So, How did this site get here, where
are we now, what is planned for the future.
First, a word of warning. This probably goes on a
bit, which is why I decided to put it on its own page. I found myself putting a
brief history of the site into every e-mail I sent to a new contact, so now I
will just refer them here, those of you with a more masochistic nature might
find it interesting.
How did we get here? A hard core of the 1968 intake have met up on an annual basis going back many years now. Originally this was a date in January or February and for a long time was in the Ship in Marlow where we took over an upstairs room for the afternoon. In 1998/9 the pub changed hands and became more eating orientated and they used the upstairs room as an overflow, so a new venue was virtually forced upon us.
I can't really recall how I got involved, maybe I was the worst for wear towards the end of the afternoon and I was caught off guard. I ended up with the database originally put together by Andy Hunt for the 1993 formal reunion, we changed the venue to the Horse & Barge with effect from 2000 and changed the date to the 1st Sunday in June. I did a mail shot to all the addresses on the database asking for any further contacts, put the database into its current Access format, other formats available on request, pursued the additional contacts that came back etc. etc., but you don't want to hear about that now.
The 2000 'gathering' - I am still looking for a better description - was the first to test the Horse and Barge/June combination and the turnout was pretty good, ranging over many more years than it had done before, which bodes well for the future. At that gathering the web site idea was put forward and since I had the database and the means to produce it I said I would look into it - and what you see here is the result.
Where are we now? A very good question - I am pleased you asked. Until 2001 the content had been restricted to that sent in by some of you - and I thank you for that - and some other bits I had cobbled together. This was bolstered greatly after the 2001 gathering by my taking over the archive material that is available. This has made its way onto the site over the months and years, but I would still appreciate all the stuff you have tucked away, it makes for a much less formal and more interesting site, see the Photo Archive page for submission criteria, I don't think this is too restricting and I am pretty flexible.
The interest in 2001 took me a bit by surprise and a substantial number of contacts have been added or validated since the mails, both e and snail, went out. In 2004 I stopped sending blanket snail mails to all but a few recipients who I know to exist.
Where are we going? I sent out an e-mail in April 2001 asking for sponsors so that we could get a higher profile domain name and that was fulfilled by Neil Revington who coughs up for the domain name, or at least his company does, all tax deductable, and at the time of updating this, Jan 2007, I am about to ask him to increase that to cover the broadband access as well. I bought some web promotional software for my wifes business and use this to get the site to its prominent position in the search engines.
The future of the sight rests in the hands of you, the ex-apprentices. I am more than willing to maintain and add to it if that meets with your approval, but it does require your ideas and 'input'. I have some ideas but at the end of the day it is not 'my' site, it is yours, as is the content, and I don't want to see it stagnate or just become an archive in another form so get/keep those stories, anecdotes, pictures etc. coming in..
If you do not like the way this site represents your past, or you have constructive suggestions for improvement, please get in touch with me using the e-mail link on the home page.
A database of ex-apprentices is maintained by myself and includes a large number of names without a known contact address. The database now spans the full 30 years from 1953 to the closure of the labs in 1983. All contacts are welcome, the database can be forwarded upon validation of the person requesting it as an ex-apprentice.