Norman West 1907 - 2001

A tribute to Norman by Derek West

Norman, born and bred in Wigan, graduated in 1930, with a B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering, from the University of London, after completing a three year degree course, at Wigan Mining and Technical College.

After a variety of jobs and many ups and downs, due to the recession and dole, Norman became a member of part time staff at Wigan College in 1935, teaching maths, motor construction and Engineering Drawing.

A long awaited full time job was taken up at Ferranti’s in Hollinwood, Oldham, as a Jig and Tool draughtsman. Now living in Manchester, Norman still travelled to Wigan after work and his part time teaching; such was his enthusiasm for the profession, only leaving Wigan College in 1943 to save on travelling, to take up a similar position at Oldham Technical College, teaching S.1 Engineering Science and drawing.

Normans connection with what he called the “Manchester Experience”, started as early as c.1946 in the days when Openshaw Technical High School for boys and Openshaw Technical College, were housed in the same building, situated at the junction of Gorton Road and Pottery Lane, on the well known No.53 bus route.

Norman started as a lecturer at Gorton Road, teaching Engineering and Technical drawing, becoming Form master and eventually House master. It was c.1960 before Openshaw Technical College at last had a new home in Whitworth Street and staff moved over. Norman loved his work and time at the college and was appointed Lecturer 1 after the move to Whitworth Street, where he gained a new subject to learn and teach, namely Applied Thermodynamics.

Lab experiments for the course were carried out in W12 in the workshop block.Ken Bromley was his trusty technician. I was a student of Norman, doing my ONC, while employed from 1967-1973 at the College as lab technician for Frank Smith and Fred Barwise. Norman was very happy to be appointed to Lecturer 2 in 1969.

Norman was of the era of Frank Smith, Colin Shimmin, Joe Rackstraw, W Edwards, H Ashton, Doug Turner and many other colleagues, who were not just friends at work but who met socially outside of work on a regular basis. He respected them all and enjoyed the camaraderie. Norman used to organise the annual staff dinner dance and staff bowling tournament, doing this for many years and enjoyed by all.

I, as are all the family, am very proud of Norman and what he achieved in his life. He was hard working, conscientious, a good friend, brilliant dad and a bit mischievous, but always there if you needed him.

Norman retired from lecturing at Openshaw in 1969, aged 62. Retiring earlier than intended and most probably prompted by the death earlier in that year of Lily, his wife of 37 years, after a long illness.

In retirement Norman joined Brookdale Golf Club at Woodhouses and spent many happy frustrating hours, trying to perfect his game, playing the fairways. Along with the golf he joined the local crown green bowling club, in that more sedate form of pastime. Gardening and a bit of DIY was also part of activities at home, as well as a helping hand with home improvements for members of the family. In 1992 at the age of 85, Norman decided he would write his autobiography, since his brain was the most active part of his body, now physical activities were greatly reduced. His recall of events very early in his life including names and dates, still amazes me today, when I glance again at the book, which is more potent to me, than looking at a photograph.

Norman died in 2001, aged 93, leaving sons Trevor & Derek, and daughter in laws Barbara & Dorothy as well as grandchildren Andrew, Joanne & Darran. Leaving us, with many happy memories. .

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