David Moorhouse

Former Senior Structural Engineer with Bradford Council, David Moorhouse, passed his ONC in
Mechanical Engineering at Bradford Technical College in the 1950s and then completed his HNC
at Bradford Institute of Advanced Technology in the 1960s.

David MoorhouseIn 1952 when David left school at 16 there were numerous large engineering companies in Bradford, all with apprentices attending Bradford Technical College.

“I served my apprenticeship at Frederick Fox’s in Bowling Back Lane. I started at 7.30am, had a half hour for lunch and worked until 5pm. Then 3 nights per week I came to evening classes from 7 until 9pm. I did this for all 5 years of my apprenticeship, getting my ONC in Mechanical Engineering in 1957. It was very hard as there was so much homework which left little time to see my future wife, Joan. She was studying a commercial course and everyone we knew was doing something at the ‘Tech.’ We sometimes met after classes to go part of the way home together and she always waited outside if I was doing one of my exams.

I then did National Service in the Royal Horse Artillery as a technical assistant working as battery surveyor from 1958 until 1960. On returning home I went back to work at Fox’s, moving from the shop floor to the drawing office.

In 1961 I got a job for the Council in the City Engineers Department, where I received day release to go do my HNC at the Bradford Institute of Advanced Technology, though I still had to attend College 3 nights per week. Every weekend was spent working on massive files of homework with many hours in the study rooms of the Library in Darley Street. I had married in 1961 but the whole of my life was taken up with work and study. I was 35 before I finally qualified as a Member of the Institute of Civil Engineers as in our day you had to have the experience to back up your studies. Although I hated doing exams I found the content of my work all absolutely fascinating.

I began in the Building Office as a Factory Inspector, surveying all buildings for structure and means of escape for licences. Then when I got my HNC I was able to go into the Structures Section. In the mid 1960s I used to do all sorts of designs and structural calculations, for instance for the subway that runs to the National Media Museum, which was exceptionally complicated in engineering terms. I handled site investigations and was put in charge of all Bradford’s demolition, road widening and resulting reconstruction. As I drive around Bradford now I see so many examples of my work. I was first call to all emergencies including fires and gas explosions and I used to attend court as a professional witness. I enjoyed the banter and the satisfaction of getting a job done.

I was offered early retirement when services were privatised in 1994. I was so well known and respected that firms constantly approached me therefore I started a private practice as a consultant doing structural surveys and design. I finally retired in 2002, aged 66.

As a day release student we all wore the College blazer as we were proud to come here to College. After I had qualified I occasionally helped out at night school if they were short staffed.”

Photograph by Shelagh Ward