“My Time with the Blowers”
Alex Ramsay left Edinbarnet Junior Secondary School at the end of 1968 and his father, who was Chief Draughtsman with Clyde Blowers at the time, arranged an interview for him with Mr. Harold Macintosh, their Head of Engineering. After his successful interview he started as a “Print Boy” in the drawing office on Monday January 6th, 1969.
Alex decided to make the most of his new job and took on an apprenticeship, beginning October 1969, as he turned 16. This consisted of six months in the inspection department, one year in the fitting shop, one year working on the milling machines, one year working on the heavy lathe and six months training in various other roles – broach, drilling, turning machines and stores.
Subsequently, Alex spent a further six months in the drawing office, which was normal practice for apprentices at the time. At the end of which, after a written exam, Alex was given the option of staying in the drawing office, or taking a position on the shop floor. He opted to take the position of Junior Draughtsman for four and a half years, and on reaching twenty-five became a fully-fledged Draughtsman.
Alex remained in this role until the introduction of the ‘Computer Age’, with AutoCAD (at the time training was a three day course at a Technology centre in Sidcup, Kent), and the business System 25 being implemented within the company around the early nineties, which also coincided with new ownership for the company (Jim McColl).
As the company developed and expanded, the title of Draughtsman had become obsolete, and other duties out with drawing creation were added to Alex’s skill set (e.g. detail sheets, instruction manuals and dealing with customers). The title of Project Engineer was born – a title he holds proudly to this day.
After the company’s relocation to Bridgeton, the subsequent fire and then the brand new offices, Clyde Blowers expanded and bought Forest Engineering from Belgium (1993) and Bergemann of Wesel (1996), hence the renaming Clyde Bergemann. With the takeover of Bergemann, also came the introduction of a new product line, as had happened with Forest. This led to an entourage from Wesel arriving in Glasgow, including Michael Balkenborg and Ute Augustine who spent a week in the Glasgow office. With them came masses of information on their sootblower designs, and Alex was the lucky recipient selected to digest all this exciting encyclopaedia of knowledge. Alex played a key role in this visit and the companies integrating their knowledge and experiences.
As it turned out Alex became good friends with Michael, and continued to be in contact on a social level, one of the many friends Alex has made in his 50 years with the company.
Fast forward to 2019, and Alex is celebrating 50 years’ service, a great achievement; he is still an invaluable member of the Clyde Bergemann Scotland team today; a fountain of knowledge and a great colleague and friend to many.
Well done and thank you!