C. Anderson and Sons Plumbing and Heating of London
C. Anderson & Sons Plumbing & Heating London
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I started in this industry back in 1965 when I was 15 years old, as a plumber’s mate. I couldn’t start my apprenticeship until I was 16, which I did with a local plumbing company in Bangor, County Down. My wages were £1 and 10 shillings a week, which was the going rate. I could also earn an extra half a crown if I came in on a Saturday to wash the van and the Boss’s car. If any small jobs came in I would be dispatched with a bag of tools on a push bike to carry out repairs. Everything got repaired including ball valves and taps.


I Started by accident ,I had planned to be an electrician, on my way to an interview with the 

Northern Ireland Electric Board I met a school friend who suggested I become an apprentice plumber instead and he got me an interview in the Company he was working in. I was thrilled an apprenticeship was a big thing.


My earliest memory as an apprentice plumber was working with one of the old school plumbers, who would ask me for a particular tool once, and once only: After that he expected me to know exactly what tool he wanted at a given moment without saying a word. It was one way of making sure I paid attention to what he was doing!


One of my pleasures was firing up the paraffin blowtorch, which involved pumping the torch after it had a reached a certain temperature. Misjudge the temperature and it could shoot out flames up to ten feet in one direction, great fun but it probably wouldn’t go down well with modern health and safety!


Fittings and tubing was a lot heavier in those days and one of the first things you had to learn was to do a copper joint, from copper to lead, lead was still used as piping in a lot of houses. 


A year and half later I moved to a larger company in Belfast, which involved more work with central heating AND plumbing. After a short space of time, while I was still an apprentice  I was made a member of a team of 4, who were given the job of fitting a solid fuel back boiler, normally a Parkray, into the existing fire place, fitting 6-7 radiators and providing all the pipework etc. This also involved changing a cylinder from direct to indirect with very basic controls. We would start this early in the morning and have a complete system up and running by evening. Belfast was becoming a smokeless zone , so we carried out 5 of these jobs a week . I attend college at Newtownards Technical Colleg ,Bangor Technical College and  Millfield College in Belfast between 1966 – 1970.


Significant change


The introduction of  Combi boilers which took off in the late 70’s and early 80’s which generally replaced storage tanks / water and converting households to mains water supply only.

The introduction of showers and power showers gradually reduced the popularity of baths .

Introduction of condensing boilers with their greater efficiency 

Recent Smart technology controls are expanding rapidly and are changing how we control our heating and hot water- remotely with the use of the internet

Plumbing has become very trendy with reports of City Workers and college graduates all wanting to become plumbers. Reports in the press of huge wages has flamed this.



Challenging Times


We have survived 4 recessions from the Oil crisis in the 70’s to the last big recession in 2008.

These were very challenging times when we had to cut back on staff and carry out a lot of work for very little return.

Another key challenge was the introduction of new gas regulations in the late 90’s . Putting staff through the training was a costly business which meant a shortage of qualified people at that period of time.


I believe that apprentices are the life line of the industry and I have always given people the opportunity to excel themselves in the plumbing. Over the 25 years we have been based in Filmer  Road  I can safely say that C Anderson & Sons have led the way in regards to development and training apprentices in Plumbing and Heating.

I believe very strongly that apprentices should do their best and  have 100% commitment to carrying out tasks.  Plumbing is a great trade to have and once qualified nobody can take it away from you.

50 years   from now I would like to see C Anderson & Sons LLP providing a professional service with highly qualified people taking advantage of all the new modern ideas, but still run within a family business who can only offer  that kind of customer care.




The APHC have been fantastic in my opinion they have kept in touch with the grass roots of the plumbing industry. One of the benefits of membership has been the insurance and the legal help line. Very re-assuring when you are in a stressful situation.


I would like the APHC to continue to help the plumbing industry by being there for the plumber who works alone and small businesses as well as the big Industrial Plumbing Companies


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