We regret to announce that Basil Francis, who was our president in 2015, died on 2 May.
Basil joined what was then Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company in 1939 just after war had been declared and worked in the Installation Design Division that had recently been transferred from London to the research centre at Great Baddow. Here he started a Mechanical Engineering course at Mid Essex Technical College but this was interrupted in 1941 when he volunteered for the RAF. Here he gained his wings and flew various aircraft ending up in Burma before being demobbed in 1946.
He returned to MWT in the drawing office and completed his college training. In the DO he moved up eventually becoming head on the Installation Drawing Office at New Street before retiring in 1989.
His funeral was at Chelmsford Crematorium on Wednesday 30th May and afterwards there was a wake at Little Channels Golf Club.
We regret to report the deaths of the following Veterans and extend our sympathy to the families of those mentioned.
Mrs Freda Amos
Mrs Hilda Barwick
A D Marley (Tony)
R W Pendlebury
D W Varney
Mrs Kath Weaver
This list was correct on 19 March 2018 and supersedes the list published on 15 January 2018
We have intentionally kept this page as simple as possible and provide minimal details of the deceased. However, where we have biographical details of a person and/or funeral details these will be published under the Noticestab above.
At the request of some Veterans we have included Given names where these are known to us.
Please click on the title Newsletter 2018 above to open the full document with the index and on any picture in this newsletter to open a larger image.
Peter Turrall, Chairman Marconi Veterans’ Association January 2018
The Marconi Veterans’ annual reunion on 2lst April 2018 at the old Marconi Club site in Beehive Lane Chelmsford will see the introduction of a well-known ex-Marconi stalwart as president of our association -Martyn Clarke- who has been with the Marconi Company since he joined as an apprentice many years ago. We welcome Martyn and his nominated guest of honour Dr Paul Marshall, also an ex Marconi engineer, together with Paul’s wife Jill. Martyn is known for his engineering capabilities whilst with Marconi Communication Systems where he travelled to many places throughout the world demonstrating the Broadcasting Division’s studio equipment including cameras, mixers and outside broadcast vehicles. Martyn can relate some very interesting stories of his visits and the events and problems faced ensuring the Marconi equipment operated to the best of its ability. Many times he met important people including royalty in demonstrating Marconi products. No doubt we will hear some of his stories at the reunion.
Martyn is a very popular veteran and even today, he, together with other ex colleagues, every Monday is at the Chelmsford city industrial museum at Sandford Mill Chelmsford either updating or repairing Marconi studio equipments which at many times throughout the year is demonstrated to the general public.
Please come and support Martyn at our annual reunion on 21st April. Our veterans committee have agreed a very reasonable cost for the three course meal and we are looking for a record attendance. Friends are welcome and perhaps on receipt of this newsletter you could pass this request to anybody you know who wishes to become a veteran or friend of our Marconi Veterans’ Association.
At the reunion we say goodbye but not farewell to Barry Powell who has been our Marconi Veterans‘ secretary since 2005. He has carried out the work of secretary so efﬁciently that in my years as chairman, I have never had to query any of his work or activities. He has operated from home in a very small ofﬁce and although not ex Marconi, his lovely wife Chris has helped him and was always present to assist us when ﬁlling the envelopes to send out our newsletter and invitations for the reunion. We will miss Chris but thank her for her support. Thank you Barry for all your hard work for the association. We will still value your input as a member of the veterans committee.
At the same time as we let Barry have a break, we welcome Colin Fletcher as his replacement secretary. Colin joined our veterans committee over two years ago and he has acted as undersecretary to Ban’y for this period. We are certain Colin will be a valuable asset to our organisation and we wish him well in his new post.
Apart from welcoming you to our 2018 reunion, I hope you will support Colin and also Ken Earney, newsletter editor, with news and views which he can incorporate in our yearly newsletter. Please send these to Ken at any time throughout the year. Meanwhile I wish all veterans the very best for 2018.
The editor’s spot
You may remember that this time last year I spoke about a rather nasty chest infection that meant that Christmas was a bad dream and January was a struggle to get through. Did it show? Looking back on it now, it doesn’t seem to me to have done so. This year has been another nightmare, but for different reasons: I sincerely hope it doesn’t show.
To make up for it, my wife Jackie and I made a most enjoyable visit to Connemara during May, The principal reason was to visit the Marconi transatlantic telegraph station site at Derrigimlah and a number of other Marconi related sites in the area. (Marconi and his assistant George Kemp had spent some time investigating various sites in the west of England and Wales and the west coast of Ireland before homing in on this large area of blanket bog at Derrigimlagh, a few miles south of Clifden in County Galway. Blanket bog gave the best damp soil conditions for the earth plane of the station‘s aerial system, and provided the fuel source, peat, for the boilers producing steam for the site’s electricity supply, and it gave an unrestricted view across the Atlantic to Glace Bay.) Our guide was Shane Joyce, of whom you’ve heard in a number of earlier newsletters. We stayed in Clifden, and during that time Shane and his wife Helen offered us their warm hospitality on a number of occasions. Thanks Helen and Shane.
He has been one of the driving forces in Clifden in securing funding, with the support of Failte Ireland (the Irish tourist board) from the Irish government to instal a hard-surfaced 5km walking trail around the site, with interpretive display panels carrying historical archive photographs to explain to the visitor, at key locations, what they would have been looking at between 1907 and 1921 when the site was in operation. This has tumed the site from a few building foundations and steel remnants in the peat bog into an importa.nt visitor stop on the heritage trail around the ‘Wild Atlantic Way’ on the west coast of Ireland. It is only 500 metres from the spot where Alcock and Brown crash-landed in the bog after the ?rst transatlantic crossing by air from Newfoundland in 1917.
One of the things that I hadn’t really appreciated until this visit was the immense size of the heart of the station’s transmitter, the condenser house (see centre of photo above). A 1.8 microfarad capacitor, charged to in the region of 20,000 volts, comprising 1820 metal plates, each measuring 9m by 3.7m and spaced from each other with an air gap of 30cm, all housed within a building 105m by 22.5m – as long as a football pitch and a third of its width.
This part of Ireland is a delightful place to visit. We spent nine days there, with superb weather which you don‘t expect to get during a stay of this length. The scenery of the Atlantic seaboard of Ireland is beautiful, Clifden is a lovely little town, the folk are very friendly, there are umpteen pubs and restaurants all serving fantastic seafood and traditional Irish music – we loved it, although sometimes a little respite from ‘Whiskey in the jar’ is necessary. Boat trips to local islands, fomwal gardens at Kylemore Abbey, what’s not to love, We stayed Celtic for the rest of our holiday, going on to our daughter and her paltner’s cottage on the Isle of Arran in south-west Scotland.
On a more sombre note, It concerns me that over the last couple of issues the number of obituaries and tributes included to those who have died is rising. I suppose this is inevitable with the advancing age of our membership, but how many reminders of mortality are you happy to see? Let the editor know if you’d prefer a change of emphasis. Another concern is that the content seems to be predominantly from male contributors who have been engineers, often in more senior positions with a distinguished career behind them. It would be good to see more items from the shop floor and the admin departments.
Finally, I’ve decided that this will be my penultimate edition as newsletter editor, so can we have a volunteer to take over from me for the 2020 edition? Taking over from Peter, my first edition was in 2006 and I think it needs a fresh outlook. It’s been a very rewarding experience and I’ve learned quite a lot about the companies’ histories over that time. The most interesting part is following up on the enquiries we receive as the basis for articles, but that can be quite time-consuming, and because, like many I can only knuckle down to a job when a deadline is approaching, January can be a bit hectic – it’s now mid-February and I seriously overshot my delivery date. If a volunteer should come along during the coming year I can brief him or her on how I do it whilst I’m working on the 2019, and, if need be, I will be available to assist and advise the new editor for 2020 edition. Please think about it, and if you’d like to have a crack at it please contact the secretary, Barry Powell, his successor Colin Fletcher (see page 9) or me in the first instance if you’d like to find out a little more about what’s involved.
