Radio technician training at Trentham

By Chris Underwood

A new school for the Post & Telegraph Department was established in 1949 at Trentham in what is now Upper Hutt City within Wellington Region.

From the Report of the NZ Post & Telegraph Department for the year 1949-1950:

Recruits to the Post Office receive their main training on the job, but this is supplemented by a fairly complete scheme of training at established schools. For many years, school training was restricted to instruction in Morse operating, but during recent years the schools have been extended and now provide complete courses in:

  • Morse operating and sub-office work
  • Machine-printing operating
  • Radio operating
  • Radio mechanicians’ work
  • Electrical and general mechanical work
  • Telephone-exchange mechanicians’ work
  • Telegraph mechanics’ work
  • Line construction and cable-jointing work
  • Typing

The schools are fitted with up-to-date apparatus conforming to that in actual use. The courses vary from eight to twenty weeks of full-time intensive training under competent instructors. Refresher courses are also provided as required.1

The same report also noted that the department was operating seven staff hostels, the largest of which was at Trentham, accommodating 350 staff.2

Trainees at radio training school, Trentham, in 1952

Trainees at radio training school, Trentham, in 1952.
A: Unknown3   B: Unknown4   C: Unknown5   D: Unknown6   E: Unknown7
F: Lou Campen8   G: Jack Coleman9   H: Unknown10
I: Don Snaden11   J: Unknown12   K: Unknown13
Courtesy Dave Brown. Click to enlarge.

The instructor in the photos below is Keith Surridge. I knew him quite well but never worked with him. A very clever guy, he helped install the first microwave systems around the country and later was responsible for setting up the TV standards converter at Warkworth Earth Station so that we could watch American-sourced TV. He was a keen player of indoor and lawn bowls.

Keith Surridge (centre, standing) with students at the Trentham radio training school in 1961.

Keith Surridge (centre, standing) with students at the Trentham radio training school in 1961.
A: DJ Wards?14   B: Dennis Moore?15   C: Unknown16   D: Keith Blackett?17,   E: Allan Edginton18
F: Unknown19   G: Allan Fletcher20   H: DA King?21   I: Unknown22   K: Unknown23
Courtesy Chris Underwood. Click to enlarge.

Keith Surridge (centre, standing) with students at the Trentham radio training school in 1961.

Keith Surridge (centre, standing) with students at the Trentham radio training school in 1961.
A: DJ Wards?14   B: Dennis Moore?15   C: Unknown16   D: Keith Blackett?17,   E: Allan Edginton18
F: Unknown19   G: Allan Fletcher20   H: DA King?21   I: Unknown22   J: Unknown23
Courtesy Chris Underwood. Click to enlarge.

In the photo above, Keith Surridge is talking with Allan Edginton, who taught me solid state theory years later when I was at the school in Rugby Street. The guy in the bottom right hand corner is Allan Fletcher (I worked with him in the late 1960s and he taught me a lot about Land Mobile Radio). I don’t recognise anyone else, although the guy on the left, second row back, might be Denis Moore.

L-R: Trainees KA Blackett (Wellington), AL Edginton (Awarua), DA King (Christchurch) and DJ Wards (New Plymouth) with instructor KO Surridge, 1961.

L-R: Trainees KA Blackett (Wellington), AL Edginton (Awarua), DA King (Christchurch) and DJ Wards (New Plymouth) with instructor KO Surridge, 1961.
Courtesy Chris Underwood

In the photo above, Keith Surridge is showing the application of vectors to alternating current circuits. I worked with Keith Blackett, a clever guy who, sadly, drowned in a yachting accident, on Lake Taupo I believe.

In this 1961 photo, trainees DC Moore (left) and AE Fletcher, both from Wellington, align a communications receiver using a signal generator and a multimeter. In the background is a 100 watt transmitter with its associated equipment, also used for training purposes.

In this 1961 photo, trainees DC Moore (left) and AE Fletcher, both from Wellington, align a communications receiver using a signal generator and a multimeter. In the background is a 100 watt transmitter with its associated equipment, also used for training purposes.
Courtesy Chris Underwood

I worked with Dennis Moore (pictured above) while still a trainee at the Wellington Radio Depot.

Instructor Peter Munro (standing) with a trainee at the Trentham radio school. Date unknown.

Instructor Peter Munro (standing) with a trainee at the Trentham radio school.
Date unknown. Courtesy Chris Underwood

I knew Peter Munro and worked in the same section as him for a while. He went on to became the Chief Tech at Invercargill Radio Depot about the time that the technicians working at Awarua Radio came under the control of the Chief Tech at the Radio Depot.

A Trentham radio tech class, c1962. Glenn Kingston, Joe Crandle, Tom Mazey, Graeme Mai (partly obscured), Alan Dewar, John Carr (suited up instructor), ??? Kelly, Dave Burger, Peter Mulhare, Unknown, John Hoskin.

A Trentham radio tech class, c1962. L-R: Glenn Kingston, Joe Crandle, Tom Mazey, Graeme Mai (partly obscured), Alan Dewar, John Carr (suited up instructor), ??? Kelly, Dave Burger, Peter Mulhare, Unknown, John Hoskin.
Courtesy Glenn Kingston. Click to enlarge.
“This photo was taken outside the radio school in an area where trainee linesmen worked on poles and lines. The instructor was John Carr standing in for Keith Surridge (I am pretty sure it was just for part of that course).”
– Glenn Kingston

The last radio training class held at Trentham, before the move to Rugby St, 1962

The last radio training class held at Trentham, before the move to Rugby St, 1962. Colin Smith (Napier Radio Depot), front row, 3rd from left.24
Courtesy Chris Underwood

In the early 1960s, the radio technicians school moved again, to Rugby Street in Wellington.

  • 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 Rugby St


Notes
1. Post & Telegraph Department (1950). Report for the year 1949-1950, p. 4
2. ibid, p. 5
3. Please contact us if you can identify this person
4. Please contact us if you can identify this person
5. Please contact us if you can identify this person
6. Please contact us if you can identify this person
7. Please contact us if you can identify this person
8. Source: Dave Brown, Nov 2018
9. Source: Brian Gallagher, Nov 2018
10. Please contact us if you can identify this person
11. Source: Dave Brown, Nov 2018
12. Please contact us if you can identify this person
13. Please contact us if you can identify this person
14. Tentative identification based on comparison with another photo on this page
15. Please contact us if you can identify this person
16. Please contact us if you can identify this person
17. Tentative identification based on comparison with another photo on this page
18. Source: Chris Underwood, 2018
19. Please contact us if you can identify this person
20. Source: Chris Underwood, 2018
21. Tentative identification based on comparison with another photo on this page
22. Please contact us if you can identify this person
23. Please contact us if you can identify this person
24. Source: Errol Lilley, Nov 2018