Brunel College, Bristol

Brunell Technical College Ashdown Road Bristol - 1976
Brunel Technical College Ashdown Road Bristol – 1976

After my first voyage with Bibby line, and due to illness, I was temporarily made medically redundant. After applying to Brunel Technical College Bristol, and accepted, I then had to find further funding, this was forthcoming in another local grant from the council. I started in late June 1976, at the beginning of the heatwave of that year. As the course was basically of one year duration crammed into 6 months there was a lot of studying to be done. During the months of July and August there being no let up from
the heat, and at the time swarms of ladybirds in our vicinity.

The course above mine consisted of mainly Shell R/O’s plus a freelance Irishman, a great
bunch of lads who showed me all the usual haunts of sea going personnel in the center of Bristol. I stayed in digs run by a Liverpudlian landlady, which was very homely, even down to many ladies of the night staying with the other students.

It was during my time there that I was informed that due to not having completed a years sea time I would not be able to obtain the final qualification, which should have been pointed out to me prior to starting the course. However, it kept my hand in with the equipment I would be servicing and repairing when I eventually resumed my sea going career with the Bibby Line.

The course and the lecturers were first rate, and it gave me a solid background to working on engine room electronic systems such as the bridge Control Units, and especially boiler control electronics.The Radio Room and Bridge electronics available at Brunel were very up to date, we even had access to one of the first ARPA radars available, and  exposure to the first computer electronics teaching aids. (ARPA – Automatic Radar Plotting Aid).

The actual complex was also utilised by young ladies who wished to commence their work career as hairdressers. They were always looking for recruits to be guinea pigs so a relatively cheap haircut was always available during term time. Although after the final examinations I was not awarded the diploma due to lack of sea time. I really enjoyed my six months at Brunel college. Six years later I was to attend Riversdale College in Liverpool to undergo the same course at Bibby Line’s expense and this time gained the qualification.

Geoff Valentine

One Reply to “Brunel College, Bristol”

  1. Was at Brunel Tech from 1976-1979. Excellent lecturers all round, including the legendary Lofty Allen, who took us for morse code training and commercial working. Passed the MRGC and DoT Radar but unfortunately R/O jobs at sea were few and far between. Joined the BBC as a radio technician at the Monitoring Service near Caversham before joining Portishead Radio/GKA as an R/O in 1980.

    Nothing but good memories from Brunel – throwing snowballs at the lecturers from the gantry where the radar scanners and aerials were located in the winter – playing cricket on the grassy area behind Muller House in the summer. The student union bar over the road where we would take on liquid refreshment before the afternoons lectures on aerial theory (and only just keeping awake). Phil Brouder and his tales of being an R/O at sea – learning new swear words from Cliff Smith whilst almost setting a Radiolocator 2 on fire – Norman Rush and his accurate board rubber throwing – amongst many others.

    Happy days indeed.

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