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.
Fred Brighton 1954 - 1959
Playing about with my laptop
yesterday I discovered your
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
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
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.
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.
another Old Cotonian on our
IET Retired Members
Committee here in Manchester
- Steve Whiteley.
Hope this is
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
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
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.
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
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.
Mike (Michael P Brown)
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
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.
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
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
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:
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”
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.
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