End of golden era

Isis Town and Country - - News -

WHEN Ian Philpott took on a boil­er­mak­ing ap­pren­tice­ship at Isis Cen­tral Sugar Mill, Harold Holt had been Prime Min­is­ter for just three weeks.

Mr Philpott started his ap­pren­tice­ship on Fe­bru­ary 15, 1965, be­gin­ning a trade that was in its first year as a four-year, rather than five-year, course.

It was an in­ter­est­ing first few days in the job for Mr Philpott.

Not only did he have to ad­just to the new Aus­tralian dol­lar, which was in­tro­duced a day ear­lier, he had to learn how to use the tool of his trade: a welder.

When a young Mr Philpott welded the floor of an evap­o­ra­tor sta­tion us­ing a petrol welder for the first time in his life, lit­tle did he know he would spend 46 of the next 48 years teach­ing oth­ers to do the same.

The mill would be un­recog­nis­able if you were to step back through time with Mr Philpott.

Work­ers lived on-site in sev­eral bar­racks, they ate their meals in a cook­house and diner, and a large hall hosted reg­u­lar dances where the cur­rent of­fice is sit­u­ated.

“There used to be a big pine tree that would go up near the ten­nis court,” Mr Philpott said.

“We used to have lit­tle com­pe­ti­tions to see who could be the first to the top to put up the star.”

Times have changed im­mensely since those early days when Mr Philpott learned his trade un­der the tute­lage of Gra­ham Cole­man.

Mr Philpott cov­ered var­i­ous roles in his time with the mill, in­clud­ing work­ing in the milling train crew and in the boiler sta­tion.

In 1982, he was pro­moted to lead­ing hand boil­er­maker, a po­si­tion in which he re­mained un­til his re­tire­ment last week.

Mr Philpott taught more than 60 ap­pren­tices dur­ing his time as su­per­vi­sor, the first be­ing Alan Roser who still works with the company.

Re­tire­ment is never easy for long-term em­ploy­ees but Mr Philpott said it “had been a big weight off his shoul­ders” now the time had ar­rived.

“Just the fact you don’t have to get out of bed is good enough,” he said. “I’ll miss the place, es­pe­cially the blokes and the ca­ma­raderie.”

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