Fostering a chance to reminisce

Former staff of Foster Wheelers Power Products gather for a reunion at The Clarendon pub.
Former staff of Foster Wheelers Power Products gather for a reunion at The Clarendon pub.

IT was a case of “all lads together again” when former engineering colleagues met for their sixth annual reunion.

About 30 former staff from the now-defunct Foster Wheeler Power Products factory had a get-together at The Clarendon pub, in Tower Street, Hartlepool.

Good conversation and drinks were flowing during the enjoyable night, which took place on Friday.

Many recognisable faces met once again to reminisce about their time at the Brenda Road-based firm, which opened in the mid-60s and closed in 1990.

Among them was Denis Bowman, who worked at the plant, which made generators for submarines and boilers, from 1967 until it closed.

The father-of-four, who went into security after the company closed, said: “The atmosphere at Foster Wheelers was great, and it was great to relive that on the night.

“Unfortunately, we expected about 50 people, but I think the loss of bus services might have played a part.

“And we also have a few absent friends who sadly aren’t with us any more.”

Denis, 77, from Throston, said Cliffy Lax, Dave Foreman, Morty Wilson, Joe White and Ted Hill were just some of the former colleagues who had passed away.

Denis and ex-colleague John Dennis, 67, a former tube bender at the plant, paid tribute to reunion organiser Ian Campbell.

Ian, 62, who is in remission having been diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2009, could not make the event as he was in hospital having follow-up surgery to make sure the cancer has completely gone.

A “get well soon” card was signed by all of the ex-workers who attended.

John, a father-of-two and grandfather-of-four from the Fens, who became a postman after working for Foster Wheelers for 23 years, posed for a photograph with Dennis and the card.

He said: “We are going to keep the reunion going each year and make sure we make the effort to come.

“We wish Ian could have been here and hope he gets well soon.”

The oldest person at the reunion was thought to have been 81-year-old Eddie Johnson, from Hart Station, who was the company’s quality manager and was with the firm for 23 years.

It was his first time attending the reunions and he said: “It’s been very good indeed, emotional in fact. “Foster Wheelers was the best place I ever worked.”

Eddie attended the reunion with his son Stephen, 52, who started out as a mechanical engineering apprentice with the business in 1974 and is now director of an oil and gas company in war-torn Libya.

Stephen, from the Bishop Cuthbert area, said: “It’s been excellent.

“I’ve seen a lot of people, including Ged Henderson and Paul Thubron, who also served their apprenticeships there.”

Other former staff who attended included Alan Maiden, John McQue, Ronnie Readman, Rob Hodgson, George Cooper and Eric Arnell.