Ron Wilson – a tribute from Ron Stringer
Born and raised in South Shields, Ron Wilson left his safe position as an apprentice in Swan Hunter’s shipyard to volunteer as a radio operator and was employed by International Marine Radio (IMR) during WW2. There he had a very exciting and incident-ﬁlled time; the story of some of his exploits was posted on the SN site (shipsnoslalgia.com) last year and was also published, in serial form, in the house magazine of the Radio Ofﬁcers Association. After the war he was retained by IMR as a technician and covered the North-East coast ports, installing repairing ships’ radio equipment.
Later he joined MIMCo‘s Newcastle depot and worked for many years as a technician out of the South Shields base, which is I where I met him in I966 when I came ashore. He supervised my initial period of probation and did a fantastic job, as far as I was concerned. He was an excellent, methodical technician, working steadily and logically to track faults and carry out repairs. He was not necessarily the fastest but was always successful and never needed the 2 or 3 visits required by others.
Having started life as an apprentice shipwright, his guidance was invaluable when it came to installation work and there was no trades-foreman in any of the yards on the south side of the river that he didn’t know and didn‘t owe him a favour. Electricians, welders, shipwrights, joiners, all were available at the drop of a hat for Ron. None of the “everyone is working, come back tomorrow morning” that was the answer I usually received when asking for assistance. He was made redundant by MIMCo in one of the many cuts that followed the arrival of the late GG Hill but we kept in touch by letter with occasional visits north by my wife and I, and one visit to our home here in Hatﬁeld Peverel.
As in previous years, a number of letters are from correspondents seeking information about former colleagues, for research into their family history, or for the preparation of articles, books, etc. If no contact detail appears with the letter then please direct your reply or any correspondence for the enquirer to:
Barry Powell, Secretary, Marconi Veterans Association, 22 Juliers Close, Canvey Island, Essex, SS8 7EP; 01268 696342; firstname.lastname@example.org or to the editor,
Ken Earney, 01245 381235; email email@example.com In the majority of cases published below the enquirer has been directed to the comprehensive guide produced by Barry to the online resources which may be helpful with this kind of enquiry. Find it on the MVA website at: http://www.marconi-veterans. org/?page_id=3047/ Enquirers have also been directed to the Bodleian Library.
Certain items in this issue, particularly on this and the next page, are responses to letters or articles appearing in the 2017 edition which have already been posted during the last eleven months on the website. There is thus an inevitable but necessary duplication catering for those Veterans who have no possibility, or wish, to use the internet.
Picking up on mention of the internet, many of the articles now come with links to web pages giving considerably more information on topics than can be included on these pages. For those not internet enabled, may I suggest that you enlist the help of a friend or neighbour who is, or go to your local library – remember those? – to enable you to see the material referred to.
Finally note that, to avoid unnecessary repetition of the Association’s name in full, the initials MVA have in places been used.
Christopher Charles Casperd
From Dr Alan Casperd, 24 February 2017
Dear Veterans Association, my grandfather’s brother was Christopher Charles Casperd, although he changed his surname to Caspard at some point. He is mentioned as one of Marconi’s senior installation engineers in the book ‘A History of the Marconi Company’ by W J Baker. This book uses the surname Caspard. I wondered if you might have any further information on him (and ideally a photograph) in your archives. I look forward to hearing from you.
Colwyn Bay Wireless College
From Richard Shaw 22 February 2017
Firstly, many thanks for another splendid newsletter which arrived today. I hope you have now recovered from your Christmas bug.
In response to John Edwards’ letter about Colwyn Bay Wireless College (page 2), I was a student there from 23 April, 1941 to April 1942 when I got my PMG’s ‘Special’ (wartime) Certificate and first went to sea in SS Historian.
Unable to settle ashore after discharge as ‘Surplus to Requirements’ in 1946, I returned to Colwyn Bay to study for a couple of terms before sitting for my Second Class PMG in December 1948.
Colwyn Bay Wireless College was a lively place after the war with the return of several ex-servicemen who had learnt skills unknown in my earlier days. Jumping out of a first floor dormitory window for a night on the town was no problem for a parachutist who would re-enter silently some hours later. Nor was the lock on the pantry door when he felt peckish after our rationed dinners had failed to meet army standards.
As for Tim Wander’s search for a Myriad computer, I recall that three of them were used by Air Traffic Control, West Drayton, as part of the Flight Plan Processing System. Data on aircraft movements were fed to them simultaneously for comparison, and if one computer’s output differed from the other two it would be disregarded. That, however, was around 40 years ago, so where they are today is anyone’s guess.
GE (Eric) Lilley
From Diane Carrick 24 February 2017
My father Mr G E Lilley worked for Marconi for over 25 years. I was born in Lagos Nigeria, where he was stationed at the time in 1961. He returned to UK in 1963 and then became Area Manager Marconi Middle East. In around 1975 he was seconded to Nicosia Cyprus, still working for Marconi and I finished my High School there. I remember a Mr Geoffry Nutt and Graham Linnell also being based in Cyprus.
I would love to know what projects he was assigned, and what his specific job function was in these years. Are you able to trace any records from the Chelmsford archives?
Barry has obviously referred Diane Carrick to the various resources mentioned above, but I have also put her in touch with Fred Boot who, together with his wife Peggy, were in Nigeria pretty much concurrently with Eric and his wife Barbara. Fred and Eric were part of a Marconi College team in the country to train young Nigerians who would operate and maintain the multi-channnel radio system that Marconi had installed linking the large interior through repeater stations in jungle and in the northern desert areas on the edge of the Sahara. See Fred’s further reminiscences about the ex-pat life in Nigeria in the early 60s on page NN. (David Samways, who Fred also knew in Nigeria, enters into this story – see page10.).
However, Diane would obviously like to know more about her father’s life after Nigeria if any Veteran can help.
Eric Burnett Vass 1936 – 1953
Letter from Bruce Vass, S Australia, 8 June 2016
2017 Newsletter item on page 4 of the paper version
Following this enquiry last year from Bruce Vass, Ray Walls has corresponded with him and provided a little of the sought-for information. This is a follow-up.
Ray has sent extracts from the source article for Eric Walker’s item ‘What’s the rate of exchange for kudos?’ which appeared from in the 2007 edition of the newsletter. This recounted Eric’s experiences of Airadio Division at Writtle in the early ‘50s, and the division’s work at the time on Green Satin, the airborne doppler navigator equipment for the RAF’s V-bomber force. Ray, Dave Pudsey and Eric Walker all knew Bruce Vass, and both Dave Pudsey and Ray, a junior engineer newly in the division, worked with him on Green Satin’s transmitter/receiver unit.
From Ronald Smeltzer Ph D, 9 February 2017
I have a 1901 book on microscopy with the signature EE Triggs and address: c/o Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Co. Ltd., Marconi House Strand London WC2 written on the flyleaf. I found this name in your Veterans Deceased list.
Would you be able, please, to tell me anything about Mr Triggs, his position at the Marconi company perhaps? Information about a previous owner of a book is always of interest.
Following searches carried out by Chris Gardiner we can only say the following: “Since he joined in 1900 and Marconi’s address is The Strand it would appear that the book was acquired fairly early in his career. Also, of course, he would have worked at Hall Street among a relatively small workforce although I don’t think there was any mention of him in the photos or other documentation shown in the Hall Street exhibition in 2016. Tim Wander’s book produced for the exhibition shows quite a few of the staff but these are not identified so we may have a picture of Mr. Triggs without knowing.”
