Japanese Mission

Duration: 3:47 minutes
Accession No: TWCMS : 2009.318
This story has been viewed 7377 times

John's story is about a trip he went on to Japan to exhibit Doxford Engines.

By John Bambridge


Other information

This story was inspired by the Doxford engine from the collections at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

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Video transcript

On Thursday afternoon on the 24th April 1975 I was called into the chief draftsman's office and asked if I could go to Japan on 30th April to take the place of the Contract Manager. My immediate reaction was "yes please", but I did not have a valid passport. That was not a problem as I could get photographs, fill in application forms and send to the London office that day, and they would arrange a passport. I departed early morning from Newcastle for London, together with a cine film in a can, which I had to keep close by me in my hand luggage. I picked up the passport from London Office and my tickets from the travel agents and caught the flight to Tokyo, via Anchorage, from Heathrow. This was a brilliant new experience; travelling intercontinental in a Boeing 747. I managed to find others on the plane who were on the same mission and we all gathered for bus transport to the city centre.  All the members were staying at the same hotel, but I was booked in at the Palace Hotel, opposite The Imperial Palace. I picked up my case and set off across the city to the hotel, arriving early evening. I felt extremely lonely in this strange city so I decided to find the bar, which had a semi circular counter and seating. I looked around and could only see two faces that were not Japanese, taking evening drinks. When these people went home I made my way across to one of the English looking faces and asked if he was English, to which the reply was "True Brit Man". He was the Export Sales Manager for Bell's Whiskey. 

The event was the second British Marine Equipment Exhibition held at the British Export Marketing Centre, which opened in 1973. The exhibition coincided with a visit by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.

Doxford Engines exhibited models of a 67-J4 and Seahorse Engines. I was assisted by a Marine Manager and a female interpreter from our agents in Kobe. The young girl was extremely keen to learn about the engine and took over once the exhibition started, only requiring assistance when someone asked an awkward question. 

Doxford's MD and Sales Manager from the London office also stayed a few days in Tokyo. The week ended with a visit by the Duke of Edinburgh, who stopped at the stand and he had obviously been well briefed by his staff on our participating members.  

The MD and Sales Manager left for Australia the next day. I packed the engines up to transport them back to England, and packed the film again in my hand luggage. I left Tokyo after a very educational and enjoyable trip, and returned to Newcastle where, on arrival, I was paged to call at the desk to be told to return immediately to Doxford's and on doing so I was relieved of the cine film which was to be sent back to Australia for the MD's use. This becoming a very well travelled film. This film is now deposited with the museum and the reason the Contract's Manager could not attend was that he was busy on the 58-JS3 Engine contracted to Appledore, the engine type which is on show at Beamish. The Seahorse Engine was responsible for some of the design features of the three cylinder engine.

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