How I earned my Living and other Trifles
Another page that is somewhat out of date!
After school in Twickenham, at Thames Valley Grammar School, I went to Brunel College of Advanced Technology to study Mathematics. As my mum was so ill, I was asked to go to a local college, rather than move away to University. I obtained the requisite A levels for Brunel, just, and started there at the end of September 1965.
Within a year the college had been granted University status and I was thus enrolled on a course to obtain a Bachelor of Technology degree. That seemed a lesser reason to be there while I played Bridge in the common room and also joined the Brunel Club that ran the bar. Joining the bar committee meant that I had to serve behind the bar and receive copious quantities of alcohol – life was so hard!!
I was enrolled on a sandwich course and so needed an employer during the summer months. As I had previously been offered a job at the MoD Admiralty Research Laboratory (ARL) in Teddington as a backstop in case my A levels weren’t good enough for college, I approached them again. I spent three enjoyable summers at ARL, discovering computers and, in particular, Computer Aided Design (CAD). CAD became my obsession and I learned a huge amount at ARL from Dr. Ian Yuille on the fledgling industry of designing ships by computer. By my last year I was determined to earn my living in the field of CAD, but rather than work for the MoD I decided to get a job with the company that originated the ideas – British Aircraft Corporation at Weybridge. During my time at ARL Ian and I wrote a paper on the technology that got published and I was totally hooked on the subject.
There were other attractions working at ARL. We were in the middle of Bushey Park which was full of deer and at the far side of the park was Hampton Court Palace.
British Aircraft Corporation offered me a job and I spent a happy couple of years working with the guru (Malcolm Sabin) and writing a new generation of CAD software to improve the design of Concorde, Tornado and other aircraft. Eventually I decided to return to the MoD to take the ideas learned back into ship design. BAC was a great place to work at the end of the 1960’s – I was working at Brooklands the home of motor racing and some wonderful aircraft were being designed and built – VC10, Tornado, Concorde, BAC 1-11, BAC 3-11. I watched the last VC10 take off and we also lined the runway to see Brian Trubshaw do a fly past in Concorde. But he didn’t turn up as he considered it too much of a risk. With thousands of people next to the runway. When the 3-11 was cancelled, in favour of the Airbus, a lot of people were made redundant and the experience was awful. I decided to look elsewhere and was offered a position back at ARL.
Back at Teddington, I worked on further developments of CAD for another three years. We managed to obtain permission to buy our own computer rather than use the department mainframe and that was the turning point of my career. The DEC PDP11-45 was a wonderful machine that you could drive so easily, rather than send in tapes for batch jobs. I learned a huge amount about computers on that machine and this eventually resulted in my applying for a job as computer manager at Sperry Gyroscope in Bracknell, Berkshire.
At Sperry, I was responsible for keeping their own PDP11-45 going and I became quite an expert in the operating system, eventually learning a lot of machine code. Over time I rose to run my own department of about 35 people who were dealing with issues such as software development, PC support, system management, network management, word processing and CAD.
The Sperry Corporation eventually sold us to British Aerospace and after a few years decided to close the factory in Bracknell. Just before being made redundant I got the job of Project Manager for CAD development at BAe’s headquarters – Brooklands!! So I was back where I started. I was responsible for a range of software developments including the very system I had written some 20 years earlier. After a while we moved to Farnborough as Brooklands was being demolished and re-developed. Then along came redundancy!
After a very short period with a specialist software developer, I found that the country was in the middle of a recession (1993). Every job I applied for seemed to attract 300-400 applicants. So I spent a year without an income, but used the recently acquired skills of Outplacement to work in the local Job Support Centre to help others to look for work.
Over the next few years I worked for the NHS in Exeter and for Berkshire County Council during its last year before it was disbanded in favour of Unitary Authorities.
For the last five years I have worked for Dun & Bradstreet (that now likes to be called D&B) as a project manager. At the present time, I am working out my notice before yet another redundancy.
So what will the future hold? Hopefully a quieter time, but enough income to keep going until retirement.
After I started working for Sperry, I realised I didn’t like driving 30 miles each way and we moved from Walton on Thames to Wokingham. What a difference. Instead of friendly faces popping over the fence for long chats we never seemed to meet anyone.
Eventually I decided to go to the AGM of the local Residents’ Association and the rest, as they say is history. I caught the bug of politics. At first it was just getting involved in nagging the Council into repairing the roads, trying to get the park improved or objecting to planning applications. After a period attending Council meetings to hear what was being said about our park, I thought it was daft that I had to keep passing notes to our local Councillor and hope he got the words right. So I decided to stand for election so I could sit at the table.
Well, it took a couple of goes but eventually I won a seat. Funny people in our ward! There were three seats available and they were won by one Conservative, one Lib Dem and one Independent. That taught me that it was the person that got the votes here, not the party.
I have been a member of the Town Council now for over twelve years and love every moment of it – despite the occasional rows. During my time I have chaired most of the Committees and also the Council (as Mayor in 1997/98). That year was a huge honour. To be asked to be the leading representative of the town and to attend so many events on behalf of the town was tremendous. Did I make a difference? In some ways I hope I did, but of course next year someone else takes over and they put their own mark on the system. My head was spinning for most of the year with all of the functions – often 3 or 4 a day. Everything from garden fetes to funerals.
I started by wanting to be on the inside to get something done about our local park – so what happened? I got a plan adopted, but as for action – nothing! Thankfully, the residents’ association eventually decided to set up a conservation group to manage the park themselves and now we have a Local Nature Reserve and work progressing on a long term management plan.
Having been bitten by politics, I then got elected to serve on the District Council where I was a member for 11 years, with one year off after losing because of installing road humps. In 1998 the County Council was abolished and we took over their powers as well, so the workload increased dramatically. I never enjoyed the District as much as the Town Council – probably because it was far more seriously into party politics. After a year in the new Cabinet system I decided I’d had my fill of that and didn’t stand again for election. So, now I can spend much more time on genealogy.
In case you came here straight from a Search Engine then you can see the entire family history site at http://jearnshaw.me.uk . If you came from my site then just close this page.