Metropolitan Vickers Early Recollections

A.G.M. 19th September, 1985.
Mr. F. Garlick opened his address in the customary manner by reviewing his career up to retirement, a resume of which is as follows:-

After matriculation, employment was obtained as a Trade Apprentice at Dick Kerr Works, English Electric, Preston. Enjoyable conditions, with experience in all departments involved with the manufacture of Water Turbine Equipment. Closure of the E.E. Works – 1930/31 was of some concern, but an opportunity to join Metropolitan – Vickers, Trafford Park, Manchester was taken without hesitation and continued until late 1948.

Early Recollections – Metropolitan Vickers.

Introduction to Steel Product’s Dept., and privileged to see one of the first welded cylinder and Gear-Cases, for a Steam Turbine Unit, a development by the way, which very much affected future Iron Foundry production. I was also fortunate to see the issue of a turbine cylinder casting weighing’ 65 Tons. I do not wish to bore you with too many details, but pride prompts me to refer to the Turbine Unit built for Battersea – 3 Cylinder – 105,000 KW. 1500 R.P.M., which proved to be the largest single axis unit in Europe ! Further sets were built for Brinsdown, Littlebrook and Willesden up to 1948, when a Thermal Efficiency of 26.76% was obtained, compared with about 17% in 1924. I understand an efficiency figure of 37.7% was achieved in 1982. M.V’s Generating Units obtained top efficiency in 20 out of 27 years during this period.

The need for efficiency improvement, continued with turbine blading and feed-water heating development of special interest. It will be appreciated a sence of proportion, with more than one eye on economy was essential. I recollect issue of a report by Dr.H.L.Guy, Senior Engineer, to the design and engineering staff, i.e. that to obtain an increase of 1% efficiency may warrant an increase of 10% in the price of the finished Unit, with inevitable concern to the potential customer. Surely an example of striking a sense of proportion.

During the mid-period of the war years, I acted as a liaison official to two members of the Soviet Trade Delegation. My contact, was named Mr. Elojenko, who unfortunately had a limited knowledge of the English language. The Projects were 35 Mobile Power Units, 1000 KW- 5,000 KW. plus 10 Units of 500 KW. The Units, e.g. Turbine, Condenser etc. were mounted on Trucks or Skids. Perhaps, I should enlarge on the need for such unusual Units. From hints and the odd spot of information given by Mr. Elojenko, the reasons were as follows:- The Germans after their considerable success in Europe, were now planning an advance on Moscow before the Winter and inevitable snow. It is of course now part of history, the plan proved a disaster. Russia having every confidence of Germany’s failure, knew, they, the Germans, in the inevitable retreat, would destroy everything likely to be of value and need to the Russians – the outcome, – no heat or light available to the towns and villages!! Hence the need of Mobile Generator Sets.

My work with Mr. Elojenko proved very difficult, we both were well aware the Units were “more important than bread”, nonetheless, Mr. Elojenko would not deviate the proverbial “thou” from the Specification, consequently, there were frequent delays, plus, acceleration of the loss of hair from “yours truly”! The following details, no doubt explain the reason or reasons for Mr. Elojenko’s non-acceptance of any deviation from the Specification:- During a visit to the Iron Foundry for inspection purposes we passed along a brick wall of some 25 yards in length. Mr. Elojenko suddenly stopped and for the first time in our Association opened the conversation, by referring to the wall as being similar to one near his home in KIEV, but with one difference, the wall was peppered with holes, also blood stains!!!! The outcome – a long period of silence. It is hardly necessary for me to report, I never again made any request to Mr. Elojenko for acceptance of a deviation from the Specification.

At the end of the War, a farewell party was arranged by the Management of M.V’s with Mr. Elojenko as guest, along with the members of the team responsible for the Mobile Units. The usual expressions of goodwill were given and wishes for a happy reunion with his family. Imagine our surprise when Mr. Elojenko rose to reply, given not only in reasonably good English, but remembering each members name (about seventeen in number) and in the correct order of seniority!! A remarkable man and no mean engineer.