Mamoon Osman, Marconi employee from Sudan, 1950s
From Reem Abusham, 28 February 2017
I know there is an extremely slim chance but I was wondering if you had any information about an employee, Mamoon Osman, in the Chelmsford factory. He would definitely have been working there in engineering in 1959, having come over from Sudan to train at the factory, and would have been about 25 at the time. I understand of corse you may not have any information about him, but if not and could pass on this email to anyone else who also came over from Sudan around that time, or anyone that may have worked with him then, that would be very much appreciated. It would even be good if there were any contemporary company photos taken that he may be in.
Sorry, I am aware this is a very broad request and there may be nothing you can do but he would be my grandfather so any information would be very much appreciated.
Geoffrey John Burfoot
From Richard Burfoot, 2 March 2017
I should be most grateful for any assistance with finding out about my father, Geoffrey John Burfoot who was a Marconi trained radio officer serving on cargo/passenger ships in early/mid/ late 1920s from London and Liverpool ports.
He was born 16 March 1900 near Slough/Windsor and later served with Cable and Wireless. I should like to have knowledge of his career and of the ships that he served in: he did sail world-wide possibly with different companies.
I am saddened that I did not ask and listen to him when he was talking about his times serving on merchant ships when I was growing up!
I would be most happy to make a small donation to the relevant organisation that may have information.
Richard Burfoot MA (Conservation) RIBA. Architect
Willow Cottage, Prinsted Lane, Emsworth PO10 8HS
Tel 01243 379844
Canadian on a Marconi College course in 1995/6
From Barry Knight, 14 November 2017
I wonder whether you can help me please. My Mother was a cleaner at the Marconi College in Arbour Lane Chelmsford and she retired when it closed down in 1997. Unfortunately she now has the onset of dementia but she speaks of a kind Canadian gentleman who was there on a course for a few months, probably around 1995 or 1996, at least that is her best estimate. He helped her greatly in tracing her relatives who had moved to Canada many years previously. She would like to get back in touch with him but she cannot now remember his name. She thinks that she might have heard that he died in a car crash on his return to Canada but she cannot be sure of this information. Do you think that there is anybody who might have some information that would help her?
This is a very long shot! Ed
Tim Wander’s museum appeals in 2017 newsletter Great Baddow CH mast
From Ray Walls, 13 March 2017
I notice from the 2017 Newsletter that Tim Wander is seeking uses made of the Great Baddow CH mast. I can recall one.
In Airadio Division at Basildon we designed and produced the Blue Orchid Doppler equipment for helicopter navigation. This would have been about 1961. Basically the unit sent microwave beams to the ground or water below and the Doppler shift of the reflected signal was used to obtain aircraft velocity along and across the axis.
An important use was to enable the helicopter to hover over water, keeping in step with the water movement (tides). This way a sensor (eg, sonobuoy) could be dropped safely into the water.
We needed to test the system especially at the low velocities of hover. To do this we hung a Blue Orchid unit from the lowest of the cross arms of the CH mast at Marconi Research Baddow. We could then gently swing the unit as if in hover and check its operation.
I am trying to locate people who worked on Blue Orchid to confirm the above.
George Millington – 1
From David Frost
A friend of mine, Michael Claydon (some of you may recognise the name) who grew up in the 50’s and 60’s in West Avenue, Chelmsford, and was in the choir at All Saints Church in Kings Road, is trying to find some information on George Millington. He was heavily involved in the affairs of that church and was a lay reader. He worked at Great Baddow and joined Marconi in the 1930s from Cambridge. Apparently he became an outstanding scientist of world renown and was awarded the Faraday Gold Medal. He died in the ’80s and the church was packed with former Marconi colleagues. This friend of mine and a godson of George Millington are trying to find out a bit more about his working life and if anyone has any information I will be happy to pass it on.
Can anyone tell me what prestigious award George Millington received in 1978? He was Chief of the Propagation and Mathematical Group in Chelmsford, which work involved investigating high frequency radio waves. George received the Faraday Medal in 1974.
Following up on this (the most interesting part of the job), Ian Gillis has created a page devoted to George Millington in the Radar History wiki. There, Roy Simons mentions him giving the Appleton lecture in 1970, the Faraday Medal award, and the fact that he lectured at Mid-Essex Tec’ in the ‘60s. I have a vague memory of the latter. Ed.
From: Stephanie Wenborn, 15 December 2017
My husband’s uncle, Norman Cryer who joined the Marconi Company in 1958 sadly passed away this week. He was a member of your association. We would love to find out further information about his role at your organisation as he never discussed his work with our family.
Where was this opening?
Martin Eve, 14 June 2017 (via Rochester archive and Alan Hartley-Smith)
This plaque commemorates the opening of a company building by Norman Lamont in 1984. Martin Eve’s father acquired it some time during his service with the company, and now, since his father’s death, he has it. The father worked for Marconi Avionics, then GEC Avionics, as did Martin until 1988. The current assumption is that the building was at Milton Keynes – the inscription reads: “This building was opened by Mr Norman Lamont MP, Minister of State for Industry, 15th August 1984”.
Can any veteran throw any further light on this?
John Whittaker, former Marconi Radar employee
From Chelmsford Science and Engineering Society, Adam Wood, 24 June 2017
It is with great sadness that I report the passing of John Whittaker (‘Little John’), who died peacefully on Sunday 11 June 2017 surrounded by his close friends, following an 18?month struggle with dementia. He had recently celebrated his 80th birthday a month before on 19 May 2017.
John worked at Marconi Radar from 1961 (having been an apprentice in the years leading up to that) until the mid-90s, so some of you may remember him from then. He was a stalwart of the ‘219 London Road family’ before moving to his apartment on Coval Lane, where he remained until going into care.
This was treated as news in the Essex Chronicle in March 1969. All we seem to get today in the papers is bad news. Technology has also moved on apace. Does anyone remember this order or even had worked on it?
Marconi’s Fiji order: Chelmsford’s Marconi Company has won a £¼ million order to provide a remote-controlled, high frequency equipment for Nandi Airport in Fiji. The new equipment will increase the handling capacity of the aeronautical fixed telecommunications network in the South Pacific. The order was awarded to Marconi by the Civil Aviation Division of the New Zealand Ministry of Transport. Nandi airport is one of the main international airports in the Pacific, particularly important for the rapidly increasing traffic on the trans-Pacific air routes, as a tourist centre.
Jim Salmon, and Tim Wander
In 1922 from ‘a long low hut full of long low people’ a small group of young Marconi engineers entertained radio amateurs and listeners across the UK and beyond with regular radio broadcasts every Tuesday evening. The broadcasts originated from Writtle, and the enthusiastic team led by Captain Peter Eckersley assembled their transmitter together with a gramophone player, microphone, and on occasions a piano from the local public house, to entertain listeners. Whilst transmissions lasted for just a year, their impact was immense. Many of those involved moved on to make major contributions to the works of Marconi and the BBC.
On February 14th 2017 a new team came together in the original Writtle Hut, safely stored and under cover at Sandford Mill, to celebrate this short time in history when a small wooden hut in a field in Writtle, occupied by a group of fascinating individuals, became the home of the UK’s first regular radio broadcasts.
The team did not try to recreate station 2MT as we now live in a very different age. The aim of the evening was to recreate and celebrate the spirit and adventure of 2MT, to be ‘born in laughter and nurtured in laughter’. From Sunday 12th February to Tuesday 14th February 2017 we celebrated 2MT with an internet radio service including various live programmes from the original 2MT ‘Long Low Hut’. Whilst in the hut, we were joined by members of the Chelmsford Amateur Radio Society who were operating a special event amateur radio station using the call sign ‘GB95 2MT’. We were able to therefore, for the first time in 95 years actually broadcast and transmit from this historic building.
The aims of the evening were many. First a great evening for the volunteers and Chelmsford amateur radio club to celebrate a true piece of Chelmsford history. The project also successfully celebrated the UK’s first regular broadcast station and raised awareness of current technology and amateur radio. We are happy to have been able to expand on the 2MT story and bring this to a new audience, paying tribute to all those involved.
