My History
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My Work History.
Before joining South West Trains in June 2004, I took a temporary job in a call centre. In my last main job I had been a customer service manager in a bingo club where I had many varied responsibilities including looking after the customers, cash handling, stock control, and staff training. This line of work was fun although sometimes hectic. I worked here from October 1987 to October 2002. Earlier, I spent sixteen years as a bus conductor, on both country and city services. I really enjoyed this job and would happily have carried on doing it had this been possible, but then I would have missed out on so much more.
Variety and Flexibilty.
Although I haven't had a structured career, I have a wide range of experience both in employment and outside the working environment. I've often had to work unsupervised and have been given responsibilities from the earliest times. With the exception of the period at the end of my employment with Southampton City Transport, I have a good attendance record and have always been flexible in what I do and when I do it.
Now retired , I regularly go out for walks on which I often challenge myself to go further and faster.
See Walking Routes for more.
Not working weekends means I can get to bus rallies to ride on and take photos of old buses.
See Bus Photos for more.
After passing the 11-plus I went to Peter Symonds' Grammar School in Winchester from the age of 11 until I was 16, in 1965. I left with GCE O'level passes in maths, English language, French, Spanish, art and Latin. While working in bingo I took courses in supervision and training as well as attending sessions on employment law and gaming legislation. In addition, in order to be licensed by the local justices to sell intoxicating liquor, I needed to pass a BII exam and hold the necessary certificate.
Peter Symonds 05/09/1960 to 23/07/1965
Early work history 1965-1967.
After leaving school at the age of 16, in 1965, I worked in three clerical jobs spread over two years. These were a filing clerk at Southern Counties Agricultural Society (SCATS) in Winchester, a cost clerk for Warrens printers also in Winchester, and the last was with Eagle Star Insurance in Southampton. However, I was unable to find one to really suit me and in 1967 I decided to look for an alternative direction.
26/07/1965 to 29/09/1967
Bus conductor 1967-1975.
In 1967 I joined the Hants & Dorset bus company in Winchester, as a bus conductor. This was intended to be a temporary job but I found I enjoyed it too much to look for anything else. In 1969 I moved to Southampton, staying with the company. As well as taking fares I had to generally look after passengers, giving information and assistance as required. We had no two-way radios or mobile phones in those days and conductors were expected to take charge of any situation which arose, including traffic accidents where we were often the first people on the scene. From early on I was involved in staff training and often took new drivers out for their first few days. I also worked, often at short notice, from other depots.
02/10/1967 to 18/01/1975
Bus conductor 1975-1983.
In 1975 I left Hants & Dorset to join Southampton City Transport, mostly for a better basic pay. I was forced to take (very) early retirement in 1983 when persistent knee problems seriously affected my ability to work in this job.
03/03/1975 to 30/06/1983
Click here to find out more in
Hold Tight!
My life as a bus conductor
After leaving Southampton City Transport through knee problems, it took a while before I could walk properly. Having some savings and a lump sum payment, I decided to take a year off, not registering as unemployed. I spent the time travelling in Britain and on the continent, walking as much as possible. I also bought my first home computer and learned to write my own software. It's important to have interests outside work.
Schemes for the Deaf 1984-1985.
I had the opportunity to join a community programme project, Schemes for the Deaf, raising awareness of the needs of hearing impaired people as they go about their daily lives. For this we were given training in presentations and help from members of the deaf community. In the beginning, I was one of those sent out to seek appointments. This project was designed to give unemployed people the chance to gain useful work experience and to give something to the community while looking for permanent employment. As part of a small team or on my own, I gave presentations to groups including staff and management in shops and offices, informal talks to small groups and on one occasion I was guest speaker at a Rotary Club lunch. At times I was required to act as a team leader, helping others to develop their confidence. Many of those on the scheme had never held a long term employment or had been unemployed for several years.
21/11/1984 to 27/09/1985
During this period, I took an active part in local politics, having been asked to help a former work colleague standing for the city council. I had no previous experience of politics and my views are rather fluid but I soon found myself co-opted onto a ward committee as secretary. In 1986 I was asked to stand as a candidate and came second. This was a very interesting and busy period and I gained an insight into the workings of both local and national politics, being able to meet many people from all walks of life in the process. The need to get back to paid work was too strong and I decided to withdraw from political activity.
Mecca Bingo 1987-2002.
I worked as a customer service manager in the local Mecca Bingo club in Portswood, Southampton until October 2002, having joined Mecca in October 1987. I started as a customer service assistant and barman, then became a supervisor, since when I worked in every department. I had responsibility, working with the supervisors and other managers, for ensuring customers enjoyed their visit and for staff training, maintaining standards, buying and controlling stock and keeping records. My responsibilities also included looking after an arcade of slot machines, having previously run the cash and prize bingo department (twice) and reception and memberships department. I was also the relief caller. I took courses in Skills of Supervision and as a Craft Trainer. I also passed a BII exam to enable me to hold a licence to sell intoxicating liquor. For the final two years, in addition to my other responsibilities, I oversaw the administration department. The administrator was responsible for issuing floats, collecting cash from each department, banking, paying wages, maintaining employee records, controlling purchases and preparing management reports. This role required complete control of all cash within the building while supervising all departments and every level of management. In this business, a small team of staff, supervisors and management needed to work together, sometimes overlapping jobs and responsibilities. I often worked in three or four departments in one day. I had responsibility for health and safety and fire training, including drills and inspections, an important matter when dealing with several hundred customers and staff.
09/10/1987 to 27/10/2002
Year Off 2002-2003.
Once I had decided to leave Mecca Bingo, I looked at the sort of work I would like to do. I chose South West Trains as an employer and ticket office or revenue protection as jobs. One of the reasons for leaving, and there were several, had been a desire for more free time. I planned to take a break during the summer of 2003 and then apply for a position in the autumn. I enjoyed the freedom to choose what to do and the opportunity to visit more places of local interest. And quite a few days at the the beach. Good practice for when I finally retire!
Blue Arrow Personnel at British Gas 2003-2004.
Following my year off after leaving Mecca, I took a temporary job answering the phones at the British Gas call centre in Southampton for seven months. The job included explaining bills, correcting meter readings, taking debit card payments and promoting additional products.
24/10/2003 to 28/05/2004
South West Trains 2004-2009.
I left Blue Arrow to join South West Trains as a Ticket Office Clerk, the employer and one of the jobs I had selected before leaving Mecca. This position included selling tickets and advising on routes and fares. Resolving problems and adapting to changing circumstances were key abilities. I took voluntary redundancy after almost five years, wishing I had joined sooner.
14/06/2004 to 25/04/2009
Time on my hands . . . . and on my feet.
I left South West Trains in April 2009.
I've always enjoyed going for walks and I've now taken that a stage further, going out several times a week on a variety of routes. I still have pain in my joints and I sometimes seem to have more toes than toenails but I think it's worth it. Back on the buses too - I attend a number of bus rallies and vintage bus running days each year. Why not follow me in Walking Routes Diary, Bus Photos and on social media.
26/04/2009 to present
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