|18 Nov 2020|
I was a border at Junior House and then Westwood. House masters Spud Marsden and Peter Hill encouraged my interest in the world at large and in the 1960's I worked at a number of remote locations including Rodrigues Island in the Indian Ocean.
The Cable and Wireless cable station, established in 1902 as part of the Eastern Extension, Australasia and China Telegraph Company imperial cable route from Australia to Britain is shown in the photo. This closed in the 1970s.
The only electricity on the island was at the cable station. One outside light was left on each night, as this had, at some point, saved the lives of a shipwrecked crew passing the island in a lifeboat. The link to the rest of the world was a ship that came to the island three or four times a year and carried freight and passengers to and from Mauritius. It was the end of the colonial era and in the 1960s Mauritius and Seychelles, where I also worked, became independent countries.
For the small Arabian Gulf states, the 1970s was a period of rapid development. I worked in Bahrain, Qatar and Dubai. The infrastructure in Dubai, in particular, was inadequate for the rate of change. Inbound cargoes were held up for weeks by the backlog of ships waiting to dock. Working on the 5th floor of a building, commissioning international communications, before the lifts were installed and the upper floors completed, was a challenge!
I moved to New Zealand for a more settled life with a young family in the 1980s, expanding my interests from telecommunications to the outdoor world of forestry and wetland restoration. I keep in touch with a couple of Westwood OIs and appreciate reading OI news.
Robin Chesterfield OI (1955-1962)