Longbridge Time Keeper

He Keeps Longbridge In Time With The Outside World.

Mr. Fred Monstevens
Mr F Monstevens

If you want to know the time ask Mr.'Fred' Monstevens. At Longbridge anyway because it is his job to keep Longbridge on time. Automation has only partly invaded his world since the day 33 years ago when he took the job of maintaining the 50 to 60 'clocking-in' clocks-officially time recorders-in the 62-acre factory employing about 8,000 workers.

Now the number of time recorders is more than 22O, just over one to every acre of factory, and it takes two men four days every week, walking between ten and twelve miles, going from clock to clock to wind and clean them.

Completely overhauling the clocks is like the operation of painting the Forth Bridge, when the last one has been done it's time to start at the beginning again. Each one is overhauled once every three years, which is the time it takes another two men to do the complete round.

Practically all the other clocks at Longbridge are electric. There are at least two in most offices and in the workshops there are as many as six. The total runs into hundreds but they are all controlled by six electric master clocks. These master clocks-two in the works police office, one in Mr. Monstevens's department in the South Press Tool Room, one in sales block, and one each in East and West Works-also control the steam hooter in North Works and the electric bells in the offices which automatically sound starting time and finishing times. Said Mr. Monstevens, 'They are all controlled by electric impulses from the master clocks.'

The master clocks are checked for accuracy first thing every working day by Mr. Monstevens against a stop watch which has been synchronized with TIM, the GPO.'s recorded time check. 'And that is about as accurate as you can get,' said Mr. Monstevens. 'Before TIM came along I used to use a watch which had been synchronized with the chimes of Big Ben on the BBC. news.'

The 'clocking-in' clocks are checked every day by the time keepers who telephone Mr Monstevens and they set the clocks they are responsible for against the master clock in his department.

Twice a year comes the ‘rush’ job of putting on or taking off an hour with the beginning and end of Summer Time. Three men take a whole Saturday morning adjusting the ‘clocking-in” the their master. Maintenance of the hundred of ordinary electric clocks is undertaken by the electricians’ department.

From being the only man, Mr. Monstevens now heads a ten-man department which is also responsible for the maintenance of all office machinery, including about 700 typewriters and scores of accounting machines. The men who carry out the work are all experts, mainly from firms manufacturing that type of equipment.

Time never stands still for the man who keeps time and his busy little department, for if it does it means another repair job to be fitted into the tight schedule of repair, maintenance and overhaul.

Mr. Monstevens, now &, has completed a total of 44 years at Longbridge, starting as a toolmaker after an apprenticeship with a bicycle manufacturing firm. And in the 33 years he has been doing the job, in which his clocks have ticked away some 8,004,800 minutes, so far as he knows Longbridge has never been more than a second or two out of step with the rest of the world.