Radio technician training at Rugby Street

By Chris Underwood

In the early 1960s the training school was moved from the old army buildings at Trentham to a new two-story building in Rugby Street. The downstairs floor was used by the Post Office Parcels Branch but the upstairs floor was occupied mostly by the NZPO Quartz Crystal Manufacturing Lab while the Radio Training school occupied two large rooms – one at the rear of the building and one at the front overlooking Basin Reserve.

73 Rugby Street, Wellington

The NZ Post Office radio school moved into this building at 73 Rugby St, Wellington, in the early 1960s. The building was also home to the NZPO’s radio crystal lab. Photo Feb 2015, Google Street View

The building is still standing (September, 2017). As you can see in the photo above, it’s about the only building of the era left in the street. The windows with the “For Lease” signs in them were the front room for the Radio School. Some of the windows to the right lit the stairwell, from memory. A main passage way ran pretty much on the centre line for the length of the building until it hit the wall of the second classroom.

At the time I attended, Bill Glavin was the Senior Instructor and Ian Grant (of Pass the Salt fame on TV) was his assistant. The classroom at the rear was just that, a classroom and used by more junior classes instructed by the Assistant Instructor. The front room was also a classroom but had an area for basic test gear for lab work and practical experience and was usually used by more advanced classes.

Trainees at the Rugby St radio training school in the early 1960s

Trainees at the Rugby St radio training school in the early 1960s, with instructor William (Bill) Glavin at the right. Courtesy Chris Underwood

I’m pretty sure the photo above was taken in the front room. Bill Glavin is the instructor and the only other person I recognise is Dave Robinson (2nd row on the left hand side). Some names are written in pencil on the back of this photo, but even though I knew some of those named I don’t recognise them in the photo. Brian Fanning, ? Cook, ? Hart, N McGibbon, John Dawson, Dave Robinson.

Test bench in the front room of the Rugby St radio training school, c1962-1964. The instructor is Kelvin Watson.

Test bench in the front room of the Rugby St radio training school, c1962-1964. The instructor is Kelvin Watson. Courtesy Chris Underwood

Kelvin Watson was later the head of General Section when I started in 1965 at the Wellington Radio Depot. He was a really good boss, and I learned heaps off him. I don’t recognise the other two guys in the photo.

Instructor Ian Grant (standing under the giant sliderule) with trainees at the Rugby St School

Instructor Ian Grant (standing under the giant slide rule) with trainees in the back classroom of the Rugby St school. Date unknown. Courtesy Chris Underwood.

Participants in the 2nd Stage Radio School, 22 Jan - 7 Mar 1963, which was the first class held after the training school moved to Rugby St.

Participants in the 2nd Stage Radio School, 22 Jan – 7 Mar 1963, which was the first class held after the training school moved to Rugby St. Photo taken near Basin Reserve. Ross Williams is in the middle row, 2nd from left.1 and Alwyn Reveley (Christchurch Depot & Awarua Radio) is in the middle row at far right.2 Joe Crandle (Auckland and Warkworth Satellite Station) is in the front row at right.3
Courtesy Chris Underwood.

Trainees working with PETE (Phillips Electronic Training Equipment) in the front classroom of the Rugby St school.

Trainees working with PETE (Phillips Electronic Training Equipment) in the front classroom at Rugby St.
1. Dave Robinson (later worked at Makara Radio)4   2. Ian Grant (Instructor)5
3. Peter Moore (Auckland)6   4. Laurie Berg (Instructor)7   5. Andy Smith8   6. John Hoskins9
7. Kevin Hawyard (Chch Radio Depot)10   8. Michael Hadrup (Auckland)11   9. Ian Gow (Awarua)12
Date unknown. Courtesy Chris Underwood. Click to enlarge.

Trainee radio technicians at the Rugby St school, date unknown

Trainee radio technicians at the Rugby St school, date unknown. Courtesy Chris Underwood

Trainee radio technicians at the Rugby St school, date unknown

Trainee radio technicians at the Rugby St school, date unknown. Courtesy Chris Underwood

Trainees at Rugby St radio training school in November 1963

Trainees at Rugby St radio training school in November 1963.
1. Neil McGibbon13   2. Unknown14   3. Unknown15   4. Kevin Lunn (Himatangi)16
5. Unknown17   6. Alan Dewar (Hamilton)18   7. Terry Hart19   8. Bill Glavin (Instructor)20
9. Unknown21   10. Unknown22   11. Unknown23
Photo courtesy Terry Hart. Click to view original.

I attended Rugby St Radio School in 1963 for 1st Stage and in 1964 for 2nd Stage. Back then, you needed to score 80% or better in the interim tests or you would be invited to join the PO telephone section! The schools gave a very good grounding in radio technology. Later, I attended Petone Polytech for specialised courses in radio communications, microwave and pulse techniques that rounded everything off for the 1st Class Certificate in Radio Technology.
– Terry Hart

Around 1967, training for NZPO radio techs was shifted to the Polytechs around New Zealand and courses were no longer exclusively for Post Office staff.

  • If you can identify any of the people in these photos, or have other information about New Zealand Post Office radio training schools, please contact the editor.

Next: Radio technician training at polytechs


Notes
1. Source: Dave Brown, Nov 2018
2. Source: Dave Brown and Paul Dennison, Nov 2018
3. Source: Peter Moore, Nov 2018
4. Source: Peter Moore, Nov 2018
5. Source: Peter Moore, Nov 2018
6. Source: Peter Moore, Nov 2018
7. Source: Brian Gallagher, Nov 2018
8. Source: Brian Gallagher, Nov 2018
9. Source: Errol Lilley, Nov 2018
10. Source: Peter Moore, Nov 2018
11. Source: Peter Moore, Nov 2018
12. Source: Paul Dennison and Peter Moore, Nov 2018
13. Source: Peter Moore, Nov 2018
14. Please contact us if you can identify this person
15. Please contact us if you can identify this person
16. Source: Peter Moore, Nov 2018
17. Please contact us if you can identify this person
18. Source: Peter Moore, Nov 2018
19. Source: Terry Hart, Nov 2017
20. Source: Peter Moore, Nov 2018
21. Please contact us if you can identify this person
22. Please contact us if you can identify this person
23. Please contact us if you can identify this person