Roy Grant: Local Historian

Like many others who lived locally, my life as a child and working youth revolved round a hidden clock, the Allen West siren that wailed over the city first thing in the morning. I always knew when I should be getting up for school or going to work, and got both down to fine art of being there just on time. The history books don't tell you that, The My Brighton and Hove Website does.

Local Folk

Allen West Test team 1942

By Sue Levy

My grandad, Clement Trill, is 4th from right bottom row . This was an engineering firm but I don't know what they were testing. Does anyone know?

Photo:Allen West test team 1942

Allen West test team 1942

From the private collection of Sue Levy

This page was added on 09/05/2008.
Comments about this page

My grandfather Charles Henry Powell worked at Allen West.

By Kim Hurley (29/05/2008)

My father Herbert Maurice Martin also worked at Allen West - an electrical firm. He also ran in their sports team. I have photos of colleagues of his. I think he may have left just before the above photo.

By Val Gabriel (07/06/2008)

My grandad, Albert Jeater, worked for Allen West - they made electrical switch gear for all sorts of things. I once saw an Allen West piece of machinery on a wall in the Speights Brewery in Dunedin, New Zealand!

By Catherine (10/06/2008)

My wife´s grandad worked at Allen West. His name was Bob Roberts and lived in Southampton St, Brighton. He was the toolfitter and started there in 1954. When I was going out with my wife in 1970, he was always repairing something or down his allotment by the race course growing vegetables.

By Geoffrey Cervantes (17/07/2008)

My late father in law Eddie worked at Allen West for 38 years until his retirement in 1986. I came across switch gear at a tea plantation in Cameron Highlands Malaysia.

By Vanessa Chessell (26/08/2008)

I was an electrical apprentice at A Ws, my first job after leaving school in 1957. Whilst wonderful quality heavy duty products (especially for The Steel Company of South Wales) were being manufactured, a handful of employees also found the time and facilities ideal for making small individual items for themselves. I recall motorcycle parts being chromium plated, car wheels sprayed, fishing weights moulded and lots of other things being done during working hours that really shouldn't have been. A manager even had some of us working on fittings for his sailing boat.
Although I was only there a short while, in that time I grew up to appreciate that a few adults could also have failings and my time at A Ws became further education in every sense of the word.

By Roy Grant (08/11/2008)

My father Harold Collins is 4th from left behind the crouching man; sadly he passed away in 2007. Unfortunately I do not know what he actually did at that time but he left shortly after to join the RAF and returned after the war to carry on electrical testing.

By Jill Collins (28/11/2008)

I was just checking the spelling of Allen West when I saw your photo. I was an apprentice at AW from 1961 to 1965, and came back after university to work on industrial electronics, especially control systems for large dockside and Freightliner cranes (eg 400 HP hoist motor).  I would guess the photo was taken in the Lewes Road works (which has now been razed to the ground and forms one of the car parks for Brighton Uni) - opposite the old parade ground (now B&Q etc). And I would guess the men shown were working hard on war orders, including much equipment for the Admiralty. All motors above about 1/3 hp ideally need a 'starter' which protects the motor in case of overload, and the user in case of power failure/re-start. Larger motors rated at 000s HP need much more expensive and complex starting gear, and AW used to boast that no motor was ever too big for them to control. AW also made complete control systems involving lots of motors and valves, eg for powering a gold mine, with big control panels like you see in old industrial movies.
When I worked at AW, the main factory was half way up Moulescombe Way (where Booker Cash and Carry now is). The firm employed about 3000 workers and vied with Creeds in Hollingbury (made teleprinters, or was it cash machines?) as being the biggest employer in Brighton.
And now they are no more, though I'm sure there is a rump company carrying on with some of the old name. I suppose their trouble was an inability to move quickly with the times. OK, our crane controls were really ground breaking technology at the time, but they needed back up and investment and, when the rest of the company is struggling a bit, and overstretched on its building programme, then something has to give.
They were a great firm to work for, and I still keep up with about 8 fellow apprentices from 1958 and subsequently.

By Mike Wooldridge (14/12/2008)

To Roy Grant - Hi Roy. Can you remember George Webb from Newick Road, North Moulsecoomb? He was a worker at A Ws living next door to me and told tales of many cigarette lighters being made out of emptied bullet cases after the bullets had been scrounged from the soldiers in Stanmer Park. I had one of the lighters. Well made and efficient!

