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Hitting the off switch

It’s the end of an era as veteran tradesman retires after 62 years, and he’ll enjoy his freedom by travelling around Scotland in his motorhome

SELECT’s most northerly mainland Member has hung up his trusty pliers and retired after 62 years on the tools.

Bob Hampton has spent the past three decades running his own electrical business in the remote village of Tongue near Thurso, Sutherland.

Life in the north-west of Scotland is a long way from the West Midlands, where the teenager started his apprenticeship back in the 1950s.

Bob, who is originally from Wythall, near Birmingham, told CABLEtalk: “I began my training aged 16 in 1959. Back then, lead sheathed cables had just gone out of use but we were still connecting into them using Scruit porcelain connectors!

“After serving my time I moved on to broaden my experience, working at a plumbing and heating firm and a refrigeration company before joining some of my colleagues to set up an air conditioning business.”

When the firm was taken over in 1990, Bob moved north of the border, settling in Tongue and buying the village’s sub-post office.

“After just over 60 years in the trade it’s not easy to switch off, but I’m now getting used to ‘safe isolation’ ”

He revealed: “My wife and I had spent lots of time in Scotland, so we looked round for a business to buy and found the post office. However, when people realised I had electrical skills I was soon in demand as there wasn’t another electrician for 40 miles. I never dreamed I would become an electrical contractor but that’s how it turned out, so we sold the post office.”

After setting up Tongue Electrics, Bob spent the next 28 years serving the local community, carrying out a mix of domestic, commercial and agricultural work.

He said: “When I started in Tongue, there were a lot of new houses, so I did a lot of fitting out, as well as council repairs and refurbishments. I enjoyed it because every day was different.”

With the help of the Scottish Electrical Charitable Training Trust (SECTT), Bob trained two apprentices and became a SELECT Member in June 2000.

He said: “I felt SELECT was right for me and it’s been really useful over the years. The regular meetings helped me keep contact with the trade and the technical advice was great – I was using it right up until I retired. I enjoyed the Toolbox Talks too, plus the training kept me up to date.”

After winding down his business, Bob now plans to spend his new-found freedom travelling Scotland in his motorhome.

He said: “I’ve had around six weeks off the tools now and haven’t really missed it, so I know the time is right. COVID-19 had an impact over the past 18 months, although I was able to carry out a few new installations.”

He added: “I’d just like to say thanks to SELECT for all their advice and support over the years. After just over 60 years in the trade it’s not easy to switch off, but I’m now getting used to ‘safe isolation’.”


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