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Vic, one-time engineer, meets his former instructor

Comedian Vic Reeves bumped into his old apprenticeship instructor during a day out at his old stamping ground in County Durham.

Vic was touring training establishments as part of the Apprenticeship Week celebrations when he caught up with David Allison at the National Railway Museum in Darlington.

Mr Allison, who knew the entertainer at 16 by his real name of Jim Moir, showed him photographs taken on the shop floor when he was an engineering apprentice at South West Durham Training.

He was born in Leeds and brought up in Darlington, and entered the world of work before his apprenticeship as a part-time pig castrator.

Vic, 49, said: "It was fantastic to see David again and catch up on old times. I was an apprentice for five years and completed my indentures. We specialised in making train brake regulators.

"What surprised me was that I thought it would be all on computers by now but actually I saw people using the same kind of tools I used when I was an apprentice, lathes and so on. They have to understand how it works before they move on to the computers.

"I moved to a job as an inspector in an aircraft factory in Croydon. That was good money. My friends were on about pound;40 or pound;50 a week. I got pound;240.

"As an apprentice, the pay was rubbish to start with, about pound;16-a-week I think, but it gradually got better."

Vic had been a star trainee and won an award for having the "best kept log book of the year."

His tour also included South Tyneside College, Bishop Auckland College and a centre at Beamish which restores Aston Martins.

His own engineering skills are yet to be deployed in his TV work but he claims he uses his practical skills "a bit" round the house.

He has friends who, like himself, found new horizons, including one who went overseas on missionary work. "I"don't know what happened to them all," he said. "They all fled."

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