There were many high points during the broadcast including being interviewed on BBC 5 Live and BBC Essex. However, the main highlight was at 7 pm on Tuesday 14th February, exactly 95 years on from when 2MT started transmissions. At this time we all raised a glass and drank a toast to 2MT and all involved, to radio hams past, present and future, and to Captain Peter Eckersley. We were joined in the hut by amateur radio and museum friends and colleagues, and we are sure the spirits from the past were looking on!
A poignant moment during the 3 days was on Tuesday afternoon when we were visited by Shirley, the daughter of Tom Eckersley, Peter’s elder brother. Now in her 80s, we enjoyed talking about family and history, and I was pleased to be able to play her a recording of an interview with Peter Eckersley, most likely from the 1950s, in which he credits his brother Tom for being the inspiration to him at school to ‘be a wireless engineer’.
The team would like to say thank you to everyone involved and in particular everyone who emailed us and interacted with us on social media. The team intend to be back with you for the centenary celebrations, but I have a feeling you may hear from us before then!
For further information including programme recordings, videos, photos, publicity details, and our schedule of programmes, visit our website:http://www.emmatoc.com
Following the final nail in the coffin for any use of space at Hall Street with the granting of another planning permission for additional flats there are now no former company sites in which a physical centre could be located. So since the Exhibition in 2016 there has been little heritage activity other than participation in the touring Titanic event in the Bond Street centre and the work being undertaken at Sandford Mill by the curatorial and volunteer teams, which is however going from strength to strength with restoration work of television cameras and preparations for the commemorations of wireless broadcasting in 2020 and 2022.
That said there has been considerable progress in the virtual world with the buildup of content on the series of online wikis (see below*), which now number twelve covering all activities carried out by the Company in its many manifestations from origination to demise. As they become suitable these are being made open to public view, are attracting attention from a wide range of inquirers and are also establishing links with other similar operations in related areas. So it may be that the electronic technologies stemming from the historic ideas and work of Marconi and his early team, and then developed into the industries of the present by the many people following in their footsteps, will be the principal bearers and presenters of past personal and practical records into the future.
One tiny glimmer on the far horizon: it transpires that Chelmsford City Council are setting up a Cultural Development Trust and have appointed a group of the good and the great as trustees so we have taken steps to inform them and to highlight Marconi’s legacy in Chelmsford.
When the MVA website was set up in 2004 the company wished to retain some control and Marconi Corporation plc registered the domain names ‘marconiveterans.org’ and ‘marconiveterans.com’ on behalf of the MVA. The Marconi technical administrators were located in Atlanta, Georgia. There followed a long and convoluted story involving ourselves, Atlanta and Ericsson Sweden, and four domain names: ‘marconiveterans.org’, ‘marconiveterans.com’, ‘marconi-veterans.org’, and ‘marconi-veterans.com’ wjth Ericsson Sweden having a continued proprietary interest in ‘marconiveterans.com’
To cut a long story short, that led to the current position where we can use any one from the above four: legally, Ericsson can ask for the return of the domain ‘marconiveterans.com’ should they ever wish to use it.
Those of you who view the website regularly will have noticed that the page layout has changed. This was forced upon us because the old theme, which we had been using for at least 5 years, was no longer supported and would not work with the latest version of WordPress. We are now using a 2017 theme which has a lot more possibilities for elegant layouts and for adding extra facilities (if the webmaster can sort them all out!) and works much better for those viewing the site on a smart phone or tablet.
Barry Powell, MVA Secretary
Well, here we go with 2018 – I hope you all had a good Christmas and are looking forward to a healthy New Year.
Those of you who were at last year’s reunion will be aware that, after 14 reunions, I will be stepping down as Secretary after this year. I feel that the time is right for someone fresh to take over and bring in new ideas. My mother is now 97 and it’s taking more of our time to support her living in her own home. I intend to remain on the committee (if they’ll have me!) and attend future reunions. Hopefully, I’ll have more time to chat with you all. Veteran Colin Fletcher is working closely with me at the moment and will take over as Secretary at the end of the reunion.
I would like to thank everyone for their support in making my tenure as enjoyable as it has been. This especially applies to my wife, Christine, who will forever be known as ‘The Secretary’s Secretary’.
Our reunion and AGM this year will be on the 21st April, once again at the Marconi Club. Martyn Clarke, who is a stalwart of the Marconi team at Sandford Mill, will be the President and Paul Marshall our Honoured Guest. Also, at last year’s reunion we announced that Friends of the Association would be invited to attend. So, if you know of anyone who would like to attend and have not yet registered as a Friend, urge them to contact me as soon as possible.
This year, we have returned to the standard menu offered by the caterers opting for some of your favourites. Our selection for this year is Brussels Pate with Melba Toast and a Caramelised Onion Chutney Homemade Steak, Red Onion and Ale Pie, Forest Fruits Cheesecake, Cheese & Biscuits, Tea or Coffee.
The ticket price for the reunion will be £33 for Friends whilst Veterans will continue to pay the subsidised price – this year £28. We are pleased to maintain the subscription rate at £6 (£3 for Friends).
At this point it is probably appropriate to say a few words about the reunion to inform any of our Friends who may be considering attending and also to advise you all of some minor changes. When you complete the application form, just tick the box requesting a ticket and indicate which company you would like to sit with. If you have special dietary requirements (Vegetarian, Gluten Free, Halal etc.) please mention it in the space provided. We can cope with most needs – if you are not sure, please ring me. By return, well almost, you will receive your ticket.
The Member’s Bar opens at 11.00 am for you to meet old colleagues. The Main Hall will open as soon as the caterers have completed laying the tables; the bar will then open and you can collect your name tag and reserve your seat at a table. We do not allocate actual places at table but only use the information from the application forms to ensure that there are sufficient places for each of the companies. If you wish to sit with particular people, arrange with them to reserve a suitable number of places on a table – there are 10 places on each – for the appropriate company. I am happy to advise you who is attending or usually attends and help you contact them. You can now relax and enjoy the reunion until lunch is served. On one of the tables to the side of the hall there will be books containing messages from Veterans unable to attend and a list of those Veterans who have passed away since the last reunion.
If you have requested a special meal, I would urge you to arrive as early as possible, reserve your place and then let me know where you are sitting – I will be the one with a harassed expression carrying a clipboard – as I have to let the caterers know where to deliver them by 12 noon.
You will be asked to take your seats at around 12.45 pm and, shortly after, the Top Table (including the President and Guest) take their places. On your table, for each person, there will be a commemorative coaster, menu, list of attendees and the papers for the AGM (more later). There will also be an envelope containing a strip of raffle tickets for which we would request £1.00 – someone will be around to collect this during the meal.
After a minute’s silence in memory of our founder, Guglielmo Marconi, and the grace, the meal is served.
During the meal, there will be a few toasts as our President celebrates his year with parts of the Marconi Organisation that have a special meaning to him.
At the end of the meal Veteran Valerie Cleare will pass on some messages from Veterans unable to attend and then the speeches start. There are only three – an introduction of the president, the president and his guest. They are usually light hearted and last around 5 minutes each. We have received a few comments about Veterans carrying on individual conversations during the speeches. Please refrain from this as it is very discourteous to the speaker and distracting for other Veterans. Together with a few toasts this takes us to around 3.45 pm when there is a short break.
At 4.00 pm the AGM commences. This usually lasts for only a few minutes and is followed by the raffle which concludes the programme for the afternoon and leaves you free to carry on the Reunion.
If you have any questions, please give me a ring.
Again, we would like to thank Benefit, the San Francisco based cosmetics company, and Hampton Sports and Leisure (The Marconi Club as was) for their hospitality and also Leonardo (the new name for Selex-es) who have kindly supported us for a number of years now.
