Memories of ICI
By Pat Thomas
I joined ICI in September 1964 straight from WGC Grammar School. I was thrilled to follow my sister’s footsteps and was given a place in ICI Plastics Division Secretarial Training School which was situated alongside the Technical Services Building. I remember having to pass an entrance ‘exam’ which allowed me to do Pitmans shorthand as well. I can remember having lessons in the morning and then being assigned to other departments in the afternoon and I was sent to the Photographic and Printing Section. I recall our typing teacher being very strict and we were not allowed to look at the keys as we typed. We typed to a metronome and used old fashioned typewriters where you had to change the ribbon spools. I still have the love of typing and am still office based and use the keyboard every day, as well as using my Pitmans shorthand. After completing the secretarial training most girls were placed in a typing pool and I can remember being there for just a couple of weeks before I was given a post within the Engineering Department. Whilst I was in the typing pool I can remember typing up the menus for the Director’s dining room and the staff canteen. My sister had been working in Fluon Technical Services and when she took another post in another department I was fortunate enough to get the job that she had vacated and I worked in Fluon Tech Services until 1972 when my husband and I moved from Welwyn Garden City and I transferred to the Manchester Sales Office. My days at ICI were the happiest of my life and I remember my work colleagues with great affection. When I left Welwyn I kept in touch with my head of department after his retirement and did meet up with him and his wife many years later. Technical Services was a long building and the offices were on one floor with the labs on the floor below. I don’t know how many miles we used to walk around the building and around the whole site. Every day the tea trolley was a highlight with the tea lady coming round in the morning with freshly made rolls and in the afternoon the trolley was laden with cakes. We so looked forward to the tea trolley. I also remember an ICI house being on the site and I used to act as a photographic model and have photos of me hanging out washing on a washing line and another unloading shopping within the ICI house kitchen. For several summers I also remember being seconded to work for a couple of the ICI Directors when their secretaries were on annual leave. This was regarded as a great honour. I met my husband at ICI. He was working in Research Department and attending Hatfield Technical College. He used to play rugby for ICI and we have several newspaper cuttings of the ICI team in action. In those days if you worked overtime, on top of being paid for the hours that you worked you also got food provided. I also remember an explosion occurring on site probably in the 1960’s. Sadly, a man who lived a few doors away from us was killed and I remember he had young children. I often think of those who I worked with at ICI – so many names, and so many faces – they were such happy days and I can still remember all the different plastic smells as you walked along the Tech Service corridor.