Michelin Memories: Apprentices who represented Great Britain

Michelin Memories is an opportunity for our ex-employee volunteers to share some of their stories with you. In this series we’ll feature recollections from the team alongside images of the documents that sparked these memories off. We’d also be interested to hear about personal memories from our readers – get in touch and we’ll include them here. We’re looking forward to uncovering these stories hidden within the Archive on a regular basis – enjoy!

Michelin apprentices who represented Great Britain internationally

Memory contributed by Les Woolley

Early in 1961 competitions were held, by the City of Guilds examination board, to select apprentices to represent Great Britain in the International Apprentice Competition. Having been selected from the Michelin apprentice group, test pieces were submitted to find out who were the best in Staffordshire. If successful, a national selection was the next stage. Clive Barker, Les Woolley and Michael Mothershaw were chosen to represent Great Britain, Clive (senior apprentice) and Les (junior apprentice) in gas welding and Mike (senior apprentice) house wiring.

All three were invited with the rest of the British team to the inaugural meeting of Commonwealth Training Week at the Guild Hall, London where the Duke of Edinburgh made the opening address. All three then attended the Commonwealth Service in St Paul’s Cathedral. The welders Clive and Les undertook a three week training course at the British Oxygen Company training centre in Cricklewood, London. The International Competition was held in Duisburg West Germany between June 30th and July 16th and consisted of one week of competition and one week of culture and site seeing visits in Germany.

The competition was tough and although all three Michelin representatives gave great performances, they were unfortunately unplaced. Of the 191 apprentices from eleven countries taking part, Germany won the team prize with 16 first placings.

In 1964 Alec Edwards who was a technician apprentice represented the United Kingdom in machine drawing at the International Apprentices Competition held in Lisbon Portugal. Leading apprentices from ten other European countries and Japan competed. The competitions were held during the first week during the second week tours were organised sightseeing and cultural.

The U.K team were overall winners of the competition. With Alec gaining a very creditable 4th place.

September 1960 four Michelin Apprentices flew out to Barcelona Spain to represent the United Kingdom team (32 strong team) at the international Apprentice Competition. Clive Barker (junior gas welding) Geoff Bladen (junior design draughtsman) Stuart Maydew (junior house wiring) Mike Davies (senior house wiring). With three thirds and one fifth they did very well.

From 1955 to 1965 a total of 12 Michelin apprentices represented Great Britain in International Apprentice Competitions in various Countries such as Spain, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Eire and Portugal. The list reads: 1959 Alan Hollinshead (Oxyacetylene Welding) 1960 Stuart Maydew (Senior House Wiring) Michael Davies (Junior House Wiring) Clive Barker (Junior Oxyacetylene Welding) 1961 Michael Mothershaw (Senior House Wiring) Clive Barker (Senior Oxyacetylene Welding) Leslie Woolley (Junior Oxyacetylene Welding) 1962 Alan Durber (M/C Drawing) 1963 Geoffrey Preston (House Wiring) 1964 Alec Edwards (M/C Drawing) 1965 Geoffrey Frost (Industrial Wiring).

Another notable achievement in 1964 was the selection of Alan Dean to represent Britain in the 1964 Olympic games held in Tokyo, Japan. Alan was an engineer working in YMMS and was an apprentice from 1957 until qualifying as a fitter. For Alan his 800 metre time of 1.48.7 which was within the Olympic qualifying time when running for England against Poland a race seen by millions of viewers on B.B.C television must have been a great feeling.