By Ron Spicer (30/12/2008)

Can anyone remember my father, Patrick Dowds? He sadly passed away in 1995, but worked there for many yrs; my mum Eileen Dowds also worked there, she sadly passed away Christmas eve 2008.

By Bridget (26/01/2009)

My Father (George Chaplin) worked at Allen West for some years during 1940s - 1960s. He was deeply involved in the Trade Union movement (Amalgamated Engineering Union) and was shop-steward in 108 Machine shop for many years.

By Geoff Chaplin (08/02/2009)

Bridget - I remember your Mum & Dad and your brothers Pat & Tom. I remember you being born as I was a neighbour. I also worked at Allen West working for John Roberts in accounts.

By Ede Scott nee Latham (28/06/2009)
For Mike Wooldridge. Creeds was Teleprinters and GROSS was cash registers. I worked in both in the 60's. But my father worked in AW in the 50's and 60's. I remeber the 'Hooter' going off in the mornings. And we lived in Park Crescent then. That's how load it was. Or should I say, how quiet Brighton was then.
By Dennis Snuggs (02/07/2009)

I worked at Allen West in 1970. I was working making switches which were assembled on large thick paxollin panels. The connections were made of thick copper tubing, and I am sure they were used for the QE2, on the turbo engines.

By Lennie Twyman (24/07/2009)

The company is still going now called Allenwest Brighton. It is at Peacehaven and has ten workers still making control panels.

By Rod Stevenson (15/08/2009)

My father Robert 'Bob' Barker started work with Allen West in 1938 and finally retired 40 plus years later in a managerial position. I don't know what his exact title was and can no longer ask him as he passed away on 3/9/09. My grandfather Robert Ryder and uncle Joe Ryder worked in the machine shop. My brother Robert Barker worked in the post room and assembling catalogues. You could say a family loyalty to AW. If anyone has any other information about my family members I'd love to hear about them.

By Freda Quinn (09/09/2009)

To Mike Wooldridge: I think I remember you from Harrington Road Hostel. I remember some of the names starting with John Smith, Bob Baldwin, Mike Curry (Irish student apprentice), Franz (the German guy), Ginger Woodcote, Roy Bowles, Chris Pelham and his mate Dave, and then there was Cannaugh the apprentice training instructor plus he ran the hostel with his wife. Allen West I hear is no more but the writing was on the wall years ago when they tried to do logic systems sort of plc. I think when I started in 1961 there were 4,500 people working there. 3000 at Moulscome Way and the rest at Lewes Road. The pic above is definitely the Lewes Road section.

By Brian John Baker (18/10/2009)

Hello bridget. I used to live in Staplefield Drive near your family and was a good friend of your mum Eileen and Tom and Pat. I was very sad to here about your mum and dad. Are you still living at Moulsecoomb?

By Jean (25/04/2010)

Re: the Allen West photo and believe I know the dark haired man back row and fourth from the right. Would anyone know if it was Eric Sturgess? He would know me, I am Ken Burt. I worked for many years for A.W. in 108 machine shop on Radial Drills then in the Automatics shop. Leaving early in 1971 to come to Australia.

By Ken Burt (26/05/2010)

What year did A.W. finally close down?

By Ken Burt (28/05/2010)

To: Ken Burt, Allenwest Brighton Ltd, the MBO in March 2007 has NOT closed down. This was despite the best efforts of Les Kerisson, the chairman up to the MBO date, and his changing of the registered compny and trading names (and transferring the staff) from Allenwest Electrical to Allenwest Systems or Allenwest Standard Products and then to Allenwest Ltd. During his chairmanship, suppliers were not paid and during the period of trading under the registered name of Allenwest Ltd, neither were the staff. We are moving Allenest Brighton Ltd back to Brighton and will be based at Unit 3 Hughes Road from 1st September 2010.

By Tom Fairhall (30/08/2010)

My grandfather, Herbert Alan Jeffries moved down from London to be a foreman at the newly opened branch in 1910. He's third from left in the cloth cap.

By Toni Tye Preisler (26/09/2010)

My mistake: Grandfather's name was Frederick Alan Jeffries (my father was Herbert!) who eventually opened Jeffries 'sweet and tobacco' shop, South Road, Haywards Heath.

