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Reyrolle and Me!
Trevor Dieffenhaler was an apprentice and employee at Reyrolle Electrical Engineering company in South Tyneside, from 1957 until 1962.
Here is Trevor's story...
I was born on 26th July 1938 in Trinidad (then a British Colony) and educated on the island.
At the age of 18 years, I was awarded a scholarship from the Port-of-Spain Electricity Board to study Electrical Engineering in England, under the direction of the company Reyrolle. I was put on a banana boat to England and I had a great 17 days aboard a small steam ship, stopping at ports in Barbados, Madeira, Porto, Lisbon and Leixores before finally landing in Liverpool on July 24th 1958.
I had spent my one month allowance by the time I arrived in England, but I contacted the British Counsel in Liverpool who arranged for the local Reyrolles' representative to meet me. I was put on a train to Newcastle and was met by a Reyrolles' student, Paddy Pang from Singapore who took me to a boarding house in South Shields. I went to the factory next day and began my Senior Technical apprenticeship. I soon moved onto my general electrical and mechanical training and also attended Hebburn Technical College during 1959.
I officially completed my Reyrolle apprenticeship in July 1960 and was employed by the company as a Junior Assistant Test Engineer. Over the next two years, I worked and obtained my Diploma in Electrical Engineering awarded by the Institute of Electrical Engineers, returning to Trinidad (once again by a banana boat) in June 1962. My 'Reyrolle' wife Freda, whom I met when we both competed in the company's Swimming Gala, accompanied me. Freda spent her early working life at Reyrolle. Her father Freddy, her sister Ina and her sister-in-law Freda Mennie, were all Reyrolle people too.
Trevor and Freda Dieffenhaler at home in Trinidad, c.1960's
I had come to the end of probably the most enjoyable, eventful and beneficial phase of my life so far!
As part of my scholarship agremment, I was obligated to work for the Port-of-Spain Electricity Board for 5 years, but while I had been away the company was under the new management of T&TEC. This company was responsible for generating and distributing the electrical supply to all areas of Trinidad and Tobago. With this change, there was a push to encourage as many Trinidad born engineers to return home from mainly England, USA and Canada to work for T&TEC - they did so in droves!
In 1982, my family and I moved to the USA. I am now a husband, a father of 4 and a grandfather of 15 (going on 16!)
Reyrolle and Me! features in Issue 18 of the Reyrolle Heritage Trust Newsletter.
Many thanks to Trevor Dieffenhaler and Alan Wright