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Lathes and Metal Work

Lathe and metal work training gave the blind veterans a chance to earn a good wage.

Lathe and metal work

Metal work was introduced to St Dunstan's during the Second World War.

A machine shop was set up at Church Stretton to train blind veterans and the industrial hut included a capstan lathe, a router and an outfit for upholstery. Those with a higher aptitude learnt to operate the lathers, drills and presses with something of a normal factory atmosphere and background noise.

Most blind veterans that received lathe and metal work training often had a job lined up before they finished. The men not only earnt a good wage but enjoyed the camaraderie and social activities that came with working with sighted men.

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Some men had the advantage of previous experience, for example Stoker Petty Officer Richard Dufton. He was blinded in action just as he was completing a special two year Mechanicians Course but that didn't hold him back. He went on to become the Chief Designer at Miles Martin Pen Company and produced the 'Biro' ball point pen.

He worked with a braille dictionary of metals and a set of special precision instruments that St Dunstan's supplied. In 1960 he gained his Associate Membership of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and in March 1961 was appointed Director of Research at St Dunstan's.

Over one hundred men were working in factories by the end of 1942 and the number steadily increased as the war went on as did the range of jobs taken on.

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