By Toni (28/09/2010)

I was "Sister" in the Medical Center, Moulscoomb in 1953. Great experience! Cycled from Sackville Road. Last minute dash to "beat the hooter". Amazed by ladies working on drills (piecework) flying in and out to get fingers taped. Anybody remember George Brown (?dept), Les Voice (Test)or welders who came for eyedrops at the end of shift? Think my bike and later Vespa were well maintained. Thanks to you all! Amused to think we took 100pk cigs to people off sick, long term, (maybe not funny now, but am sure "factory humour" can cope). Am 83 now, but cherish the memories of my first job in the real world away from hospital. Thank you.

By Muriel Anne Clow (07/11/2010)

Hello to all subscribers. I started at AW in 1942 as an Office Boy in the then Sales office, Managered by Mr John Hall. After promotion to Junior Salesman & Service in the RAF, I returned to AW to a short while in 27 Assy. Lewes Road, then changed to a Junior Draughtsman in Sections under Messrs Jimmy James, Freddy Pearson, 'Bottles' Russell & ended up before early retirement, with Tony Jarvis in Design Dept in Moulscoombe. I knew many of the people mentioned previously, & many more, somewhere I have a compiled list of their names, so I will find this & add these to my comments at a later date. Best regards to all past & present AW's.

By Desmond (Dicky) Divall (21/11/2010)

Hi Jean, Thank you for the reply. I now live in Swindon, been there for 9 years. I still don't remember you, are you on facebook? Love to hear from you. I am now 44 years old and with 2 girls. I really do miss my mum so much. I wouldn't move back to Brighton, too many memories. Though I do love Brighton.

By Bridget Dawkins (nee Dowds) (06/12/2010)

Hi Bridget, glad to hear you are well. I  never knew you but knew your Mum and Dad well as well as Tommy Patrick and the little Margaret and John. I lived at No 14 just along from you but I left Brighton before you were born. So I never saw you. I'm not on facebook but my hubby is. I hope to hear from you.

By Jean (12/12/2010)

Hi Bridget. thanks for your reply. I left Brighton before you where born but knew your family well. iIved at no 14. I used to go shopping with your mum- we had some good laughs as well. I hope you are keeping well, love to all your family.

By Jean (12/12/2010)

Bridget: it's me Jean - this is my email address: ...mickmaratty@yahoo.co.uk ...

By Jean (13/12/2010)

Hi, wondered if anyone can help? My dad Michael Hall who used to work at Allen West from 1955-1962 approximately would like to find his best mate Danny/Tony Green. He had a wife called June and a daughter. Would appreciate any help. Thanks.

By Donna Hall (19/12/2010)

My grandfather Patrick Downes worked at Allen West in the fifties. I believe he was a french polisher - not sure where that fits in.

By Peter Greenhalgh (28/12/2010)

Does anyone remember my grandad? He was David Eric Smith but was always known as Rober.! He sadly passed away in 1992 but I'm sure he worked at AW during the war years and for many more after. He was in stores/supplies which we always found funny as kids since his shed was also arranged by Bin Numbers. His wife, Doreen (Dolly) recently passed away and I'm trying to get a bit of social history for my family tree. Thanks all

By Nicky Loftus (nee Smith) (21/01/2011)

Does anyone remember my grandfather, Stan Foulkes, who was a draughtsman at Allen West for many years? I went into the company as an apprentice in 1956 and worked in No 68 Maintenance Dept in Lewes Road until 1962. My grandfather wished me to join the company but, unhappily, passed away just before I started there. Looking back it was one of the happiest times of my life.

By Bob Munro (13/02/2011)

I worked at Allen West between 1970-80. I started as a trainee and worked in various departments until I finished up in the variable speed drive section. I knew a lot of the people mentioned above. Eric and Glad Sturgess both worked in 210 assembly. They lived at Lewes and, sadly, are both deceased now. Bob Barker was manager of the marketing section.

By Richard J. Szypulski (20/02/2011)

Both my parents worked at AW. My dad, George Elliott, and my mum Veronica (Mona) Pickett. Think she worked with her friend Liz Shipham, both from Moulsecoomb Way. Mum worked in the offices in the early 60s I think, and Dad in the Lecky bit. If anyone remembers the Christmas parties held there, my dad was responsible for the different coloured strip lights.

By Lisa Ingham (nee Elliott) (23/02/2011)

HI Jean, sorry for slow reply. Please could you tell me your last name. Thank you.

