Bonar Long Apprentice

I started my apprenticeship at Bonar Long in 1962. I started in the transformer test department and I was the last 5 year apprentice when during my last year these were reduced to 4 year apprenticeships. I eventually became Chief of Test and Inspection.In 1979 I accepted the position as Chief Engineer in a joint venture, being set up by Bonar Long, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. That was an exciting project as it started from a green field site. We supervised building the factory, equipped it and then trained the local staff. In 1980 I also appointed Works Manager.

Returning to Dundee in 1985 coincided with Bonar Long being taken over by National Industry of Norway and I was given responsibility for managing a large investment programme at the plant. We became part of the ABB group in 1988.

I then held various positions including Operations Manager and Business Manager. In 2001 I was invited to go to Tanzania to be Managing Director of their transformer and switchgear factory.

I am still there but in 2007, after 45 years with the company, ABB decided to sell their interest in Tanzania. That was taken over by a large Kenyan investment group who asked me to stay on and manage the company, and I accepted. so as I write this I have now been in the transformer industry for 47 years.I still, however have many fond memories of working at the Dundee plant and I made many good friends there and it saddened me when the plant was closed and I think back to the days before me when the Bonar's and the Long's first set up the company which went on to become one of the foremost transformer manufacturers in the UK and provided some much needed employment.That is all in the past now and when I visited Dundee last year all there was to show for all that history was a levelled site. I have so many memories from the past and perhaps when I retire soon I should write a book about these so that history is recorded of the good old days at Bonar Long.


Submitted by Ian Robertson