John Holmes - Met Office 1957

 

I first saw Worksop on 7 January 1957 as a brand new Scientific Assistant entering the Met Office. I was allocated to the Sergeants Mess as that was the grade the RAF gave that job. The eating/recreational part was in a collection of Nissan huts with the accommodation/wash places about 200 yards down the road. The accommodation was spartan about sums it up with one coke burning stove in the room which 3 of us shared. Another Met Assistant and Harry the Barrack Warden. So at least we got our bedding changed regularly and, when one of us was around, enough coke to get a bit of heat into the corrugated Nissan hut. The wash basins, toilets and baths/showers were in another hut about 20 yards away.

The Met office was on the ground floor of the control tower. I had never used a telephone before so had to quickly get used to 2 'normal' types and the ATC 'squawk box' on the bench in front of the forecaster and observer. The toilet was an Elsan and this bloke used to come in his waggon and empty it sometime each week. On one occasion Prince Philip flew in by helicopter to go to a military College nearby (Welbeck I think?) and we were not allowed to use the brand new Elson with shiny metal lid until he had gone!

I remember playing cricket for the Sergeants Mess in the evening and listening to RAF Finningley Vulcan's as they warmed up and took off for night flying. The accident in the Peak I remember well, a misty thundery day and much chewing of forecaster nails about it. Also the Meteor which flew into the runway. They reassembled it, hundreds of tiny bits in a hangar before it was taken away to the Aircraft Establishment place at Farnborough for a more thorough examination.. I also remember, after the airfield had been meticulously searched for any aircraft bits and the pilot a fireman discovering part of a thumb not far from our office-very gruesome.

In spite of the crummy living conditions even compared to some during my National Service days I quite enjoyed it there. Living as a 17 year old in a Sergeants Mess was an eye opener especially on the alcohol side as I had very little experience until then! One soon learnt it has to be said. But I was happy enough playing cricket and table tennis and being reasonable at both was generally accepted by the folk in there.
 
We used to go to the pub off the station, can't remember its name, it was on a corner of the road, White Bass with a pickled egg was one of my favourites.
 
I can remember quite clearly the other staff as well and had contact with a couple of them until only a few years ago. Best I do not mention names though as they may not wish to have their names in print. I met one of the forecasters again, he was Polish, when I went to Manchester Airport some 7 or 8 years later.

John Holmes

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Royal Helicopters of the period:
 Reg         Type  In Q/F Service  Notes
 XF261  Westland WS-51 Dragonfly HC.4 1954-58   On loan from the Central Flying School, South Cerney 1954-58 construction number: WA/H/107. First flew on 24th March 1954, delivered to RAF 2nd April 1954 scrapped on 11th September 1963 at 15MU Wroughton
 XL111 Whirlwind HAR.4  1955  New to Royal Navy, loaned in 1955. Used as SAR helicopter from 1964 after conversion to HAR.10 in aden. Crashed 1st April 1967 in Khormaksar. Later went to Helicopter training school Halton as 8000M. Scrapped 1980
 XJ432  Whirlwind HC.2  1956-67  Loaned from RAF.  Painted in Royal Blue/Aluminium. First flew on 11th February 1955 and delivered on 25th May 1955, written off on18th  January 1971
 XN126  Whirlwind HCC.8  1959  construction number:WA266 Built 2nd May 1959, delivered 13th August1959 Later converted to  Whirlwind HAR.10  with Bristol Siddeley Gnome H1000 8655M then scrapped at Pinewood Studios?
 XN127  Whirlwind HCC.8  1959  construction number: WA267  first flew 7th August 1959, delivered 5th November 1959,   Later converted to  Whirlwind HAR.10  with Bristol Siddeley Gnome H1000 video of 1959 handover ceremony - great details! RAF Report on 1980 crash of XN127 -  written off