By Bridget Dawkins (10/03/2011)

Hi Bridget. My last name is Maratty, before that it was Funnel. I use this email mickmaratty@yahoo.co.uk it's my husband's.

By Jean Maratty (11/03/2011)

I worked at Allen West from 1956 to 1995, starting as an apprentice and then in 1961 as a draughtsman. I recognise several faces in the photo as follows. Tom Smith, 2nd left in the front row with a beer in his hand? Ken Tuppen, 2nd right in the back row and possibly Cyril Muxlow to his left. Good to hear from you Dicky Divall. I too have lots of lists. It was me who suggested the name Allen West on the front of Brighton bus number 616. A picture and a brief article appear on Brighton And Hove buses web site.

By Peter Guy (25/04/2011)

I worked from 1935 to 1962 in the filing dept - estimating. Married a Canadian soldier in 1942 and went to Canada in 1945, was reunited with husband. Remember me? Would love to hear from someone. My email address is pphillips5@shaw.ca

By Phyllis Oxborrow (11/06/2011)

It was announced in the Argus (30/7/2011) that Len Williams passed away this week. Most of us will remember 'Taffy' the voice from the valleys. He was in 240 assembly for years. He was active in the Labour party and was a councillor for years in Pier ward near where I now live.

By Richard J. Szypulski (31/07/2011)

I am sorry to hear about Eric Sturgess dying, mind you he was a little older than me and I am no youngster. I have a photo of him and his brother Cyril taken in a group when we were all boys and they then lived in Bentham Road.

By Ken Burt (02/08/2011)

To Peter Guy: Peter Muxlow here, eldest son of Cyril Muxlow and yes, that is Dad in the photo. He passed away about eleven years ago now. We emigrated to Australia in '65 and Dad continued to work as an electrical engineering draughtsman until he retired. My wife was looking for old pics of him to help me compile some of his exploits in the RAF's Coastal Command, 202 Squadron that I'm writing now. I have found two pictures associated with Catalinas that look a lot like him hence Tina looking for old photos. I'm a bit confused as that photo says 1942 but I thought he was in the RAF then. He certainly was in '44-'45, so he must have left AW and then returned after the war. I'm almost fifty nine now, much older than Dad in that photo. Thanks for sharing;  amazing thing, the internet!

By Peter Muxlow (30/12/2011)

My father Peter Brooker and his brother George Brooker worked at Allen West for many years. Peter worked in the Test Team from the mid 50s up to the early 80s. If anyone remembers them I would love to hear from you. I remember walking home from Moulsecoomb Junior School and standing on the wall in front of the factory windows to wave to Dad.

By Janice Barrett (17/02/2012)

My dad, Frank Read started working at Allen West in the late 1930s and it was there he met my mum, Renee (nee Kendall). Apart from the war years, when he worked as an electrician for another company, he was there until he retired in the mid 70s. He worked on 102 assembly and finished his working life in the office in Moulscoombe Way. My grandfather, Walter Kendall, also worked at the Lewes Road factory where I believe he was on the gate or possibly the nightwatchman. Sadly they are all gone now.My memories of Allen West are of the social club which was very active with children's parties at Christmas, sports days and the annual arts and craft exhibition. My most vivid memory is of the fete which was held to commemorate the Queen's coronation in June 1953. There was a children's fancy dress competition and I was Queen Elizabeth 1 -dressed in crepe paper.

By Kathy Nichols (19/02/2012)

I started work at Allen West in 1959 as an apprentice in their training school. We spent a year in there being trained under the watchful eyes of Mr Robb, Mr Kannugh, and Mr Line then we were thrown to the wolves so to speak, to complete the rest of our four years as apprentices on the shop floor. I have many happy memories of friends I made and time spent at the West. Every year, 15 to 20 apprentices were taken on for training. How we could do with companies like that today.

By Tony Caig (12/04/2012)

My grandfather, Ron Anscombe, worked as a draughtsman at Allen West for his entire working life after he was demobbed from the RAF in 1947, when he married my Grandmother Alcie who also worked at Allen West during the war making submarine parts. Ron was also very active with the social club and I loved going along on Saturday nights as a kid. There seemed to be no limits to the resoucefulness of Allen West employees when it came to odd private jobs such as garden tool sharpening and electrical bits for school projects. Ron past away in 1984 and Alice in 1997 both greatly missed.

