INTERVIEW WITH JOHN WATSON BY PHONE FROM LEURA
19TH AUGUST 2006
Doug - I believe you came from Perth?
John - Yes - originally it was from NSW - but yes - more recently
came from Perth with my good wife.
Doug - Did you do your own training as a PMG Technician in Perth?
John - No, it was all done by private study and by passing internal
Doug - You did work in the ABC Studios as a PMG Technician?
John - Yes in the broadcasting studios in St. Georges Terrace.
Doug - How was it that you came to make the move to Sydney?
John - I moved on from Broadcast Technician into the PMG Training
School in Lord Street North Perth. I made this move into training and
it just developed from there.
Doug - I believe you came across to Sydney in 1957?
John - Yes.
Doug - Can you remember how you were recruited for the ABC position?
John - Yes. I'd just finished a Course in Sydney, a Rehab Course
qualifying me for the First Class Commercial Certificate. They advertised
the vacancy - Supervising
Technician Training Grade B was it?
Doug - You mentioned Rehab?
John - Rehabilitation after the war.. I was discharged from the
Airforce in 1945. When I enlisted in the Airforce, at that time they were
opening up north-west radar stations to keep an eye on what was coming
in from overseas. The Rehab Course was at the Marconi School in Sydney.
I got my discharge in Perth. - I'm skipping bits here - and then
came over to Sydney for a Course with Marconi. I then went back
to Perth when I finished the Course and I sorted things out - it needed
to be either the Department of Civil Aviation, or the PMG. I applied for
both places, had the option of either and went for the PMG.
Doug - When you came across to the ABC - that was to the newly-formed
Technical Services Division. Who interviewed you?
John - It was Ken Middleton and I think Dave Hirst. I came over
for the interview at the Cottage. I'd been doing a bit of TV training
in Perth. They had good Courses running there prior to coming over and
I'd done 2 or 3 years of that Course over there. The Marconi School was
the base qualification then several examinations within PMG for Senior
technician in Radio, Senior Tech. In Telephones, and Senior Tech. In Research,
then I did the Course with the Perth Tech. College with George Hatton.
He was a good guy with experience overseas. I think that was the first
time that I met Warwick Davies. He was in DCA at the time.
Doug - When you came to Sydney you were put in charge of the new
Training function at Gore Hill. And presumably you had to pull together
the requirements for the first intake?
John - It had started when I got over there. I arrived in November
1957; there were 2 or 3 or 4 recruits for the first Course to start off
the following year.
Doug - So the Courses hadn't started but the people like Arthur
Gray were arriving?
John - I don't think Arthur was one of the first in and I can't
recall who it was. Ken Middleton and Dave Hirst had been looking at the
requirements and I'm not sure what advertising they'd put into effect.
There were already 3 or 4 slotted in for the Course that was going to
commence the following year.
Doug - Did the first intake trainees share their time between the
PMG Training School and the Sydney or North Sydney Techs?
John - They spent time at Sydney Tech. Training was not carried
by the PMG.
Doug - North Sydney Tech. didn't come into the picture until later?
John - No they came in from the first year. The PMG School
wasn't involved in the project at all. That suited my inclinations at
that time. I wanted to paddle the canoe myself, I didn't want to pass
it over to someone else.
Doug - Were you working alone at the outset?
John - I was part of the staff in Gore Hill in the Engineering
area - I was the only training person. I had no assistants. That
suited my style.
Doug - Who were you working to?
John - Ken Middleton.
Doug - Did you have any involvement with the Victorian Trainee
John - No. There was recruitment in both Sydney and Melbourne concurrently
for that instructional position. The first position in Melbourne was filled
by an ex-Navy bloke. We had no dealings.
Doug - Were you given free reign in your conduct of the technical
John - Yes It was the most enjoyable 3 or 4 years of my technical
life. The trainees were all a first rate group. We had the training scheme
under our own control. We set the standards. We called on the Tech. College
at North Sydney to assist us in the basic electrical and electronic training
as background. And then put a layer of emphasis in the broadcasting, especially
television area. That continued for the first couple of years of the trainees
and then we started putting in more time on ABC television principles
Doug - Was the TVOCP something that had to be done as supplementary
training for the basic Technician qualification?
John - No, but I used to encourage the chaps to run through the
TVOPS Certificate as a sort of training run for the full TIT qualification.
They were quite separate entities - the examining authorities are different.
It was for a general broadening of their horizons. At that time there
was some doubt as to whether all the number of Technicians coming through
- and there weren't so may God bless -would be able to placed in vacant
positions when they graduated. The TVOCP would be an entre to the commercial
world if indeed they had to go that way or if it took their preference
at some later time.
John Watson started work at Gore Hill in 1957 as a Supervising Technician
Grade B (Training). He retired in 1984 as Head ABC Training.