ICI Discoverer Camp of 1966

Further to the post by Jeff Taylor of the ICI Discoverer Camp of 1965, here is a photograph of the Discoverer Camp of 1966.

For those not familiar with ICI and it’s apprentice/youth trainee schemes, the Discoverer Course was character building and a pre-cursor of the team building events held today.
The course was held at a tented camp at Ingleby Greenhow. The term “Discoverer” meant that over the two-week period of the course, both the ICI youth management team and ourselves, were to discover what leadership, decision making and team working skills we possessed, if any. The participants on the course were 17 and 18 year-old apprentices and process youths from both ICI Billingham and Wilton, who had to put themselves forward for selection for the two week course. At the camp we were divided into teams and then coached in outward-bound skills by a team of Instructors, Jeff Taylor being one of them. The head Instructor was Frank Sterret, seated front centre, he was one of the youth training managers at ICI Billingham.

The activities we were engaged in, included, rock climbing and abseiling on the Wainstones, forestry skills, that included tree felling and retrieval, with Forestry Commission staff and constructing timber structures, as can be seen in the photograph back left, we also did night hikes and a three day hike, where we were given a set of map coordinates with which we had to hike to a given destination. To prove we had plotted our route correctly, we had to leave evidence of our “visit” at the said coordinates, like leaving a note under a pile of stones, which was checked out later by the Instructors. During these hikes we had to sleep out in bivouacs that we had to make from branches, heather and bracken.

There were also plenty of onsite activities, including, kitchen duties, cooking on old army stoves with the camp cook, Bert Blackmore and cleaning out the latrines, I can still smell the Racasan fluid now !!. And who can ever forget the early morning “Wakey! Wakey!” call for the cross country run, ending with a crawl through a stream culvert and finally the ice cold shower. I also can remember returning home after the course was finished feeling totally knackered and sleeping for the whole weekend. What great days, we were very lucky young men to have the opportunities that ICI afforded us.

I have tried to name as many of the ICI Billingham participants as possible, apologies for any incorrect or missing names… but it was 55 years ago!!

Photograph and details courtesy of Mick Haines.

13 thoughts on “ICI Discoverer Camp of 1966

  1. I was also a discoverer. About 1976 onwards. I remember Al Hart. Steve Bullock was my instructor for the courses which set me up for the rest of my career, god bless ICI 😊


  2. Hello everyone this is Mick Armstrong thank you for the complements on the training I was responsible for providing to Instrument apprentices and adults all those years ago.
    I went on to manage the Workshops and central Engineering Resources at Billingham ICI before moving to Wilton as Personnel Manager of the Polyester Business but I will never forget that time in the Training Centre at Billingham I loved that job.
    I am still going strong in the Catholic Club at Billingham and would love to see anyone from those days and reminisce over a pint or two.


      • Hi Craig,
        I don’t think I know you but I started serving my apprenticeship in 1967 as a Turner. One of the lads in my year / trade was a David (Booner) Brown. Would you know if this is the same Booner. If so would love to know what happened to him after we were all made redundant after coming out of our time ?.


        • Dave
          The “booner” your talking about is a different chap, I remember him from the machine shop where I had the pleasure of being the last of the messenger boys! he had a very pretty sister who worked in ADO typing pool as I recall, your name is familiar…. can’t quite place you… I knew most of the men there as I delivered all the internal mail, and went to the canteen every morning for the pasties and sausage rolls, I look back fondly on those days.


          • Hi Craig,
            Thanks for replying. I started ICI as a messenger boy 06/06/66 in Oil Works. Then served my time as a turner. Made redundant in 1971 then managed to rejoin in 1975 till retirement. Mmmmmmmm I remember those 10d pasties, to die for.


  3. I see Paul Hendry is in the picture. Him and John Fletcher were involved with the course.
    In a earlier message I said it was Jack Hart, instead it was Al Hart – a real character


  4. I did the silver and gold discoverer – still got the badges. Late 60s
    Also we went to Patterdale in the Lake District
    Served an apprentice as a fitter, made redundant in 1971.
    Enjoyed the courses. John Fletcher, Paul Hendry, Jack Hart were instructors
    Went into health care, until retirement
    ICI were ahead of their time, as I found out when I joined the NHS


  5. I worked with Bill Bettinson out in West Africa for a couple of years in the late eighties, he was working as an electrical instructor in a training school for Nigerian nationals…..I was the Instrument Superintendent on the commissioning side of the project, we had lots of good times in those days. Mick Armstrong was instrumental in getting me there as he was responsible for the excellent training provided by ICI back in the day…..none of us appreciated just how good that training was at the time of course…..I haven’t seen Bill for many years but I believe Mick is still going strong and still a patron of the Catholic Club in Billingham…..


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