Wednesday, 23 April 2008

The Certified Institute of Carpenters, now IOC

Back in the year 1466 a Grant of Arms was passed to what became The Carpenter's Company,this would have been the forerunner of the Certified Carpenters Guild I became a member of in 1968? the Carpenter's Company sheild is displayed at the top of this blog page.

For me and way back, when most working class guys,reckoned they were really given a break to be offered an apprenticship in one of the main trades, (1963) I was one of the lucky ones,having writen to five different companies in Liverpool,I was invited to an interview at a company called Tysons, situated at 5 Dryden Street,within walking distance of the city center.The interview must have gone ok as a letter from Mr Peter Tyson was duly recieved inviting me to start a trial period as a Joiner,which is another name for Carpenter on a general scale,my work was mainly in the Joinery shop making windows and doors,plus what ever contracts came in,being the largest joinery shop in our area,we never lacked for interesting work.

As a part of my five year apprentice contract,I had to agree to keep trade secrets and also go to college for at least three years,we did what was known as a Day Release,which means,we had to go to college one day a week during the period the college was doing its training terms.It was this extra training that really raised the bar in an apprentices period of training,we were given such a broad spectrum of issues to discuss and learn,that we went far past what was needed for our daily tasks in the joinery shop.

The years end always brought its annual exam,normally a thing to fear as far as I was concerned,I scraped through year one with a pass mark,that set me on the way as far as I was concerned, as passing exams was never one of my stronger points.Year one went on to year four,by which time I was now sitting a final exam,this was to gain a pass mark to what was called 'The London City of Guilds ' examination in Carpentry and Joinery,I passed with distinction,certainally prooving that post school education by lecturers who really care about their learners passing,not guys just going through the motion of turning up and doing the hours but learning little.One lecturer even declared on the first evenings of maths and related building studies,that if a person is not really interested in the course,please do him the favour of not turning up the following week,It worked,we all arrived the following week and I think we all passed too.

This was my final year as far as the education side was concerned,we still had a year to go in the apprentice scheme,except they then brought out a four year exit for those who wanted to become full time qualifieds,this was not so attractive to some,many never took the option expecting to be sacked as soon as they took the offer up? I took the offer and was kept on but at the full joiners rate of pay,17 pounds 10 shillings a week!

In that final year, 1968,some of us were asked to sit an outside exam which was hosted by what was then called 'The Institute of Certified Carpenters' I was one of twelve invited in the North West of England,also in my group was a good friend David Hassel ,we both managed a pass mark and then had the right to take up membership of the institute,this I did and duly paid my annual certificate of membership,paid to Carpenters Hall, 1 Throgmorton Avenue,EC2,which is in London. I was issued with a receipt number 1/40640 for the sum of 2 pounds 10 pence.Dated 3,3,1970.( my father actually paid this after my departure)

I then forgot all about it,emigrating to Cape Town,South Africa,late 1968 but my dad was wise enough to pay my subs for a while.Then in 2006 ,some 38 years after I had passed the entry exam,I was curious to see if the institute still existed,Google soon found the threads for me and I was soon having my membership renewed once more,excepting it is now called a more simple 'Institute of Carpenters',or IOC for short,the basis of the foundation of the institute goes back over 700 years and was given a Royal Charter to exist.

So here I am still a member,nearly forty years now,said to be the only IOC member in Africa and proud to post the institutes logos on my web site,I do hope that trade apprenticships become popular once more,its a fine thing to have and you will never lack for work,I rarely have anyway. Roy