With regard to the name tags, last year’s arrangements seemed to work quite well so we will again produce the name tags on A4 sheets which will be at the merchandise table so you can collect yours, as you enter the hall. When you order your ticket, please indicate, in the box provided, how you would like your tag to read. If you attended the Reunion last year, it will read the same, otherwise, the default will be to print your name as it appears on the first line of your address label.
If you are still unsure about attending or have any questions, please give me a ring. I am always happy to talk and can give you names of those Veterans who attended recent Reunions.
If you know of an ex-Marconi employee who does not receive the Newsletter please urge them to contact me as soon as possible. It may be that they have moved or not replied to a confirmation request of a few years ago or that they left with 21 to 24 years service and have now become Veterans by virtue of the reduction in service requirement to 21 years’. The ‘Friends of The Marconi Veterans’ Association’ has been set up to cater for anyone who does not qualify as a Veteran but wishes to be kept informed of things Marconi. Numbers are growing slowly with, currently, over 70 members and any more would be welcome.
The three registers (the Main register, In Memoriam and Friends) are now published on the website so please have a look if you can and let me know of any errors: www.marconi-veterans.org
Finally, I would like to wish you all a very prosperous 2018 and hope to see as many of you as possible either at the reunion on 21st April or the next Open Day at Sandford Mill.
One final note – the 2019 Reunion will be on Saturday 6th April.
Well that’s goodbye from him, and now hello to him …
From the New Boy
Hello, this is Colin Fletcher and I am sure you will want to know a bit more about me. I first joined Marconi in May 1989 at the New Street site. The company name at that time was Marconi Communications Systems Ltd.
From 1989 until 1997 I worked in the Software Engineering Department as Project Leader developing Radio Communications infrastructures for British Gas – Western and Southern, and Joint Radio Council. Following on from this, when the company came under Italian ownership, I also worked as Network Manager during the introduction of a new company wide network in the early days of the now ubiquitous Internet.
In 1997 I left New Street and went to work in Harlow for Cossor (later Raytheon) on Secondary Surveillance Radar systems, only to return, like a lost sheep to the fold, to New Street in 1999.
The return to New Street was celebrated by working on the Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) system, a trunked mobile radio system conforming to an open standard published by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI). The work involved not only designing facilities conforming to the standard but also attending meeting with other manufacturers in order to extend and enhance existing facilities in the standard.
It was during this time, until 2016, that I developed experience in not only writing the minutes for the ETSI meetings but also booking my own hotel and travel arrangements. Hopefully this will be useful in the secretary’s rôle.
In my time with the company the name has changed numerous times; the current name is now ‘Leonardo’. I have now retired from working life in order to devote more time to leisure.
During all this time I have lived in Chelmsford with my wife Marian. Our two grown-up children are now pursuing their own careers; our daughter Louise in teaching and our son David as a captain in the infantry.
Finally my thanks to Barry, whose high standard I hope to maintain and who has courageously offered to be on hand should help and advice be required.
There have been numerous tributes to David following his death in Australia at the end of December. A selection of them follow.
He was not a Veteran, having served only eleven years in the company, but had joined the association as a Friend a few years ago. I first came into contact with him by email when he was setting up and managing the online Marconi Old Fellows Society (MOFS). He has subsequently created a number of wikis, Marconi in Avionics. Marconi in Broadcasting, Marconi in Communications and Marconi in Television. Martyn Clarke told me that his devotion to these projects has been impressive. I think we who remain owe him an immense debt of gratitude for securing a significant portion of the companies’ histories before they are lost.
The news came first from John Price in Australia.
I have known David Samways since we were both accepted as Student Apprentices by the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company in 1957. Five years of alternate college and in-works training and final study at Marconi College in 1961. We both worked on commissioning the USAF microwave in UK and France, and later David left Marconi and moved to Honeywell in London while I joined GEC Telecommunications in Coventry. Shortly after that I was delighted to act as best man at his wedding to Doreen in Stoke on Trent.
We met again in Lagos Nigeria in 1965 when David worked at the Marconi P&T Training college, and I was there with GEC commissioning the Lagos to Port Harcourt Microwave System. We only had intermittent contact until 1980, when we were both living in Sydney Australia. Honeywell, renamed Bull, employed David in a senior marketing role for most of the time until he retired with his wife Doreen, to enjoy his daughter’s family and his two grandchildren. His dedicated work in support of MOFS, the Wikis, and assisting with the writing of the article ‘The Marconi Family’ was much appreciated by all concerned. Many will share the sadness at David’s passing, a friendly, humorous, caring, English gentleman.
From Fred Boot
My wife and I first met David and his wife Doreen when they arrived in Nigeria in the August of 1963 to join the Marconi College Team that were running the Radio School in the top two floors of the Post & Telegraph training School at Oshodi, just north of Lagos. There were twelve expats in the team, most married with families but two or three bachelors and together they provided a four year training programme for young Nigerian men who, ultimately would operate and maintain the multi-channel radio system that Marconi had installed linking the large interior through repeater stations in jungle and in the north dessert areas on the edge of the Sahara. Three streams of students were recruited every year with the intention of providing technicians for this system, so the training programme covered classroom theory and practical in laboratories and workshops.
From Ian Gillis
I didn’t know David personally but came to appreciate the dedication, conscientious attention to detail and sheer professionalism that he brought to bear on the work he did on the wikis.
From John Brown
David was with the Communications Division installations team on the US communications link contract, associated with Fylingdales in 1962/4. We both experienced, albeit in different parts of the country, the severe winter of 1962/3 (he in Yorkshire working on the exposed Garrowby Hill site, and me accompanying John Gorton (complete with spades and hessian sacks – for grip – to get through to RAE Aberporth).
During that time, he built up a real affection for his living quarters at ‘The Feathers’ Pocklington. Fifty-four years later, the affection and memories were still as strong. He knew that from my RAF days I was very familiar with ‘The Feathers’, and he mentioned it again shortly after I returned from one of my regular visits to Leconfield, Yorkshire last July. Now whether he had a premonition that his life was drawing to a close or not, we will never know; however, he specifically asked me if there was any possibility of my getting someone to take a picture of ‘The Feathers’ as it is today.
I immediately contacted a close friend who lives in the area, and a super picture was E-mailed to me a few days later, which I forwarded to him. He was ‘over the moon’; especially as it had changed little from when he stayed there fifty-four years ago. In light of what we now have learnt from Martyn’s sad news, I am just so glad that I was able to carry out his request.
From Mike Plant
What a shock. David can only have been 78, or at most, nudging 79. One of the most striking of my intake in 1957 – tall, handsome in a way, and aristocratic in his manner and manners. A charming stammer and a ready wit, what memories flood back. The Oldfellows Group, started and run by him, I’m sure has grown to a much larger and detailed record than he originally envisaged! How appropriate that his group should itself be a living memory of him and of those of us fortunate enough to have been present during his time in the Company. Sadly, but with a smile too.
Diane Carrick’s letter on page 4 concerning her father GE Lilley and the editorial note below it refer to the Marconi College team of instructors in Nigeria to train young Nigerians who would operate and maintain the multi-channel radio system that Marconi had installed linking the large interior through repeater stations in jungle and in the northern desert areas on the edge of the Sahara. Fred here describes the way of life for them in Nigeria at that time. Ed
The training school was about three miles away from the Government Residential Area (GRA) at Ikeja which had the Lagos International Airport nearby and provided a selection of flat, bungalow and semi-detached house for the instructors, generally flats for married couples without children and bachelors, and bungalow or house for families.
Nigeria is a large country covering different land zones, from the coast where Lagos exists, to a vast jungle in the centre and dry dessert to the north, with different peoples living in these zones. The local people were Yoruba in the west, Igbo in the east and Hausa and Fulani in the north, which meant the students would have different life styles and attitudes, each with their own language, and the northern population was essentially Muslim. English was used throughout which was fortunate for the Marconi team.
