- Emergency gas engineer Michael Hill hangs up his PPE for the last time
- Michael, 70, first joined the industry in 1974
- Michael’s beat has included London Bridge, White Chapel and Park Lane
A long serving gas engineer is hanging up his PPE after over 46 years in the industry.
Until his recent retirement Michael Hill, 70, who worked from Cadent’s Barnet depot, was out and about doing the rounds as an FCO (First Call Operative) answering emergency gas call-outs.
It bought to a close a career in the gas industry that first began back in 1974 when Michael joined British Gas aged 24. Prior to this he had been working in demolition, a job he was not enjoying, when a friend suggested he apply to the gas industry.
Michael began on a starting salary of £55 per week which was a big step up from the £32 he earned in his previous job, which enabled him to save up to get married to his wife Christine in 1975.
Michael, who also lives in the Barnet area, said: “I’ve been covering far and wide from London Bridge to White Chapel to Park Lane – a million roads!”
Reflecting on the early days Michael said: “Back then I was working on putting gas mains in and it was a lot of hard graft. We didn’t have any of the tools and technology we use now with no real focus on safety. The machinery we use these days to dig up the roads and suck out rubble didn’t exist, so it was a lot more labour intensive. You did the job end to end but I loved it. We worked hard but we also had a great social circle and would round each week off with a game of pool and a pint”
Memorable experiences in Michael’s career included being dragged behind a car when he was working late one night holding a handheld lamp which was attached to a cable.
He recalled: “A lady pulled up in her car to ask if she was okay to drive past, which I gave her the go ahead for, not knowing her car was caught up in my lamp cable.
“Next thing I know I’m being dragged down the road by this lady’s car. I was pretty cut up and had to have a tetanus jab and had a week off work. Nowadays we wear much better protective clothing and have spotlights on our vans so that wouldn’t happen.”
He added: “It was hard work but it keeps you fit!”
For Michael the customer always had to come first, he commented: “The focus on our customers has always been there as long as I’ve worked in the gas industry. We’re providing them an important service and keeping them safe.”
Michael is looking forward to spending his retirement with gardening and being chief babysitter for his grandchildren, he quipped: “My wife has no sense of smell so it will be down to me to check my grandson’s nappies!” “
Network Supervisor Paul Musslewhite said: “I never saw Michael unhappy at work. He was definitely a great role model for our engineers. I can honestly say this man would put a smile on anybody’s face as soon as you met him.”
“I would like to thank Michael for all he did during his time with us and wish Michael all the best for the future.”