By Shaun Anscombe (18/04/2012)

What a great site. My father, Maurice Blundell, worked at Allen West's Moulscoombe from around 1950 to 1990 when he retired and my brother John was an apprentice there between 1972 and 1976. When I was a child Dad worked in the test department with Clem Trill. I remember Clem because he and his family emigrated to New Zealand in the early 60s - I think they all came back after a year or two - and he sold his children's model railway, a couple of tents and some boxing gloves to Dad just before they left and we had it as our Christmas present that year. I remember visiting Ark Royal at Portsmouth for a careers' visit when at BSTS and seeing AllenWest switchgear - it seemed to confirm the claim that this was "the Rolls Royce" of electrical equipment! There's also something I've wondered about, when I was five or six Dad used to make extended visits to Birmingham and Derby for the firm. AW switches were being tested on new diesel locos, but I've never been able to find out which classes these were. Does anyone know?

By David Blundell (18/07/2012)

David, I think your brother, John, started in 1970 - the same year as me! We both ended in the Variable speed drive operation (VSDO). John left in 1976 to go into teaching. I have not heard of him since. The class of diesels Allen West gear was used on included the Sulzer 'Bo Bo' class. Which entered large scale service in the early sixties.

By Richard J. Szypulski (21/07/2012)

Hi Richard, yes, it would have been 1970 that John started his apprenticeship. He taught for a couple of years in Tamworth, Staffs and then moved to Derby and has worked for Rolls Royce and Alsthom's. He's working in combustion engineering now and has four grown boys and lots of grandchildren - there are still some engineering careers to be had in the UK! David, thanks for the information on the locos - I'll check them out.

By David Blundell (18/08/2012)

Does anyone remember my dad, Henry Moncur, working at Allen West for 29 years. He was chief engineer. I remember Dicky Divall. My dad is now 86 and still going strong.

By Maria Moncur-Byrne (11/10/2012)

My first job was at Allen West 1957 I worked in 108 machine shop for about a year, and learned how to set up and run a capstan lathe. At the time it seemed a vast place, and if you ever had to go in the sheet metal shop you were deafened, and yes many little projects were undertaken in works time.

By Dennis Fielder (11/10/2012)

I would like to thank all the workers at the A&W in Lewes road who had a collection for my uncle George (Potiphar). He was forced to leave A&W to look after my Auntie Dolly who had MS. The workers bought my uncle George a car to help him with the care of my auntie. This kind thought has gone unthanked by the faimily for many years. Unfortunately both my aunt and my uncle Goerge have now passed on. Thank you all for this kind act you all supported.

By Ray Stoner (27/10/2012)

Vic and Lily Knight nee Maplesden both worked for over 30 yrs at Allen West. I believe they met and married in 1943, at that time they lived in Caledonian Rd with my Grandma and her youngest daughter Nora.

By Mary Smith Nee Gillespie (28/10/2012)

I was an apprentice at Allen West. From 1960 we did a year of training in the training school under Ron Caneau Harry Lime, and Robb in the drawing office. We then went into the factory to learn about the different types of switch gear. It was good fun meeting all the different characters and there were quite a few I remember- Flash Jennings and the Shippam girls. The coil winding dept had a bad reputation.

By Roger Durrant (11/11/2012)

I don't know any of these men, however my father Ronald Scott worked for Allen West, both before and after WW2. I well remember attending the Christmas Parties in the 1950s. He had a mate called Reg Pellin who lived in Moulsecoomb.

By Peter Scott (09/12/2012)

To Maria Moncur-Byrne. Yes I certainly remember your dad, Henry Moncur. He was a great engineer, awe inspiring as far as I was concerned. He gave me great encouragement developing the AW electronic 'constant horsepower' crane drive. I'd like to meet him again, and I expect my fellow ex AW apprentice, David Blakemeore would like to meet him also. I'm contactable via mike.wooldridge1@btopenworld.com. Henry also made a lovely glass of home made beer!

