Doug Halloway, who worked for Hawkers at the beginning of
World War II, remembers those important and exciting
November 1938; the Kingston electricity station was on fire.
No lighting was available for the Hawker factory in Canbury
Park Road for three days. Candles were used so that we could
continue working until 5.30 pm.
I was working in the 'rib shop' at that time with Eric
Brooks and Theo Ball, just two names I remember. Jock Walker
and Wally Rayner were chargehands and Freddy Davis foreman.
Gamble, Sellars and Simmons were floating supervisors who
sacked or suspended anyone for three days without pay, for
the slightest misdemeanour, as I personally discovered -
fortunately Jock Walker saved my day. I also spent some time
on Hurricane centre sections and over the road on wings on
the 'Plane Floor'.
When war was declared air-raid shelters were built where the
cycle racks were, on the outside of the factory in Canbury
Park Road, with another shelter behind 'The Rink' with cycle
racks on top. When the sirens sounded I was one of several
who had to run down the road to the Rink shelter behind the
In 1940 Hawkers spread out to many different areas for
safety and greater production: Acton, Perivale, Tolworth and
other places. Langley would take over from Brooklands for
final assembly and flight testing. The rib shop moved to an
ex-German factory on the Slough Trading Estate. Initially
there was no heating so dustbins were positioned in the
factory, filled with coke and used as braziers. Several glass
panels were removed from the roof to let out the smoke. Brick
air-raid shelters were built inside along the centre of
departments but were only used officially if enemy aircraft
were very near.
A lot of female labour was employed and I was assistant
chargehand over about 50. Harold Wyatt worked with me and
Jack Paice was brought in as chargehand. We were never hit by
bombs but there was a sad event one day when the husband of
one of the women turned up with their 12 year old daughter.
When the mother went to the front entrance the husband
stabbed and killed her; obviously a domestic
Tommy Bray was the manager there and when I volunteered for
the Navy in 1942 he wouldn't release me. From 1940 to 1942 I
was working all hours at Slough. I would leave Kingston by
coach at 7.00 am and some days not get back until 10.00 pm.
Saturdays and Sundays we worked until 5.30 pm, especially
during the Battle of Britain. Kingston was bombed several
times; the Regal was hit one night and the blast blew out the
front of The Three Fishes pub across the road. I stayed in
bed that time as there was only one aircraft. Another evening
as I was walking home from the coach, a raid was in progress
and as I walked past the factory in Canbury Park Road I heard
bombs coming down, which had me worried as I was right
alongside the obvious target. Fortunately Hawkers was spared
that time but a block of flats in Park Road was destroyed
with, I believe, several casualties.
I lived in Canbury Avenue, about 300 yards from Hawkers, and
one night I had just gone to bed when I heard the bombs
falling. This time they were on target. One fell alongside
the cinema, the second hit Hawkers in Canbury Park Road, the
third knocked four houses down in Deakon Road and the fourth
fell in the back gardens just across the road. I got dressed
this time and went out to see if I could help but there was
nothing I could do except roll up telephone wires which had
been brought down along the road. So, back to bed as I had
the 7.00 am coach to catch.
In 1943 the build up for D-Day, the invasion of Europe, was
starting, so I volunteered for REME and this time I was able
to join HM forces. I joined up in March 1943, ready for my
free cruise to France in June!