Newsletter 2015 – Edition number 17

Please click on the title Newsletter 2015 above to open the full document with the index and on any picture in this newsletter to open a larger image.

Peter Turrall, MVA Chairman

New Street

New Street, January 2015

According to recent reports from our local newspaper The Essex Chronicle, Chelmsford City Council is contemplating changing the dozen or so large brown signs on all the entries to our county town of Chelmsford which state ‘Chelmsford the Birthplace of Radio’. These signs of course refer to our own Marconi Company and certainly make visitors and residents aware that history was made in this city many years ago.

The suggestion is for new signs to portray Hylands House, a good mile out of the city, which does not give any indication of Chelmsford’s major industrial past. It was Marconi and other major industries such as Hoffmann, Crompton, Clarkson and Christy who put Chelmsford on the map, fostering its development from a sleepy market town with a population of 30,000 citizens in the early 1900s, to a major industrial centre. This gave employment to thousands and a start to other enterprises to set up shops and offices to cater for the needs of an increasing population which has now reached nearly 200,000.

Already strong comments have been made by local residents and ex-Marconi personnel to both the city council and the local newspapers stating that the signs should cover Chelmsford’s industrial achievements especially as Marconi in Chelmsford was the start of worldwide wireless communications and other associated engineering achievements.

It is unfortunate that our city council does not highlight the industrial past of Chelmsford, which in itself, if portrayed correctly, is an enormous tourist attraction. Apart from the museum in Oaklands Park and, way out of the city, Sandford Mill, and a Marconi statue hidden behind the local bus station, there is nothing in the city centre illustrating the achievements of these world renowned organisations. It has been suggested to the city council that a kiosk giving information about local attractions of historical interest and where to find them could be sited opposite the Shire Hall in the city centre. At the moment this suggestion has not been acted on.

The Marconi New Street building, which has for over one hundred years been the centre point of all major visits to the company, is now in good shape having been modernised and the front gardens spruced up. This building will shortly be used by an unknown pharmaceutical company as their headquarters. To date it has not been possible to contact this organisation with the hope that the Marconi Veterans Association could utilise one of the areas to portray the history of the company and/or display some of the products manufactured in the original factory. (Photo taken on 29th January, just before four workmen in hard hats and grubby high-vis jackets together with a heavy load fork-lift carrying a mini-skip turned up at the front door)

Campaign to save Hall Street works, Chelmsford

There is very good news in the ongoing campaign to get a sustainable and viable presentation of Marconi Heritage content in the original Marconi factory in Hall Street in Chelmsford. As the first wireless factory in the world it is of international significance and can therefore justify support as a site of special heritage interest. Many of you will be aware of the recent considerable media interest in this initiative.

Although the whole building has been subject to a successful planning application for residential development negotiations with the owners are underway with a view to acquiring the ground floor for the creation of a community/heritage asset, and the Marconi Heritage Group is working with the Moulsham and Central Chelmsford Community Trust to get this underway and to raise finance for this opportunity.  We are convinced that a successful application can be made to the Heritage Lottery Fund but we have to find matching funding and initially pay the costs to set up a trust body to carry out the necessary work – the full amount required for purchase and fitting-out is of the order of £1.5 million.  To start us off we need a fighting fund of a few thousand, and then go after substantial contributions to the full amount.

We are therefore planning on launching both national and worldwide appeals for support, as from the earliest days the Marconi companies traded in an international market, and setting up an online crowd-funding site to collect donations.  We are a currently a small group and will need additional help with the back-office work in running the appeals and the trust, so both those local boots-on-the-ground and those able to use the internet are invited to contact us through our website or by personal means to give us an idea of what support we can get.

With your help we can be confident of gaining a facility to ensure the deserved and continued recognition of the work of our founder coupled with that of the many thousands who served in the companies as researchers, skilled tradesmen, professional engineers and operators, which laid the foundations of the modern world.

Reunion 2015 – an invitation from our secretary

February 2015

Dear Fellow Veteran

First, let me wish all Veterans a healthy and prosperous 2015.

I would like to take this opportunity to welcome all new members to the Association and hope to see them at the Annual Reunion, which will be held on Saturday 18th April 2015.  This will be the 79th Reunion and the venue will be the Marconi Social Club, Beehive Lane, Chelmsford, where there is ample parking for those who travel by road. The Bar is within the Main Hall (on the right as you enter the Club) and will open at 11.00 a.m.