In the late ‘1940’s I sought a change and obtained a position with an American firm of Consulting Engineers in London. Unfortunately, housing difficulties compelled me to resign. Meanwhile, an advertisement in the then Manchester Guardian, (spotted by Mrs. prompted me to approach Turner and Newall Ltd., Manchester. I was fortunate enough to obtain the position, which I held for 20 years, until retirement. The job entailed world-wide travel, from as far north as Trondheim, Norway, to Dunedin in New Zealand. My responsibilities involved Pumps and Compressors applications in every stage of Industry, plus the Mining Fraternity including conveyor belt drives. From this brief description of duties covering visits to many parts of the world, I must of necessity confine my report to certain applications and perhaps reference to a few of the many interesting people met during my assignments.

Caribbean tour involving New York, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, brought me into contact with various Legations and Embassies. Apparently it was necessary to report my whereabouts, but in actual fact, a spot of snooping around on their behalf, the outcome of which proved of mutual advantage. Oilfields and Refineries occupied much of my time, with a wide variety of pumps, compressors and belt-drives problems to resolve, all of course with the motive of not only specifying T. & N. products, but proving there satisfaction on tests. In contrast the assignment in Barbados, Trinidad, Curaco and Aruba proved easier, owing to the B.P. and Shell ownership of the refinery and oil-field installations and more favourable attitude to British products.

During the mid-50’s, a three month visit was made to North and Southern Rhodesia, South Africa, Swaziland and the Belgian Congo. The Assignment, Asbestos, Copper and Gold Mines and conveyor belt installations, plus, various pump units. Underground installations are of course difficult operating conditions, inefficient servicing contributed in some measure, which gave me scope and resulted in orders for belt replacements.

Singapore, Australia and New Zealand oil refinery installations was the next assignment.

The new installation in Perth, Australia, presented an opportunity to introduce British products. During my visit to Adelaide devious ways and means were created to pass to and from the office, owned aud occupied by Mr. Don Bradman, but all in vain! I did however visit the cricket ground and knocked up an imaginery century!!

I was now approaching retirement age, 62, a prospect viewed with dismay, but to my surprise and pleasure an engineer contact from Abadan offered me a position with the Iranian Oil Services, which lasted until the late 1970’s. Assignments to Abadan and Teheran followed, with frequent visits to The Hague, largely covering British Standards for Oil Fields, and Refinery Units. Inevitable retirement came with the end of the Shah’s regime in Persia and its effect on the Iranian Oil Industry.

It is reasonable to assume over a period of twenty years with assignments in many parts of the world, contact had been made with people well known to the public, herewith a selection which may be of interest:-

Mr. Solomon – Russian pianist – New York, Alan Jones of the “Donkey Serenade Song” -Auckland, New Zealand, Dolores del Rio, film star – Tampico, Mexico, Leary Constantine – Port of Spain, Trinidad, “Cat’s Eye” Cunningham, De Haviland, Cairo, to name a few, but a meeting with Mr. Leopold Stowoski, the famous conductor in New York and London perhaps warrants a special reference.

The place, New York, large cinema with acoustic problems, solution of which was under consideration by my employers Agent, Mr. Stowoski had been invited to attend with the hope of discussing prospects of using the material e.g. Sprayed Limpet Asbestos in several concert halls. During the meeting, Mr. L. Stowoski indicated his proposed visit to London and in particular the Royal Albert Hall, the outcome of which I was invited to attend.

It is, or was well known, the Royal Albert Hall was identified with a “whistle” or “echo” of such a degree, Mr. Stowoski refused all invitations to conduct. The meeting in London proved most interesting, but of no financial benefit to Turner & Newall Ltd. The “cure” was achieved by installing Glass Reinforced Panels in the ceiling, which no doubt some of the members have noted during attendances at the Royal Albert Hall.

Mr. E. L. Jones, Past President, in proposing a vote of thanks, referred to the pleasant relationship during his year of office when Mr. Garlick was Secretary and wished him a successful year of office.