Fred Risk talks about his work for a company making life-saving equipment

Resource Type: Audio | Posted on 13th March 2012 by Liam Physick

Fred Risk mentions how, like his mother, he worked at Meccano for 23 years: after it closed, he got a job in Birkenhead for a company which made life-saving equipment. Among the equipment he designed were life rafts for the RAF, the Royal Navy and civilian shipping, fire clothing for the RAF and merchant ships, and submarine escape suits for the Navy. In this job, Fred went to all sorts of places, and stayed in the job until the age of 75

Interviewee: Fred Risk

Interviewee Gender: Male

Date of Interview: 16th February 2012

Interview Transcript

Jenny: Did you never get a career in the railway, or . . . ?

Fred: I’ve always been interested in trains and, all, all boys were, you know, I mean I worked in Meccano for 23 years, designing toys . . .

Jenny: Oh!

Fred: . . . that sort of thing, til it all went down the tube! (laughs) And I changed occupation then.

Jenny: What did you do then?

Fred: I went over to, to Birkenhead to work for a company that made life-saving equipment . . .

Jenny: Oh, right!

Fred: . . . so I designed life sack, life rafts for various types of . . . we used to build life rafts for the, the RAF and for the Navy and also for civilian shipping, and they used to design, they, they made, and they still do, they made fire clothing for the RAF and the merchant ships, for the Navy they made submarine escape suits for the Navy, it’s for, if the submarine gets sunk, they can put this suit on, and they, they connect it, life jacket, to an air supply, and it inflates the life jacket but it, it’s under that much pressure, there isn’t, it’s not very big, and you go into the escape capsule, well you do that while you’re in the escape capsule, and then they, they flood the capsule, and then they exit, come up to the surface, and as they come up to the surface, the life jacket expands because the pressure’s reducing, and the air goes into the breathing area, so as they, they, they don’t have to hold their breath that much . . .

Jenny: Oh, yeah.

Fred: . . . and the air is all (indecipherable), and they finally get to the surface, they have a single-seater dinghy attached to the suit, which they inflate and climb into.

Jenny: (sounds amazed) Valuable job! (laughs)

Fred: Yeah. So, they, they do, they, it’s quite a, quite an interesting job, that was . . .

Jenny: Yeah.

Fred: . . . cos I went all over, all over the place, into Woolton, Norway, Denmark, Canada, all of the company business, you know, and that was quite nice, that was, and I worked there til I was 75, so . . .

Jenny: Oh! (she and Fred laugh)

Fred: Long enough!

Jenny: Yeah!

Tagged under: woolton, meccano, submarines, royal navy, merchant ships, royal air force

Categorised under: Work & Industry

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