There will be various displays and the merchandise table will, again, be located in the hall. You will have plenty of time to enjoy meeting up with colleagues until it is time to take your seats for the luncheon. This will take place, as usual, at 1.00 p.m. with the Annual General Meeting and the Raffle concluding the proceedings. Any changes will be advised to you with your ticket. If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to ring me on the above number.

We are, again, producing a commemorative Coaster and one per person is included in the ticket price. There will also be additional coasters, for sale, plus some coasters from previous years as well as a number of Ties, Scarves and Badges.

Our President for 2015 is Veteran Basil Francis who, for many years, was Chief of the Installation Drawing Office of Marconi Communication Systems at New Street, Chelmsford.

Joining the Reunion as our Honoured Guest is John Warwicker M.B.E. who had a varied career as a Metropolitan Police Officer and Close Protection Officer to a number of Prime Ministers. He has also written a number of books covering his professional career….

The menu for this year’s luncheon will be as follows: –
Bruschetta topped with mozzarella, chopped tomato and basil
Chicken Breast, slow cooked in a Red Wine sauce
Chef’s special profiteroles filled with a bailey’s cream and drizzled in chocolate
Coffee, Cheese and Biscuits

We appreciate that some Veterans may have special dietary requirements and would request that you indicate this on your application. We are able to cater for most requirements.

With regard to the Subscription, we are pleased to maintain the rate at £6.00 per annum but, regrettably due to increased cost to us, we must raise the cover price for the Reunion to £25.00. I am sure that you will agree that this is still excellent value for a four course meal with tea/coffee and wine. As the Association has a very limited income, and in order to keep our expenses to a minimum, receipts for Subscriptions and/or Donations will not be issued unless requested so we thank you in anticipation.

Those Veterans who wish to attend are requested to apply to the above address at the earliest possible date in order that I may properly assess the numbers. To reduce administration, please combine your ticket price, subscription, etc. onto a single cheque which should be made payable to ‘Marconi Veterans’ Association’.

Please note that it is not acceptable for guests to bring their own drink or food into the Club. Please refrain from this practice as anyone doing so may be asked to leave the Reunion and could be refused a ticket in the future. As last year, cheese and biscuits are included in our menu and additional bottles of wine can be purchased from the bar.

We often hear comments from Veterans that they would come to the Reunion but are afraid that they “would not know anyone on their table” or that “the speeches are long winded and boring”. If you feel this way, please read my article in last year’s Newsletter, speak to a Veteran who does attend or give me a ring. Then, if you’re still not convinced, try it – if it really isn’t your ‘thing’ then there is no obligation to come again.

Your assistance is requested with the seating arrangements and we ask you to indicate, on your ticket application, with which Company you would prefer to sit (i.e. Comms, Radar, Baddow, Basildon, Marine, MI).

Following a suggestion from a Veteran, we are compiling a list of forenames and nicknames in an effort to make the various lists less formal and enable people to distinguish between Veterans with similar initials. We will, again, be producing self adhesive name tags for you to wear at the Reunion and these will be available for collection at the merchandise table as you enter the Hall. When you order your ticket, please indicate, in the box provided, how you would like your name tag to read. THE DEFAULT WILL BE TO PRINT YOUR NAME AS IT APPEARS ON THE FIRST LINE OF YOUR ADDRESS LABEL.
So please fill in the spaces on the Subscription/Ticket application form.

We are, again, inviting entries for the ‘Absent Friends’ book, containing messages from Veterans who were unable to attend. Two copies will be produced and prominently displayed at the Reunion. If you wish to place a message in the book, please use the space provided on the enclosed form. Entries will be identified by name but no contact details will be provided unless you include them within the message area.

Your Committee is prepared to receive any nominations, propositions or suggestions for submission to the Annual General Meeting. providing they reach me in writing by 31st March 2015.

We now have almost 60 ‘Friends of the Marconi Veterans’ Association’. All ‘Friends’ receive the Newsletter and we will do all we can to keep them in touch with ex-colleagues but they are not eligible to attend the Reunion. The 2015 subscription for Friends is unchanged at £3.00. If you know of anyone who would like to be included, please urge them to contact me, at the above address, as soon as possible.

