Tommy Allen

Mechanical Fitting Technician

Tommy's job title is Mechanical Fitter Apprentice at Merlin Entertainment’s Chessington World of Adventures Resort

What I do

We have 28 rides and attractions at Chessington World of Adventures Resort, and I am one of the team responsible for them. Whether it is a climbing frame in a playground or the big rollercoaster, Dragon’s Fury, which covers half of the park, I keep everything running safely and smoothly.

Tommy with a rollercoaster

How I became a technician

At school I did the usual subjects, but I enjoyed maths and sciences the most. After I left school at 16, I went to college to do a Level 2 in General Engineering and then a Level 2 in Electrical Engineering. Whilst I was doing that, I was working at Chessington, attending and operating the rides. I spoke to one of the engineers and asked him how to get into his line of work. He told me about the apprenticeship scheme they have. I first went for it at 19, but I didn’t get it, so I worked hard, got a portfolio together and applied a second time and got it. I was very proud of that. It’s what I have always wanted to do.

A typical day in my
working life

A little more about
my everyday role

What I love most about my job

I love the technical side and understanding how things work. From a young age, I have always loved taking things apart and putting them back together again – and I still do. I’m doing my dream job!

The best bits about working in a team

In the mornings, opening up the rides involves a lot of teamwork, and you split up the work between you. Over winter, when the park closes, lots of maintenance happens and so even more teamwork is involved as the rides need to be dismantled, stripped apart, cleaned, inspected and put back together again. For the bigger rides, it can take from November to March to complete all the work. Everyone supports each other.

My favourite tool

The favourite tool I use is a hydraulic press. It has a small piston, but it can generate 20 to 30 tonnes of force. It’s a good bit of kit to use. I use it for wheel bearings, as they must be pressed into place - they cannot be hammered.

What I wear to work

It all depends on the weather. In the summer we have work shorts, with lots of pockets for our tools. In the winter we have long trousers and fleeces. We wear steel-toe-capped boots, safety glasses, hearing protection and often high-vis too. We have to wear hard hats if we are working underneath anything, or if a crane is assisting us.

The skills I use most

Attention to detail is key as I have to look at everything in detail and we cannot miss anything.

Logical thinking is also important in this role as we occasionally get technical difficulties with some of our rides, and we need to get them running safely as quickly as possible. Having a logical approach to problem solving is vital. I will come up with a list of possible causes and work my way down the list until I find what’s causing it. Being technologically minded is also handy, as all of our big rollercoasters have mechanical, electrical, hydraulic and pneumatic systems all incorporated into one. So knowing all the systems and how they work together is important.

The next steps in my career journey

I would like to gain more skills, such as a forklift licence. I would like to stay at Chessington and progress further here. Finally getting to do my dream job makes me really happy. I really enjoy being here every day.

The advice I'd give to
someone younger

If you get a knock-back, don’t give up. If you have a goal in mind, stick with it. Every time you add to your portfolio is one step closer to your dream. I knew what I wanted to do, but it took me a while to get here as I didn’t get an apprenticeship the first time I tried. But I kept going and worked hard to achieve my goal. It also doesn’t have to be done through A-levels and university. You can achieve your dreams through different routes.

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