I was at Coton House starting in Jan 1954 and they were the best years of my life.
Please add my name to the list.
Best regards,
Fred Brighton 1954 - 1959


Dear Slim,
Playing about with my laptop yesterday I discovered your website.

I was an apprentice at the BTH in Rugby from 1949 to 1954 and lived at Coton House for the first two or three years before going into digs in Rugby. My name at that time was Steve Bock.
Shortly after finishing my apprenticeship we had a family name change and i have been known as Steve Ramsay eversince.

I enjoyed some of the old pictures and recognised a number of people and was very sorry to see the picture of the fire at Coton House.

My reason for writing to you was I saw the name Alan Evans, number 82 on the up to date list. Alan and I were great friends and spent many weekends together at our respective homes
and I wondered if you had a postal or an email address so that we might get together and talk over old times before it is too late.

I see on your website that I must be on your list and I am very happy for you to add my name. I would also like a copy of your DVD so please let me know your address and who I should
make the cheque out to.

Yours Sincerely,

Steve Ramsay.


Having just visited the web site, I was at Coton House from 15/10/1956 to Sept 1957; also from July 58 to Sept 58 and again from July 1960 to Aug 1961. All this was as a Thick Sandwich (1-3-1) Course Apprentice, following which I joined Power Rectifier Engineers and stayed with them till the end of August 1969 when I joined Reyrolle Parsons in Newcastle upon Tyne. In June 1987 I "returned to the fold" by joining GEC Transportation Projects in Trafford Park and was with them until the office closed in 2000. Am now retired and living in South Manchester.
I recognise a number of names on the listing. I also, somewhere, have a photograph of our group in the Training Drawing Office in King Street in 1957.
We have another Old Cotonian on our IET Retired Members Committee here in Manchester - Steve Whiteley.
Hope this is of interest,



Ray Rodwell.




Dear Slim

I was very interested to see the email from Peter (Bill) Davies. I remember him well – we stood opposite each other in the Apprentice Dept (Apps) filing our rectangular lumps of steel during the first few days of our apprenticeship. Like Bill, (as I knew him) I also became a close  friend of Fred Sussenbach and I can confirm that he was tragically killed in a car crash around 1970 or thereabouts.  We both moved to Leicester in 1958/9 and we remained friendly until his death. Fred’s wife Pat still lives about a mile from me. Bill, Fred and I all had a strong interest in jazz and Fred and I played (badly in my case) in a jazz group consisting largely of “Cotonians”. One year we were the band for the rag nightclub at the Laurels apprentice association club. I am sure Bill will also remember Pete Hector who was one of our immediate circle.
Like Bill I also remember our favourite pubs in Rugby – The “Shoes”, The Bull and the “Playfair” ballroom on Saturday nights and the dances at The Laurels club.
Fred and I moved to Leicester with the Radar department which later became Marconi Radar Systems. I left them in 1981.
I still live on the outskirts of Leicester and if Bill is ever this way again I would be delighted to see him. Perhaps you could give him my email address or forward this email to him if that is possible – or he may see it on the website if you post it there. What a shame I didn’t realise he was in the UK in October 2010.

Dave Collinson


Came across your web site by accident.

My name is Peter Davies, better known in Rugby as Bill.
I was at Coton House from 1952 to about 1955 and in various digs until 1958, then left BTH (or AEI as it was by then) to go to Canada. I was a friend of Fred Sussenbach who I understand from your site may now be deceased. Was very much involved with the RAG revue. Was surprised to meet some old Rugby people in Montreal: Cathy (not too)  Bright (now Williams) who was Carnival Queen (or whatever we called it back then) in about 1954. I recently revisited Rugby, for only the third time in fifty years, as my grandson, living in Jersey, is involved in Optimist dingy racing, and was competing at Rutland Water. I was amazed to see this lake, which of course, did not exist in my day. I would be interested in meeting anyone still living in the area who remembers me, (but not too much!) I will be visiting the area in October 2011 for the Rutland Water sailing. Most of my memories of the time are around the pubs! The Bull, The Shoes, and the dance hall above Burtons and the unforgettable apprentice supervisor CRADDOCK who fired all of us (for a day or so) who took a little time off to go to the Coronation (53 or 54?)

Peter (Bill) Davies 1952


Well----- what a great find on the 'net'  Coton house in all it's gory------err Glory. What happy days are brought to mind by the names   __  Pete Nightingale  Fred Mullen  the Pollard Bros Ken Kortegas  Pluckrose Bros  Works visits   dances at Candle college (sorry  Canley college)  wind swept cycle rides anywhere   sobering walks from the Greyhound or even worse the Pheasant. Does anyone know the whereabouts of Gwyn Sugg or Dave Herd?  Ah-------So many memories it would take hours to write them all down if I could remember them!!!  Its me age you know  Regards G.H.C (Taffy) Gerald Crocombe (1951-6) Taffy


Hello John

Thanks for your message.  Apologies that it has taken so long to acknowledge.  Since I decided to retire there never seems to be enough time.  I note that  my address is listed as unknown.  In fact, I am resident in Geneva, Switzerland.  There are many people whom I would like to contact.  Three in particular are Roger Balcombe, originally from Coulsdon or Purley, Alan D. Murphy, from Greenford, and Neil Duncan from Delph, near Manchester.  All three started in Rugby in September 1956.   I would be ver grateful for any information that you may have on them.

