from Peter Caton

In the Summer of 1975 I felt that my career at The BNF was not going any further so I did something I’d never done before – I bought a copy of The Telegraph the next Thursday (as that was the regular day for job adverts).  In that issue was an advert for a post at Fulmer Research Institute.  The text called for someone with experience in casting of copper alloys and the person to reply to was John Campbell.

As I had been working in this area for some years and I had read several excellent technical papers published by John Campbell I wrote off straight away.  Imagine my surprise, then, when I got a reply within days asking me to attend for interview!

When I met John on the appointed day, after a preliminary chat about my work at The BNF, he revealed that he had been at the same Cambridge College as me (Fitzwilliam) just a few years earlier.  Then, just as we were about to take things further, there was a knock on his door and when the person came in John introduced him as his Group manager, Charles Desforges, and said they wanted a quick word before continuing my interview.  When John saw me looking quizzingly at Charles he turned to me to say that they wouldn’t be long.  I then replied “No problem, it’s just that Charles was one of my Practicals’ Demonstrators in the Metallurgy Department at Cambridge!”.

After Charles had left John turned to me and gave me an Application Form saying that as he hadn’t had time to send it before would I please complete it then, and “When could I start?”

When I did start it coincided with the retirement of Eric Brandes so John said he would like me to look after two of the projects that Eric had been running.  One was the UNIDO sponsored Metals Advisory Service project in Lahore, Pakistan (referred to in other articles on the website) and the other was a project on aluminium/lead alloys to be carried out on the first flight of Spacelab.  These two ‘plum’ projects were ‘as different as chalk and cheese’ but both gave me fantastic opportunities to learn more about ‘people behaviour’ and also extend my technical experience.

Call it coincidence if you like but I think it was my Destiny to buy that paper on that day.

I thoroughly enjoyed my thirteen years at Fulmer working on a wide variety of projects and perhaps it was Destiny again that arranged for me to ‘Escape over the wall’ (as Iris Monks put it) in 1988 before the fateful move to Wantage?