John Balchin talks about how he came to get his position as General Manager in Stevenage
“And I thought he was talking to me about my frozen pension so I went in there and after we’d exchanged pleasantries he said, ‘would you like to be general manager of Stevenage Jack?’ and I said ‘what?!’”
I liked the academic life but, I had applied for unsuccessfully for two or three general managerships one was at Basingstoke, which wasn’t a statutory new town but there was the same idea. One was at Washington in Durham, perhaps it was only two, but I didn’t get them and then of course they advertised this Stevenage job and what in fact happened was, happened then and happened today is that when a principal post is advertised in addition to relying on normal advertising machinery. Men are trawled as they call it and persons are asked, do you know, persons in a senior position do you know of anyone who would be suitable for this job and the function of the trawl is to make sure any such person deemed to be suitable for the job is then advised about it and invited to apply. And this is what happened and I don’t know where the request came from but my controller of the council at the, yeah, at the Greater London Council rang me up at Brunel and said oh Jack he said next time you are in London call in will you, I want to talk to you. And I thought he was talking to me about my frozen pension so I went in there and after we’d exchanged pleasantries he said, “would you like to be general manager of Stevenage Jack?” and I said “what”, so he said the job has been advertised you see, and I’ve been asked who I knew who would be, might be interested you see. He said I’ve got two names he said and yours was one of them, but he said I didn’t want to bother to put the name forward if now you are in university you want to come out of it you see. Oh I said no I have always been interested in new towns. My job for the Greater London Council to act as liaison with all the new towns the expanding towns for knew them all fairly well but not been to them all and so that’s it. I applied for the job they decided that I was ok.