemical fluids between ship and shore. The demand for this product varied and to keep the work force active, various sub-contracts were secured involving welding and fabrication of skid-based equipment, typically involving pipework. Not long after a management buyout, I was invited by the Managing Director, Frank Savage, to review the companies welding procedures, bring them up to date and present them in the new company livery. It was fascinating for me to be reacquainted with mechanical testing certificates I had prepared a decade or so earlier in the met lab at ESAB Ltd for Woodfields (Rochester) Ltd! This led on to welding support not only for the company’s products but also for sub-contract work as well as quality control and quality assurance activities, including data manual preparation – all on a part-time basis. One of the sub-contracts we undertook was for some large swivels for the Norwegian Gullfaks oilfield in the North Sea. One of the 36 inch swivels we made had been over-pressurised at site with sandy sea water and was leaking oil. Woodfield was asked to supply someone to witness the dismantling and offer repair advice. With my involvement on the manufacture, Frank asked me to go. My one and only time out to an oil rig. Eventually, as the company grew I had to admit the company needed a fulltime member of staff to fulfil my duties as well as an additional inspector.
Another, even longer term contract was with York International Ltd, Basildon, Essex. This was the UK operation of a USA-based, multinational, manufacturing chillers for commercial air conditioning, industrial and marine use. I initially worked for a new QA Manager, Allan Knock, who later became Quality Director. My first task was to assist Allan prepare the Marine Division for a DEF STAN 05-21 re-assessment following a failure the previous year under a former QA Manager. We were successful and then followed on with quality improvements in the Manufacturing Division. I was then asked to project manage various divisions: Manufacturing, Industrial Refrigeration, Service and Parts to implement and register to BS 5750 and later to convert to ISO 9001. Most of these divisions retained me to support their QA activities following registrations. For the Service Division it almost became a full-time job as I roamed the UK motorway network visiting their 11 offices scattered around the UK. Whilst at York I thought it would be advantageous to join The Institute of Quality Assurance (IQA) and my application in 1984, supported by Allan, was successful. IQA later became The Chartered Quality Institute (CQI) from which I resigned on 31.Dec.2015. In 2005 Johnson Controls Inc. bought out York International Corporation and largely by design, most of my support then contracted to the Parts Division. On 15.Sep.2008, Lehman Brother Holdings Inc. in the USA filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. I was working in the Parts Division that same day and in the afternoon we received an email from USA HQ that all contractors, worldwide, were to be off site by the end of the working day! That included me and severed my 25-year relationship with the various UK divisions. It must have been serious to send out that sort of instruction without investigating the potential consequences locally worldwide!
My remaining long term contract was with a small family-run business, Magiglo Ltd, Broadstairs, Kent, from 1991. The company made award winning domestic decorative gas fires. I had initially project managed their BS 5750 registration to meet the EU Gas Directive and later their transfer to ISO 9001 registration, whilst providing post registration advice and support, e.g. quality auditing. In the aftermath of the banking crisis, Northern Rock and Lehman Brothers, domestic money was getting tighter and sales were being affected. Despite new products and entering the radiant gas fire market, it was too late and the company went into administration in July 2009.
I had odd work after that but decided to close my business on 5.Apr.2013 after a 31 year run. I mentioned earlier that I had joined The Welding Institute (TWI) in 1971, which had many ESAB Ltd staff involved in the local Branch. After ESAB moved away from Gillingham, I decided to support the local Branch myself and was successfully elected onto the Medway Branch Committee in Jan.1988, elected Vice Chairman for 1991 & 1992, Chairman 1992 & 1993, 1998 & 1999, 2005-2010, Branch President from 2011. Under my chairmanship, we changed the Branch name to Kent Branch to reflect that members were no longer concentrated in the Medway towns, following the demise of much of its industry including the closing of HM Dockyard Chatham in 1984. I’ve had the honour to represent the Branch on the Branch Management Committee of TWI, including a couple of sub-committees. I’ve also served on the Professional Board and been awarded the Loyal Service Award for Branch activities. I have not been involved so much with IOM3. I did represent the institute once at a schools’ fair and served for a brief period conducting professional review interviews. My involvement with IQA/CQI has only been at local level in the Kent Branch when elected to the Branch committee and subsequently elected as co-Vice Chairman. I managed to involve both the local Branches of TWI and IQA/CQI with a number of other institutes represented in Kent, viz, Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), the Institute of Road Transport Engineers (IRTE), the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport (CILT), through which we have devised a joint programme of events for all our members to attend. This has helped to sustain attendance in diminishing member numbers and is a useful cross fertilisation of subjects as well as fostering opportunities for networking.