Best regards

Mike (Michael P Brown)


Hi !
I found your website by accident, and enjoyed the nostalgia. As a BTH apprentice I was billeted at Coton House in 1952-53 before moving to digs in town. Following my term with BTH I was called up for NS after which I did a stint in the Merchant navy. and eventually emigrated to BC Canada in 1967. My main out of work activities in Rugby were long distance cycling and I was also a member of the Rugby town band. I have often wondered what became of my old room mates and other pals. Following the usual stint in the apprentice school and various departments in the plant. I found myself seconded to building 122 ( I think it was ) which was run by the Royal Navy and was concerned with research into radar amongst other things, I spent the last three years of my time there before being called up for NS.
I was dismayed to learn of the recent fire at the house and would appreciate any further info on this subject.
Sincerely Don Matthews ( now retired from the workforce. )



I was at Coton House from !954 to 1957/8 Friends of mine at the time were Reg David who lives at West Haddon and Fred Sussenbach who I believe is deceased I still have old reports and a photograph of the BTH Rugby Team which I was a member of. These may be of interest if so let me know and I will forward copies. I don't know if I am the John Simmonds on Pete Slaters list People often spelt my name incorrectly so I may well be
John Simmons



Trawling through the Internet, I came across the Coton House site.  Don't know why I looked for this - part of an effort to trace the past.    I was a BTH student apprentice from September 1956, but never lived at Coton House.   The reason was that when I arrived Coton House was full, so together with several other new apprentices we were placed in digs in town.  A year later we moved to Tower House in Hillmorton, a private hostel that had about 40 BTH/AEI apprentices.  Then, in 1959 along with many other people I moved to Leicester, working at both Blackbird Road and New Parks, both of which are now of course gone.  I am still in touch with a few people who were students with me, but would really like to know what has happened to many others. 

For the record, after finishing my apprenticeship in 1961, I continued to work for AEI as a field engineer, initially in the UK and then in Switzerland.  I left at the end of 1968, by which time I was officially employed by Marconi Radar Systems. 

None of the above falls within the scope of Coton House.  However, many people did move from Coton House to Tower House and also later to Leicester.   Jock Currie, who is pictured on the website, was one who moved to Tower House.

Hoping to hear from you.

Best regards

Michael Brown


     I decided to get more insulation laid in my attic and finished up on your website! When clearing the attic I came across some BTH/AEI/Coton House paperwork and that prompted me to make some checks on the internet.
I was a Thick Sandwich apprentice living at Coton House from September 1959 to July 1960, and then from November 1963 to August 1964. 
Congratulations on setting up the website, the photos brought back some happy memories.
              Roger Bushel


I stumbled across your website; you are obviously doing sterling work !
I, Alan Roome was at Coton House from summer 1961 to summer 1964 when I moved to AEI-GRS in Long Acre London to complete my apprenticeship.
It was a special course with ONC being completed on block release in one year, and the remaining 2 years on day release for the HNC course.
I remained with AEI-GRS until 1968, moving to Trinity House, Schweppes, the Milk Marketing Board, and latterly Air Products.
Last year, at 67 I set up my own company to continue providing electrical services to Air Products.
I am widowed with 2 sons and a daughter, and live in Surrey.
Colin Briggs moved to AEI-GRS shortly before me, and we have been close friends ever since.
Colin retired at 65 from Alstom Signalling, having spent his entire career in Railway Signalling.
Colin Hatton and Gary Baxter were friends back in Coton House days, but we have lost contact. 
The marked up photo of the Christmas Lunch may help to identify the characters.
kind regards
Alan Roome


I was an AE I / RCET student apprentice and “did time” at Coton between Sept 1961 and Dec 1962.

I have a couple of comments to add to those about the food on your news page:

  1. I can believe the 58/59 egg story (although the “new’’ dining hall was already open in my time), but have no recollection of the 62/63 ”horsemeat pie”
  2. What did upset the management was that, at breakfast, we used to make marmalade sandwiches in great quantity and smuggle them out for our lunch at the works or at the tech. (Our wages at that that time were about six pounds ten a week, Coton took three pounds seven and six or so!)  Eventually they cottoned (Cotoned?) on to what was going on and put a stop to it. 
  3. A lunch time treat was pie and chips floating (extra gravy), at the little pie shop near the Dirty Duck (White Swan) in town, at half a crown.

 Once we moved into college in Hillmorton Rd, the food improved no end!

 We are having another reunion at Coton House in September, hopefully one of us will manage to send in some pics for the web site,

 Best regards to all fellow Cotonians

 Malcolm Skipp