Ap­pren­tice­ship in the Fifties

Hills to Hawkesbury Living Magazine - - Community News -

Reg­u­lar reader, Ron Schofield of Baulkham Hills con­trib­uted this story (His sec­ond con­tri­bu­tion)

At the com­mence­ment of my third year at Bel­more Tech­ni­cal School I was do­ing very well with my wood­work, met­al­work and tech­ni­cal draw­ing. So well in fact that my man­ual arts teacher met with the school prin­ci­pal and they agreed that I should be ad­vised to leave school and ob­tain a build­ing ap­pren­tice­ship.

For­tu­nately for me, my dad was a pay­mas­ter for a build­ing com­pany and they of­fered me an ap­pren­tice­ship as an in­den­tured car­pen­ter and joiner.

The build­ing com­pany and my­self were com­mit­ted to each other for 5 years. I had just turned fif­teen and on the 13th March, 1954 I com­menced work­ing and at­tend­ing tech­ni­cal col­lege at Bel­more. At that time I had not had any ex­pe­ri­ence of pub­lic trans­port. My first job was work­ing on a five storey apart­ment block on Wolse­ley Rd, Point Piper. I would wake up at 10 min­utes past 5 and with my mother’s help leave at ten min­utes to six and ride my bike to my lo­cal church which was near Punch­bowl train sta­tion and leave my bike in the cleaner’s room. I would catch the train and get off the train at Cen­tral Rail­way Sta­tion and walk to Eddy Av­enue and catch a dou­ble decker bus or a tram to Point Piper to start work at twenty min­utes past seven.

My first du­ties were clean­ing the of­fice and mak­ing the morn­ing and lunch cups of tea and buy­ing ev­ery­body’s lunch at Dou­ble Bay. I was also look­ing af­ter the store­room and mark­ing the time sheets for all the work­ers. If a worker was five min­utes late, I would “dock” them ¼ of an hour. The worker’s called me “dockum”.

Af­ter some months the work­ers had a meet­ing and said as I was an in­den­tured ap­pren­tice, I should learn how to use the tools and get ex­pe­ri­ence in work­ing in the trade. I went with the fore­man to the tool shop and the com­pany bought me a ba­sic car­pen­ter’s tool kit which to this day I still have. In my first year of work­ing I at­tended tech­ni­cal col­lege at Bel­more two hours a week at evening and one whole day a fort­night. The sec­ond year of col­lege was at Bankstown Tech­ni­cal Col­lege which was a new build­ing in Chapel Road. The Tech course lasted four years and con­sisted of prac­ti­cal wood­work and tech draw­ing as well as the­ory with two ex­ams per year. In my fifth year I was be­ing paid for pub­lic hol­i­days and sick leave an al­lowance of ten days per year which in those days trades­men did not re­ceive.

I was with the build­ing com­pany for eight and half years and in that time I worked on two high rise build­ings at Wolse­ley Rd,Point Piper and a high rise build­ing at El­iz­a­beth Bay and also on an of­fice and fac­tory at Fairfield.

Af­ter leav­ing this com­pany, I worked with builders for another eleven and a half years and then for ten years I had my own build­ing busi­ness ex­tend­ing peo­ple’s homes in the Hills area. In that time I was awarded a “Pride of Work­man­ship” award from Car­ling­ford Ro­tary Club.

Af­ter 30 years in the build­ing trade I had the plea­sure of twenty years as a build­ing main­te­nance of­fi­cer at a girls’ pri­vate school at Gor­don. For the past twelve years I have been en­joy­ing re­tire­ment with my wife and fam­ily. Hope you have en­joyed read­ing my story. -Ron Schofield, Baulkham Hills

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