The students were a mixture of these races with a preponderance of Igbo and Yoruba, but the use of English as the working language eliminated any problems of understanding. Since this was in the early 1960s a blackboard and dictation was typically used to transmit information. Learning students’ names was extremely useful in controlling activities and keeping their attention.
Climatic conditions near the coast were hot and humid, the latter being the principal problem. Driving a car to work early each morning and home again in the early afternoon required a special seat/back wire cushion to keep the car’s seat fabric from burning one’s back. Mosquitos were abundant and in earlier
years this coast was known as ‘the White Man’s Grave’ but fortunately the tablet of Paludrin each morning did ward off malaria although it didn’t stop them from biting.
The working day with the students was 5am to 2pm but then preparation for the next day and perhaps marking their efforts took time but left some for the family and getting out. Daylight was early in the morning but suddenly around 6 o’clock in the evening it disappeared, so no English dusk to enjoy. Marking students’ papers during the evening required a pile of blotting paper under the wrist to prevent sweat pouring onto the paper and distorting the writing thereon.
There was time to relax: the Airport Hotel was nearby with a bar and swimming pool, the airport itself had food and drink as did the Club, and Lagos was only a handful of miles away with shops and the beach at Victoria Island: a swim on 1st January was nice even if the waves could often be dangerous. A small ferry boat could take you across the harbour to the much safer Tarkwa Bay but the sun was too strong to sit out too long. The main rains came continuously over the June to August period but remembering that earlier name for the area Marconi insisted that its European staff had to have a 6-week break during the rains and go to a European climate: 6 weeks holiday in England every summer allowed views of green pastures that were not harsh to the eye.
The high humidity meant that during the time in Nigeria the housing had wardrobes down to floor level, where inside was a row of light bulbs continuously lit to keep the hanging clothing from disintegrating from moisture. Open a drawer and a small Gecko (little lizard) might jump out; those living behind the hanging wall pictures darted out to catch resting insects and so were tolerated, but the big 15inch long orange/black lizards were too much to allow inside the house.
Occasionally a picnic might be arranged going to the coast but eastwards towards the border with Togo, and this would give a beach with no other people present, fruit bats in the palm trees and a small ferry boat to cross the barrier creek with a wait among the coconut palms for the ferry boat.
This is the lifestyle David entered when he settled in as a Marconi instructor at the Oshodi P&T School living in the GRA at Ikeja, one that might well have not lasted much longer because soon after the Nigerian civil war (Biafran War 1967-1970) broke out. Sadly many of the students that we had passed through the college would not have lived to serve their country in the way that they had been trained. We kept in loose contact with David & Doreen until they moved to Australia when the contact became the Christmas newsletter from them.
At this reunion on the 22nd April 2017 MVA Chairman Peter Turrall introduced our President for 2017, Veteran Don Mott, MVA’s current treasurer, who he counts as a friend he has known for around 50 years. Don was employed in senior accounts positions across the Marconi organisation, retiring from Marconi Radar Systems Ltd in 1994 after a total of 38 years service, and has been of recent years a very effective treasurer of this association.
In his address Don reflected on his varied experiences over those times: Chelmsford born and bred, schooled at the King’s Road schools and KEGS, commencing National Service in the Royal Army Pay Corps in 1951, followed by short periods of employment at Crompton and Britvic before joining Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Company in 1956, and continuing with the organisation in a number of its companies and at various locations until retirement around 1996.
As a qualified accountant he considers himself to have been an administrator (unkindly known by some as a number-cruncher or bean-counter) but he prefers scorekeeper, and never one of those who create the wealth of a company – the engineers, production, and sales and marketing staff. Proud never to have missed a payday, he was once complimented by John Sullivan, Purchasing Manager of Marconi Communications, for “paying most of the creditors most of the time”
Forever a enthusiast for sport, principally football but also playing cricket and rugby, he played football for the Old Chelmsfordians before National Service, and then in a number of clubs locally, including the Marconi Club, over the intervening years until leaving the field as a player 1964 and becoming a referee. After that, what else but dealing with some leagues’ accounts.
Peter Turrall then welcomed our honoured guest, Ray Clark someone he got to know well when being interviewed by him during time as Publicity Manager for MCSL. Not his first appearance at our reunions, he was also Guest of Honour in 2008. Ray, who Peter found a very good and knowledgeable interviewer, has had a varied career both in and out of broadcasting and is currently the presenter of the Saturday morning programme ‘Planet Ray’ on BBC Essex.
An engaging and entertaining speaker, he first related an amusing tale flowing from an item in his BBC Essex programme about impairment of hearing in young people through listening to music at high volume on headphones. It involved a lady caller who ran a hearing clinic in Colchester, an appointment for Ray to test his hearing… and a Big Issue seller sitting on the pavement in Colchester. It would take too long to relate here, suffice to say it was very amusing.
He reminisced over his early experiences in the pioneer pirate radio station Radio Caroline, how it emerged from the desert that was popular music on this country in the early 60s, a chequered history that saw it ultimately becoming a legitimate radio station which is still in operation, the last of its host vessels now moored in Blackwater estuary.
As a broadcaster with an interest in people, his view is that those who say that they have not done very much with their lives are wrong, everyone has an interesting story to tell.
From Thomas Hunter. 1 August 2017
On going through some of my grandfather Frederick Beale’s his old photographs following his recent death I came across one I believe dates from June 1985 (see group photo). It would be great if you or your members had any information about the photo, or could identify any of the people (my grandfather is third from the front left). Any information would be greatly appreciated, as his family know little about his work life.
This photograph label clearly shows the date to be correct. Ed.
From David Jervis, March 2017
I was carrying out some research into the life of my beloved Grandfather, Captain Henry Joseph Round MC, and came across your website. I was delighted to see that the work of Marconi, with whom my Grandfather worked very closely, was being kept very much alive. I thought you might like to know that hanging on a wall in my house is a marvellous photo labelled ‘Marconi Third Annual Reunion Dinner’ at the Holborn Restaurant on November 14th 1930. The photo features about fifty people with a line of 13 standing , including Marconi, my Grandfather and his great friend CS Franklin. Maybe you have a copy of this photo among your records but I felt compelled to make contact with you. I am so pleased that your organisation appears to be thriving.
(eldest son of H J Round’s youngest daughter, Anne)
No we didn’t have a copy of of it, so David Jervis kindly made a high quality scan of his original and sent it to us, together with the photo of Henry Round in his lounge. On the wall, above his right shoulder, the reunion photograph.
Left, from the May 1964 edition of ‘The Marconi Companies and Their People’ a photo of H J Round with the picture’s original caption.
Shameless use of our bound volumes of ‘The Marconi Companies and Their People, what would we do without them, because I had more awkward-to-fit items for fourteen pages, but not enough for sixteen – and anyway, it’s a nice, tranquil Essex scene, so why not. It’s from the January 1966 edition. (Photo by Charles Seeley)
Fourteen and sixteen does, of course refer to the paper edition of the Newsletter
Church to have Marconi Marine equipment
One piece of Marconi Marine equipment which is destined never to catch sight or sound of the seven seas is an ‘Elettra’ sound reinforcement system which is to be fitted in one of East Anglia’s oldest and most handsome churches, the fifteenth-century parish church of St. Mary-the-Virgin at Dedham.
The church, which was founded by wealthy wool merchants of the small town when it was a flourishing centre for the industry, is having microphones fitted in the pulpit, lectern and vicar’s stall to feed two sound column loudspeakers, providing sound reinforcement to the nave, and two smaller loudspeakers in the west wing. Because of the intensive work done by technicians, the equipment will in no way intrude upon the beauty of the interior fabric or the lovely oak columned roofing.