I am often not informed when a Veteran dies, and in these circumstances, I would like to extend my condolences to members of the families who receive this letter and apologise for any distress or inconvenience caused. Should you be aware of any Veterans who have passed away recently, I would appreciate it if you would let me know so that I can amend our records and avoid any embarrassment.

We trust that you will accept this letter as a very cordial invitation to attend the Seventy-Ninth Reunion, but if, for any reason, you cannot be with us, your Committee would like to take this opportunity to wish you the very best of luck and good health for the future.

Finally, the 2016 Reunion will be on Saturday 16th April

I look forward to seeing you at the Reunion.

With kindest regards

I am yours sincerely

Veteran Barry Powell
E-mail :

For a copy of the Subscription/Ticket application form for downloading and printing please CLICK HERE.  We regret we are no yet able to accept electronic payments.

Chelmsford Science & Engineering Society

Birth of the Signalling War: The Marconi Company’s key role in WW1

by Dr Elizabeth Bruton

Marconi signalling

Members and Visitors are invited by the Chelmsford Science and Engineering Society to a talk on Monday 2nd March at 19:30 at Anglia Ruskin University’s Chelmsford campus.  The talk is in the Marconi Building, Room MAR 001.  Booking for this lecture is not necessary.

Dr Bruton is going to talk about the vital wartime contribution made by the Marconi Company and Marconi Company engineers and staff employed by the British military during World War One.  The focus of the paper will be important developments in wireless communications including radio telephony, wireless interception, and wireless direction-finding and their impact upon the war in land, on air, and at sea.  This talk will also include a local element: the establishment of a signals interception station located in the Hall St. works in Chelmsford.

Further details at

In Memoriam


We regret to report the deaths of the following Veterans and extend our sympathy to the families of those mentioned.

S C Beedie
G S Dunne
T H Kendall
C G Marshall
E T Perkins
J E Viles

This list was correct on 19 January 2015  and supersedes the list published on 10 December 2014.

We have intentionally kept this page as simple as possible and provide no details of the deceased.  However, where we have biographical details of a person and/or funeral details these will be published under the Notices tab.

In memoriam – Reg Awcock

Many of you will be sad to learn of the death of veteran Reg Awcock on 29 December.

The funeral will be held at:

The church of St. John the Baptist, Danbury

on Thursday 22nd January at 1.00 pm.

The church is in the middle of the village and is signposted off the A414 to the south of this road,



In Memoriam


We regret to report the deaths of the following Veterans and extend our sympathy to the families of those mentioned.

R G Greygoose
D M Griffiths
Lady E Telford

This list was correct on  10 December 2014 and supersedes the list published on 29 September 2014.

Lady Telford

Marconi Veterans Association is sad to announce the death on 24th November of Lady Telford, wife of the late Sir Robert Telford who was until his retirement Life President of The Marconi Company.

“Betty Telford” as she preferred to be known had been unwell for several months following a fall in which she broke her leg.  She was at one time an employee of the old MWTCo and was active in sport playing Tennis and Netball for the Company Teams.  She was also an excellent Bridge Player representing the County on many occasions.

The funeral service will be held at All Saints Church, Rettendon on Monday 15th December at 2-30pm and  afterwards at Rettendon House.

Funeral arrangements are being made by Pennack and Sons, Great Baddow.

If anyone wishes to make a donation in Lady Telford’s memory monies should be sent to Pennack and Sons will be distributed to three charities that she supported.

Chelmsford Ideas Festival 2014

This festival runs in Chelmsford from 20 October to 2 November.

As part of the festival, on 29 October there is a talk by Professor Francesco Parasce Marconi, grandson of Guglielmo Marconi, at Anglia Ruskin University.  More details including a link to book tickets can be found at


David Griffiths

david_griffithIt is with great sadness that we have to report the death of David Griffiths on 26 September. David spent most of his working life with Marconi Command and Control and latterly BAE Systems.

He was a member of the Marconi Veterans Association Committee from May 2007 until ill health forced his resignation in March 2011.

One of his great loves was sailing, in later years sailing out of Tollesbury Marina.  If you would like to make a donation in David’s memory or send a message then the family have established a memorial fund at the RNLI, a charity David keenly supported throughout his life. The link is here: