Sunday, 8 January 2012

Embracing the Griffin

In the early 1960s, London was suffering from an acute staff shortage for many service industries. Hospitals, refuse collection, buses and railways were amongst those worst hit. People didn't want to do shift work, nor anything that seemed less socially appealing than office work, like labouring in public service and, worse, in uniform.  To try to overcome the resulting shortages, London Transport, the operating organisation for the unified bus and underground transport system that we had in the capital then, was recruiting staff from overseas, mostly from Commonwealth countries, whose residents had British passports and therefore right of entry to the UK.

Fortunately for me, being rather desperate for work, they were taking local people too. They advertised on buses and trains for bus conductors and drivers, Underground station staff, guards and cleaners. I thought I would go for the guard's job, on the basis that it seemed to be a least worst option and there would be some variety. I never considered working on the buses. It just didn't appeal to me.

In those days, you could go to the recruiting office at Edgware Road (Griffith House) unannounced and fill in a form. There was also a test sheet with a few simple questions to answer. You then had a medical (cough) and, provided you had a pulse and your chest didn't rattle, they would take you on. There was an interview but I was only asked one question - did I know it was a responsible job. I answered yes and was told, subject to satisfactory references, I would get an acceptance letter.

The letter duly arrived a couple of weeks later and I was told to turn up at Chiswick Works in a week's time to collect my uniform. And the Griffin? It was used as a logo on London Transport uniforms and for certain products produced in-house, like "Griffin tea", specially packaged for staff use. The emblem is said to have been used by the City of London and was adopted by LT to show its affinity with the city. I was about begin showing a similar affinity.

No comments:

Post a Comment