The fine pinnacled and battlemented tower of the church figures in many of the paintings of the Stour Valley by the great landscape artist John Constable.
From Caroline Barnes, 9 January 2018
An appreciation of the life of Michael Stears by a former Marconi colleague, Peter Bickers, which was included in the vicar’s address at Michael’s funeral in All Saints Church, Feering, on Friday 12th January.
Michael was a ‘serious, intellectual and innovative engineer who would always deliver on a job’. In the 1960s, Michael worked for Plessey and, not satisfied with just doing his ‘day job’, he wrote a paper on a novel form of wireless communication technology which was eventually adopted by the company, designed into their products and put into production by Michael and his colleagues. The performance of the equipment was at least a decade ahead of its time. Eventually it was deployed on all British Royal Navy ships and submarines and sold across the world to the Chinese, Dutch, Americans, Malaysians and other navies.
He also worked on highly sensitive projects for GCHQ in Cheltenham, although the work wasn’t always so highly technical. On one occasion, his team had to nail half an acre of aluminium sheet down on a runway, in an effort to improve a test site for the customer.
Later in his career he joined Marconi’s and became Senior Project Manager for Defence Communication contracts. One of the largest was the Command and Communication System for the Malaysian Armed forces, which required considerable travel and time in Malaysia over several years.
Ted Pegram – 1940 – 2017
Ted Pegram wrote an autobiographical note for his son “Not much of an engineer” (apologies to Sir Stanley Hooker of Rolls- Royce, whose book had the same title). Far too long to include in the newsletter it can be found at:http://marconiradarhistory.pbworks.com/w/page/118791537
Ted Pegram was a Baddow engineer, Chelmsford born and bred, whose entire working life was spent with Marconi’s after his father Bernard (Bert) Pegram, also a Marconi man, secured him an interview with the company in 1956 which resulted in a craft apprenticeship.
Apprenticeship completed in 1961 he joined the Research Centre Laboratories at Great Baddow and pursued a rewarding career as an engineer. He was involved initially in one of the first applications of real-time electronic display of alpha-numeric data newly employed in two control centres for the Royal Swedish Air Force, followed by the further application of these techniques in the early implementation of plant instrumentation, applications which included the Scottish Air Traffic Control Sector.
A Radar Division order for the Fight Plan Processing System at the London Air Traffic Control Centre at West Drayton used a modified version of Ted’s equipment to electronically display to the controllers Flight Progress Strips that had previously been done on cardboard strips.
Then a position as section leader in the Systems Department of Marconi Radar Systems followed, working on two major radar systems comprising static and mobile long range radars and nodding height finders, together with mobile Control and Reporting Posts and Sector Operations Centres.
In the early 80s Ted was appointed Project Engineer for a Marconi Radar contract to design and build an experimental High Frequency Over-the Horizon Radar (HF-OTHR), then from 1989 he led the Analogue Techniques Section of the Radar Research Laboratory at the Marconi Research Centre, his last posting. Its final major equipment design and build was another experimental HF-OTHR,
His last work for the Research Centre was a curiosity – the study of special aerials to be fitted to the AWACS airborne radar aircraft: a one-fifteenth scale model of the aircraft was required to test in the anechoic chamber at the Research Centre. He built this model in the garage of his home in Wickham Bishops with the help of workshop superintendent Mel Willis, (Ted’s hobby skills must have been invaluable, the construction of a number of stringed instruments, violin, lute, and, hurdy-gurdy, see above.
The items in the photo belonged to Sydney Eric Jones, who served in the Merchant Navy all his life chiefly as a Radio Officer, and including both World Wars. When he died in 1987 he left a number of items from his days at sea, which were clearly important reminders and mementos for him, to his nieces who have kindly donated them to the association and they will be passed to Tim Wander for custodianship at the Sandford Mill Museum.
The photo shows:
Marconi Retirement Certificate for 40 years service
Marconi Veterans Register 1905-54
Marconi Veterans lapel badge
Certificate of Proficiency in Radiotelegraphy 1st Class/April 1929
Certificate of Efficiency as a Lifeboatman/April 1929
Certificate Merchant Navy Radar 1st Class/July 1946
Certificate of Maintenance of Radar Equipment on Merchant Ships/April 1949
Cunard White Star/Mariner ID Pass/New York 1944
Continuous Certificates of Discharge – three books from 1918 to 1962(when he retired)
Six medals, full and dress size from WW1 and WW2
Before passing on these mementos we are doing a little more research on Sidney Jones. He joined Marconi Marine in 1917 but did not embark on his first ship until 1918. We assume that this period was spent at a Marconi Radio College. A record of this should be in the Liverpool Maritime Museum but this is closed until October for renovation. We also know from his niece that he is buried in Clacton Cemetery and will photograph the grave to add to the record. Webmaster.
It’s not necessary to look too hard to spot the difficulties that this editor has had in shoehorning in many awkward lengths of article, so this piece is just a space-filler. January and half of February 2018 will I sincerely hope become a hazy memory. These thoughts are just a quick awkward gap filler before I wrap it up and send for printing, painfully close to the deadline.
But one last thing, let’s have a little more material to play with, but treat it as something you won’t be too upset about if it doesn’t get in. If it’s not year of issue critical it can be archived for future use.
From Alan Matthews
In 1951 Fred Kime joined Radar Development Group (RDG) in Broomfield having worked on aircraft Avionics and Radar in the RAF at the end of the war (some time in Burma with RAF No 181 Signals Wing maintaining Rebecca-Eureka systems). The RDG developed new radar products mainly for sale to foreign governments and Fred Kime was a Section Leader in the display design area. The group moved to Baddow Research in 1959 and was amalgamated with the British Government Radar design teams there.
Fred then took on a new role and became an advisor to the Sales and Marketing department, travelling extensively for over 10 years throughout the world discussing Air Defence and Air Traffic control systems with potential Customers. He then ran a Systems Sales department before eventually becoming Manager of the Radar Systems department at Writtle Road Works with a staff of over 100 engineers.
Valuable and wise contributions were made by Fred to the procurement of many large contracts for Radar Systems abroad, even though he usually worked quietly but very effectively in the background, using his great wisdom to keep sometimes difficult situations carefully under control.
He retired in 1988 and was greatly admired and respected for his great technical knowledge, honesty, integrity, patience and kindness to others.
From Ian Gillis
My youth was spent in the age where it was still cool to have a technologist as one’s hero – mine was Sir William Penney, the AERE/UKAEA nuclear guru.
When I joined MWT Co. after two years in the RAF working on the Console 64 system at RAF Boulmer I was amazed to meet a key engineer for its ‘legacy’ (the SD1000 Fixed Coil Display System) – Frederick William Kime.
Here was a new hero for me – but a hero that was kind, considerate, approachable and supportive, as well as being a technical superman. Not given to excessive frivolity or flights of fancy – not for nothing was he sometimes called ‘Gloomy Fred’ – here was an engineer with his feet firmly placed on extensive experience, whose judgement could always be trusted.
He will be greatly missed.
Ivor Denys Harrison joined Marconi’s in 1952 and was based initially at Writtle as an installation engineer, later moving, with Aeronautical Division, to Basildon in 1960.
An early task was working on the French Vautour aircraft fitting the AD2300 Doppler airborne navigation sensor. He was closely involved with this system taking part in compatibility trials in a Viking aircraft in 1960. Later, based in France, he oversaw the fitting of that system with its computer to the Mirage as part of the French “Force de Frappe” nuclear strike force of the early 60’s.
He also took part in a sales promotion tour in Europe to demonstrate the performance of the system.
In the late 80’s Denys was based in Kuala Lumpur with his wife Mary. There he represented both Basildon and Rochester interests.
Denys lived in a cottage at Heybridge Basin, having a keen interest in things nautical. He was strongly opposed to any development that spoilt the nature of Heybridge. His daughter, Susan, shared Denys’s interest and became skipper of a Thames Barge.