By Mike Wooldridge (23/12/2012)

My lovely old Grandad Fred Harrod could well be in this picture. I know he worked for Allen West up until 1960 and believe he worked for them for some years. He lived in Colbourne Avenue with my Nan, my Parents and Brother and Sister, we had moved there from Moulsecoomb Way in 1959, I was born in 1957. I have vivid memories of him cleaning his medals on remembrance Sunday as he was a proud ex-war veteran (1914-18). One day in early January 1961, he went off to work at the Lewes Road factory and when he left at the end of the day he walked up Natal Road in the dark to what I remember being told was a Watch repair shop on the corner of Dewe Road and Natal Road, apparently, he slipped and fell into a trench where some work was being carried out. He unfortunately broke his neck and had to be airlifted a few days later to Stoke Mandeville where he died in 1966. He was paralysed from the chest down and had limited movement in his arms which was a sad sight to see for me as I was only very young. Looking back it must have been even worse for my Nan as she was left isolated in Brighton away from him and we didn't have a phone in those days either. I have a copy of the 'Brighton & Hove Gazette' from the 6th January 1961 and there is a picture on the front of the R.A.F helicopter on Hove lawns with the ambulance next to it. For the next 5 years we travelled up regularly as a family to Stoke Mandeville in our old Vauxhall Victor, 6 of us on a journey that took 8 hours (no big roads then!) It was sad as he was 65 at the time of his accident and nearly retired, I thought I would write this story to see if it would jog any memories or if anyone knew him. From what I have been told, he was a bit of a character and a lovely man, he was affectionately known to us kids as 'Pop'.

By Paul Clarkson (24/12/2012)

I remember Dave Blakemore in the ATS. He was responsible for interviewing apprentices and trainees. I remember him leaving in 1971. I think he joined Link Miles at Lancing. I also remember Dave Macey and remember Ken Line, Ron Canneaux, Wally Streets and Ted Smith who are all sadly deceased.

By Richard J. Szypulski (24/12/2012)

To Mike Wooldridge. Have just read your message and will speak to my dad, Henry Moncur. I will contact you via email soon. Really touched by your comments. And yes, his beer was legendary!

By Maria Moncur-Byrne (04/01/2013)

There is sad news in today's Argus. Tom Budgen (former 210 manager) has died. I remember him in the 1970s. He succeeded Mr. Boulton when he retired.

By Richard J. Szypulski (09/02/2013)

I worked for Wallacetown Eng.(Switchgear Manufacturers), Ayr, Scotland. The company was bought out/ amalgamated with Allen West around 1976/77. A number or colleagues and I started travelling up and down to Brighton for about a year until I was dangled the GOLDEN CARROT to transfer myself and my family to Allen West. I reconise quite a number of names in the above post and I also think I reconise the man standing bottom right of the photo, although it was taken many years before I joined. I am sure his name was John Paul; I remember he was a cricket fanatic. On my transfer I worked in the Contracts Dept with Maurice ... I recall we had both been offered the same promotion and there was great tooling and frowning for several months by the personnel dept and management to try and sort things out. All the guys I met in these days were all great to work with (with the exception of personnel)and they all made my family and I very welcome. I have kept in touch with one or two, Malcolm Simmons, Dick Gould, and I will always remember Dave Best and the woman that changed the office: Lynne McGinty. She sent the sparks flying, with her, then, foreword thinking about women in the workplace. Happy days. It would be great to hear from anyone that remembers that time. Ian Leslie, Ayr, Scotland.

By Ian Leslie (11/03/2013)

My grandfather Arthur Best and my mother Marjorie Best both worked at AW. Arthur was the shipping manager and had a special relationship with Brtish Railways who always accommodated the AW directors when they travelled by rail, apparently attaching a special saloon coach to the regular train when necessary. My father, Peter Johnson, followed in his footsteps and it was no small coincidence that my brother and I got to go to London and ride on the footplate of the steam engines in the Bricklayers Arms marshalling yard several times. AW shipped goods all over the world but particularly South Africa and I remember a set of Union Castle Line drinks coasters, dad's pride and joy, being got out when guests came to our house. Dad often talked of 'Mears' who I believe was his boss at one time there. The bane of his life were the 'end of month' figures which caused him to have a nervous breakdown at one time. He recovered, worked at the Moulsecoomb site for a number of years but was made redundant in his late 50s from AW after 38 years service. Sadly he passed away on 4/5/2012 aged 85.

By Brian Johnson (22/05/2013)

It's great to come across this page because, together with a small team of volunteers, I look after two Stothert and Pitt railway cranes on the Swanage Railway which utilise Allen West DC Crane Control equipment and switchgear built around 1948 to 1952. I am building up a history file of all the companies that had a hand in the design and construction of the cranes and I would be pleased to hear of anything to do with the Allen West contribution.