Jaqueline and I married in 1978 and our only child, Julia was born in 1981. After graduating from Durham, Jaqueline taught English to ‘A’ level standard and later undertook supply and private teaching. After graduating, also from Durham, Julia obtained her PGCE at Cambridge and taught in Peterborough for a couple of years, before finding a vocation in the Church of England. After a 3 year theological degree course at Ripon College Cuddesdon, Oxon., Julia was ordained a deacon and later a priest in Canterbury Cathedral.
Experience in the Cray Valley workshops and learning from my father, who was very proficient in most DIY activities, except plastering, I have undertaken many DIY jobs, which has saved us a considerable amount over the years. My mother was very keen on history and had a wonderful memory of historical dates and for the significant dates of family members, i.e. births, marriages and deaths. Both my parents would recount their childhood memories to me. After I graduated I realised this data would be lost when they died, so I began recording it and it developed my interest in family history and genealogy. At family parties I would show what I had produced and members of the family updated me. In return I produced charts for the family on demand. Through this work and that of cousins who have also become interested, I have become acquainted with and visited cousins whom I never knew existed, when I first started. On my mother’s maternal side of the family, we’ve had several reunions since 1986, in which overseas members have attended. I seem to have inherited my mother’s interest in history later in life.
Mr Watkins introduced us to Ordnance Survey map reading at Cray Valley and I have quite a collection of maps of all sorts, including Ordnance Survey. Despite a sat nav, upon which my wife relies, I still prefer a paper map, though I must admit the sat nav is good for the last couple of hundred yards and when touring in Europe it was very useful to be constantly reminded of what the speed limit was! I was never a keen photographer, but from taking my first snaps on holiday with Cray Valley in Holland in 1960, I have kept a log of all the photos I’ve taken.
I was undertaking QA before I even knew what it meant! Self-employment was not very conducive to taking regular holidays and when my wife was teaching, it meant holidays were restricted to the busy and costly school holidays periods. Neither of us are sun seekers. Lying on a beach getting sun burnt is not our idea of a holiday. In the past we’ve toured in France and Italy by car. In recent years, in addition to touring by car in Europe (France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany and Denmark) we’ve been to Canada (Vancouver to Calgary via the Rocky Mountaineer and Banff), California (Berkeley and San Francisco) and more recently to Australia (Perth, Adelaide, the Ghan to Darwin, via Alice Springs, Brisbane, Sydney and Victoria to meet cousins and a former next door neighbour).
From a materials background it is no wonder that I am very keen on domestic recycling. I’ve been keeping records since 2004 and we have achieved over 90% recycling in 9 of those 12 years, including the past 7. We have installed a solar PV system at home, which not only supplements our pensions but also reduces our energy consumption of both electricity and gas. The latter because we divert some of the electricity generated to the immersion heater and only use the gas boiler for central heating. So we’re trying to do our bit for the planet, including the need to de-clutter in our retirement. For my daughter I am writing my memoirs to show her what an uninteresting life I’ve had! * * *
Norman E Baldwin, CEng, BTech(Hons), DipQA, FCQI*, CQP*, MIMMM, SenMWeld
* resigned 31 Dec 2015