Interview with Kevin Gough
Kevin started working at Leyland in 1971 as an apprentice. Kevin worked in many facilities at the Leyland site and saw many changes over the years.
By the time he retired in 2019, he had built an incredible 48 years’ service.
We spoke to Kevin to find out more about the history of our Leyland facility.
When did you start working at Millbrook?
I first started at Leyland as an apprentice on the 9th August 1971. It was still called Leyland Motors at that time. I had my 16th birthday 3 days after I started work.
In the early years I worked at the main truck production site where there was a test centre which had a small test track and a vehicle workshop alongside engine and component test facilities.
What was the Leyland facility like when it first opened?
The technical centre, which is now the Millbrook Leyland facility, was officially opened in 1980 by Sir Keith Joseph who was the Secretary of State for Industry at the time under Margaret Thatcher’s leadership.
I remember on the day of the official opening there were protesters lining the approach to the site who were unhappy with Mrs Thatcher’s stance against the unions. This was an ironic situation as it was actually state funds which financed the building of a state-of-the-art facility for the testing and development of the products that were designed and built in the Leyland factories.
"When the site was first opened it had facilities that were amongst the best in the world."
Facilities like the test track specifically designed for commercial vehicles and the Semi-Anechoic Chamber, which was equipped with a twin wheel rolling road dynamometer and was big enough to house a double decker bus. The structures laboratory with a 1.2 mega-watt pumping station and 1,100 tonne seismic block were also unique at that time.
During the period leading up to the site being officially opened, I was working with engineers to install the hydraulic ring mains which would supply the hydraulic power to the structural test facilities.
I can remember the 1,100 tonnes of concrete for the seismic block being delivered and poured. A fleet of cement mixers made multiple trips to the site so that the cement was poured without a break, to ensure that it dried as a single block.
Do you have any favourite memories or stories?
I remember holding an open day for all the technical centre staff and their families. This was a tremendous success with lots of stalls and activities and was enjoyed and appreciated by everyone.
Another significant event which was held at the technical centre was the UK launch of the Leyland Roadrunner 7.5T truck. Known as the toughest truck on two wheels because the advertising campaign showed it being driven around our test track balancing on the two RHS wheels.
"At this time, over a period of weeks the technical centre became a showcase for all that was good in the industry."
Back then, we hosted truck operators and dealership staff from all over the UK and Europe.
In around April 1994, during the period when the technical centre was in administration, a team of the management staff made an offer for the site. This was accepted and an independent company called The Leyland Technical Centre was formed.
What are you most proud of whilst working at Millbrook?
I would like to think that I have always shown pride in my work and been dedicated to my employer whether it be Leyland Motors or more recently Millbrook. I have been particularly proud of the fact that I played my part in keeping the technical centre open for business through the period of receivership. I subsequently helped to build an independent business which survived through some particularly difficult times when other similar businesses failed.
As a Leyland employee I was also proud of the products I helped to get to market, particularly the Roadrunner 7.5T truck and the military 4 x 4 truck developed for the UK armed forces.
"I am proud of the role I played in instigating and helping set up the year in industry programme at the technical centre."
Over the years this has been a great success giving many young engineers their first taste of the automotive industry. Many of these engineers returned after completing their qualifications. History has shown that the training and experience that they gained at the technical centre was well respected and received by many companies in this sector.
Who inspired you at Millbrook?
A chief engineer called Bill Lowe who I worked for shortly after the technical centre opened. He recognised some potential in me and encouraged me to go to university and study for an engineering degree. I did this and gained a 1st Class Honours Degree and subsequently became a member of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and a Chartered Engineer.
I was also inspired by the Sales Director of what was then mi Technology. His name was Colin Hardman and he was one of the team who set the technical centre up as an independent company. Over many years Colin provided help and encouragement to all staff members. He encouraged me to take up a role in sales to broaden my horizons and after a couple of years doing that he had the trust and confidence to give me the position as manager over the structural test department. He was the person who helped map out a career which eventually led me to becoming the Chief Engineer for mi Technology.
Kevin on his last day at Millbrook after his exceptional 48 years of service.
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This industry has played a major part in my life over a very long period. It not only gave me a great career but has allowed me to travel extensively, visiting both developed and developing nations, meeting and working with people from different cultures.
In total, I worked at Millbrook for 48 years.
"There is no doubt in my mind that working at the technical centre has had a significant influence on me becoming the person I am."
For that I would like to thank all the companies I have worked for.