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.

In the front classroom of the Rugby St school. Instructor Ian Grant is in the back row, 2nd from left. Date unknown.

In the front classroom of the Rugby St school. Instructor Ian Grant is in the back row, 2nd from left. Possibly Andy Smith in the back wearing a suit. 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

Trainee radio technicians at the Rugby St school, date unknown

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

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 unknown people in these photos, or have other information about New Zealand Post Office radio training schools, please contact the editor.