Wartime apprentices unite for the last time
Team Valley employer Sigmund Pumps was a pioneer in training and offering their apprentices a host of benefits.
The late Miroslav Sigmund known as one of the most brilliant pioneers in the engineering field, built a factory for his company Sigmund Pumps in 1937, which is now occupied by Turbo Power Systems. We learnt of this when George Noble one of the apprentices for Sigmund Pumps – whose family escaped Nazi Germany in exchange for giving up their business, first came in contact 6 months ago suggesting that an apprentice reunion take place and we were delighted to go ahead with the event.
The reunion was the third to take place since 2005 and out of 150 apprentices trained by Sigmund Pumps through a seven-year scheme in the midst of World War II. TPS welcomed nine former apprentices at Team Valley where they were given tours and presentations at the companies occupying the site: TPS manufacturing facility, UK Land Estates and the Engineering Employers’ Federation, which is now based where the Sigmund’s canteen was once situated.
During the tour, Chief Operating Officer at TPS David Hancill gave a demonstration of the products made at the facility. The former apprentices were amazed by the vast range and quality of products TPS produces, and were intrigued to find out more. Thompson asked David “do you think you’re a leader in the engineering industry with what your product offering”? David replied, “When you look at the products that we offer, the reason we are still here is because we are very niche, a very small market inside a large market, and we are here because it’s difficult to do. We are technology driven in terms of engineering, and our design and operation team are not afraid of these challenges. They do an excellent job of turning that raw material into global product”.
Sigmund Pumps had a wartime reputation for designing and manufacturing engine pumps and parts of Bren gun for Britian’s fire brigades, during the Second World War for its fleet of Green Goddesses. Miroslav Sigmund held more than 50 patents, including those for the first submersible electrical motors for water well pumps, and for heat exchangers and air filters. He developed production methods for the manufacture of slim-line pressed steel radiators and created the “Thermopak” central heating circulating pump, which enabled the development of small-bore central heating systems for domestic consumers.
Mr Sigmund’s daughter Lady Helen Sherlock remembers all these events that unfolded in his time. She recalls “When my Father moved from the Czech Republic, he brought with him his extensive engineering knowledge, his courage and tenacity in difficult times, his humanity, and of course the apprenticeship scheme. He would have loved to have been here today. He was a modest man, but deeply proud of what his boys achieved, for themselves and for the company”.
Not only was the reunion a chance for the former apprentices to relive their memories again, but it was also an opportunity to learn the depth of history our building shared, the development of engineering and recognition of the hard work from many people. Alan Watson the Production Operator for TPS has been working in the facility for more than 40 years and shared the fond memory of his mother-in-law working for TPS many years ago.
Knowing the credibility of work Miroslav Sigmund produced, TPS are proud to carry on that same engineering pedigree through.
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