Economy glass (object 6)

BEA glasses

Dad’s BEA glasses

As previously mentioned, my Dad was a watchmaker by trade. He left school at 14 to begin his 7 year apprenticeship, so that he could work to help support his family.  Born in Glasgow in 1913,  the eldest of 6 surviving children (at least 3 others, triplets, died in infancy), staying on at school was not an option even for a bright and bookish boy with a scholarship. He worked as a watchmaker in Glasgow until the outbreak of the second world war, when he spent one day in the army before being recalled. His skills were required for the  maintenance of those delicate instruments in aeroplane cockpits. Watchmaking was decreed a reserved profession and, to his deep disappointment, he was denied the opportunity to fight the fascists directly in combat.
After the war, Dad went back to watchmaking, and moved to London, where in 1956 he followed his bothers to work for British European Airways at Heathrow. He was a maintenance engineer there for the rest of his working life, until his reluctant retirement in 1978. He continued with watchmaking on the side, mending clocks and watches for neighbours and friends in his tiny workshop up in the attic. As a child I used to love sitting and watching him in that dark cosy space that smelt of sawdust and cleaning fluids, the poster of Botticelli’s Venus tacked to the wall, his big calloused fingers handling the tiniest watch parts with such dainty precision.
Having a Dad who worked for BEA meant that we were able to fly to many places very cheaply; being a communist family we mostly went to Soviet countries such as Hungary and Bulgaria, quite an adventure back in the 1960s. There were other perks too: our hallway, for example, was lined with an old red aeroplane carpet. In 1974, BEA merged with BOAC to form British Airways, so all the old BEA branded stock had to go. We ended up with some of it, including these elegant glasses. It’s astonishing to think that airline passengers, even in Economy, once drank out of real, fine glass – and ate their food from the robust plastic BEA trays that later served our family cat, Frisky, for many years (and which now serve as soap dishes at Brother 2’s house!):

BEA tray

BEA food tray as soap dish


About Hoarder of Babylon

A chartered librarian and curator of my family archives.
This entry was posted in Dad, Tableware. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Economy glass (object 6)

  1. Loui says:

    Thanks Hoarder I was gripped. Wow -objects become backdrops for beautifully described vingnets , what prize tunnels into your past. Lovely stuff. More more more!

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