By Fraser White (23/05/2013)

Hi Fraser, I know the Swanage Railway very well - we have had at least one holiday in Swanage per year since 1999. I have always wondered whether AW switchgear was to be found in equipment and rolling stock at the railway - especially the Cromptons - because my father Maurice Blundell worked at the firm and used to travel away in the early 60s to test equipment on the fleets of diesels that were commissioned by BR to replace steam. Ian - I didn't know that about Dad and the contracts department - although he was very pleased with the promotion!

By David Blundell (24/05/2013)

I lived in Barcombe Road about 1955/56 onwards. My dad used to work at Allen West from then as an electrician. His name was Bill Possee (nick name Lofty) as he could fix things on the ceiling without a ladder, he was so tall. I remember the hooter early in the mornings to beckon the workers to work.

By Chris Starnes (14/06/2013)

When I asked about my grandfather Stan Foulkes, I forgot to mention that he was a leading light in the model club, exhibiting among other things, a model railway, working harbour and a Lee Enfield 303 rifle made of wood with which he stood guard at Brighton Reservoir during the war. A much loved man. I started as an apprentice in 27 assembly and went into the maintenance dep't with Codger Beech, John Houghton and many others. Our Foreman was Jack Dumbrell.

By Bob Munro (29/06/2013)

Both my parents worked at AW for many years, my Dad on assembly and in the early days my lovely Mum in the machine shop - their names were Mary and Alf Gandey. Mum died in 2003, Dad in 2012 aged 103 years. Life can never be the same can it? We lived at Stonecross Road for 45 years; they moved to live with me in Cambridge in the early '80s. The good old days! 

By Gloria Oakey nee Gandey (30/06/2013)

My father Carl Sargeant worked at AWs throughout the War; He was in the Radar department working on Naval Radar. At that time there was a Navy Admiral in charge. Did AWs have their own section of the Home Guard? I ask because he told me about doing firewatch at night when in the HG and going to a Home Guard base up Dyke Road. Has anyone any photos of the Home Guard? Also there is a mention above about 'scrounging bullets from the soldiers in Stanmer Park'. I wondered why this was necessary as he was issued with an old 303 rifle and about a couple of dozen live bullets which lived in a jam jar on the top shelf of our hall cupboard in Sussex Square. I remember climbing up the shelves and getting them down to look at them when there wasn't anybody about! The day that the War ended he left to set up in business on his own not even waiting to collect his last week's wages, - much to my mother's annoyance! Other names from the past; Louis De Gasperi from Coldean, retired from AWs about 1960, Guy Austen - Burgess Hill (Test Dept., but not in above photo as I sent him a copy about a year ago. I always said most rejects came from the department my father was in! Later Central Sussex Radio at Burgess Hill. (He is still about) Stuart-Brown from Patcham or Preston also comes to mind, I think he did time clocks later. I think he was involved with my father making lightweight moving coil gramophone pickups, (or maybe had one of the first ones made?) as they were all into wireless in those days. I think the press tool for this may have come out of the 'back door' at AWs as it was very nicely made. I always thought that Mr Goodsell of Goodsells Radio, Dorset Gdns was an ex AWs chap but someone recently told me he was an ex policeman. They all used to come to our house and play chess during the War.

By Tim Sargeant (02/07/2013)

Tim Allen West may well have had their own section of Home Guard; another large Brighton manufacturing company CVA, who like AW were doing war work, had their own section. I do have a photo of the Dyke Road (St Nick's Church) Home Guard, if you want to email me (pedrogroves@googlemail.com) I will scan and send!

By Peter Groves (03/07/2013)

Allen West did have their own Home Guard unit. The C.O. was Major Farmer- the then landlord of the Royal Hussar! I can remember several people talking about it in the 1970s. The training took place on Sunday afternoon at East Brighton Park. During the war overtime was compulsory. You had to work two hours extra Monday to Thursday and all day Saturday and Sunday morning.

By Richard J. Szypulski (05/07/2013)

Hi Danny Green is well and still living in Brighton you can contact him via Email at .........

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By Anthony Green (23/10/2013)

To Maria Moncur-Byrne: Good to hear that your Dad is still going strong - and yourself, of course! Greetings from Amsterdam

By Edwin (12/03/2014)

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