Denys died on the 9th January aged 91. The Service of Thanksgiving held on the first of February at St Georges Heybridge was attended by many of his Marconi colleagues.
We report the death of those Veterans notified to the secretary from the copy date of the last newsletter to the 31st January 2017. We extend our sympathy to the families of those mentioned.
This is a consolidated list as all these deaths have been reported throughout the year on the “In Memoriam” pages.
AR Batsford (Arthur Raymond); F Beales; T Bealin-Kelly (Tom); DE Bennett (Derek); J Bourne (Joseph); RH Bradbrook (Ronald/Ron); G Byrne (George); RR Cheffers (Ross); A Cook; JH Cox (John); NF Cryer (Norman); AWF Cushing (Alan); RC Dixon (Roger); G Findlay (Grant); K Fooks (Ken); PJ Frost (Peter); AJ Gay (Tony); SC Gratze (Steve); AJ Gordon (Alexander James); JW Harber (John); PG Haworth (Philip); J Hegarty (Jimmy); J Jewell (John/Bert); J Hogan (Jim); PJ Keeley (Peter Brian); FW Kime (Frederick/Fred)); KA Knight (Kenneth); MG MacKenzie (Mike); JA McHattie (John); JF Mennell (John Frederick); RC Moody (Royston Charles); DA Nash (David); MR Oliver (Mark); JER Parker (Jack); TW Pegram (Terence); JR Philbrick (Jim); DA Pope (Derek); R Reid (Ralph); N Schoonderwoerd (Neil); AD Sharp (Andrew); AD Skinner (Doug); HG Smith (Geoff); VG Smith (Viv); WJ Southam (William John/Jack); MH (Michael) Stears; J Stobseth-Brown (Joe); RA Wellsteed (Roy); J Whittaker (John); AG Wray (Arthur); Miss M Yule (Babs)
The Secretary has written a separate letter to the Friends of the Marconi Veterans Association. The content is very similar to the letter below but if you wish to read it pleaseCLICK HERE. Links to both application forms are at the bottom of this letter.
Secretary : Veteran Barry Powell
22 Juliers Close
Direct Dial: 01268 696342
E-mail : Secretary@marconi-veterans.org
Dear Fellow Veteran
First, let me wish all Veterans a healthy and prosperous 2018.
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 21st April 2018 and will be our 82nd Reunion. The venue will, as usual be Hampton Sport & Leisure (ex-Marconi Club), Beehive Lane, Chelmsford, where there is ample parking for those who travel by road. The Members’ Bar is to the left as you enter the club and will open at 11.00 a.m. I would draw your attention to my article in the Newsletter where I have pointed out some important changes to the pre-lunch programme. Any further changes will be advised to you with your ticket.
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 2018 is Veteran Martyn Clarke, who is one of a number of ex-employees (mainly Veterans) who generously give their time maintaining the Marconi equipment at The Chelmsford City Industrial museum.
Joining the Reunion as our Honoured Guest is Dr. Paul Marshall who has built up an impressive collection of Marconi Broadcast equipment.
This year, we have returned to the standard menu: –
Brussels Pate with Melba toast and a caramelised Onion chutney Homemade Steak, Red Onion and Ale pie Forest Fruits Cheesecake Cheese & Biscuits, Tea or Coffee
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.
An important change from this year onwards is that Friend are now invited to the Reunion but are asked to refrain from voting at the AGM. Veterans will continue to benefit from a reduced price – this year £28 – whereas Friends will be asked to pay £33. I am sure that you will agree that this is still excellent value for a four course meal with tea/coffee and wine. Subscriptions will remain at £6.00 per annum (£3.00 for Friends). 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 but not later than Friday 6th April. We regret having to set this deadline but it is necessary to enable the caterers to source the ingredients for our meal. 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, additional drinks 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 this year’s Newsletters, 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, Mobile, Radar, Baddow, Basildon, Marine, MI).
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. With regard to the name tags, last year’s arrangements seemed to work quite well so we will, again, produce the name tags on A4 sheets which will be at the merchandise table so you can collect your label as you enter the Hall. When you order your ticket, please indicate, in the box provided, how you would like your tag to read. If you attended the Reunion last year, it will read the same, otherwise, 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, as usual, inviting entries for the ‘Absent Friends’ book, containing messages from Veterans who are 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 2018.
We now have over 70 ‘Friends of the Marconi Veterans’ Association’ and would be pleased to welcome more. If you know of anyone who would like to attend the Reunion, or just receive the Newsletter, 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.
I announced at last year’s Reunion that 2018 would be the last that I would organise. At the end of the Reunion I will be standing down as Secretary and handing over to Veteran Colin Fletcher. I hope to remain on the committee and will be attending future Reunions. It would be great to have a bumper attendance for my swansong so please get recruiting new members (Veterans and/or Friends and convincing colleagues to attend
We trust that you will accept this letter as a very cordial invitation to attend the Eighty-Second 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 2019 Reunion will be on Saturday 6th April
I look forward to seeing you at the Reunion.
With kindest regards
Veteran Barry Powell
For a copy of the Subscription/Ticket application Veterans form for downloading and printing please CLICK HERE.
For a copy of the Subscription/Ticket application Friends form for downloading and printing please CLICK HERE.
We regret we are no yet able to accept electronic payments.
We regret to report the deaths of the following Veterans and extend our sympathy to the families of those mentioned.
This list was correct on 15 January 2018 and supersedes the list published on 5 December 2017
We have intentionally kept this page as simple as possible and provide minimal details of the deceased. However, where we have biographical details of a person and/or funeral details these will be published under the Noticestab above.
At the request of some Veterans we have included Given names where these are known to us.
We regret to announce the death of David Samways on December 28. He joined Marconi’s in 1957 on an HND Thin Sandwich course, completing the course in 1961. David left the Company in 1968 and joined Honeywell Computers eventually settling in Australia in 1979 where he remained until his death.
He is not, therefore, a Marconi Veteran but because of the intensive work he has done over the years, as described below, he has made a very significant contribution to the recording of the history and raising awareness of The Marconi Companies and their employees and is thus remembered on this site.
David started the site MOFS in 2011 as a place to list the names of the apprentices from the mid nineteen fifties, David having joined Marconi’s at that time. Over the years the project expanded so that now it covers all engineering apprentices from 1941 to 1989. The list is far from complete but to date the list holds around 1000 names.
In 2012 he started a collection of Wikis covering the various areas of the Marconi business and these have proved an invaluable repository of Marconi documents both formal and those written by Marconi employees. He was helped in this by veterans in the UK who still had access to some of the Marconi publications, which have been scanned and added to the Wiki.
Luckily, the Wikis remain accessible so all the data is not lost but the search is now on to find a new moderator for the archive so that it continues to be a Marconi resource.
Further tributes to David from friends and work colleagues can be read Here
We regret to report the deaths of the following Veterans and extend our sympathy to the families of those mentioned.
Ronald (Ron) Bradbrook
John (Jack) Parker
This list was correct on 05 December 2017 and supersedes the list published on 18 September 2017
We have intentionally kept this page as simple as possible and provide minimal 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 above.
At the request of some Veterans we have included Given names where these are known to us.
We regret to report the death of veteran Ron Bradbrook on 20 November. Ron was our President in 2010/11.
The funeral will be at Chelmsford Crematorium on Thursday 11th January 2018 at 1-30 pm.
Ron was born in Barking and moved early on to Writtle. After the benefits of the local school he passed the exams to attend Chelmsford Technical College. A group from the college, including Ron, joined Marconi’s as craft apprentices in 1947. During his apprenticeship he did his National Certificate studies at the Tech.; he had spells at Pottery Lane, Hut 3 at Baddow, Writtle and the dreaded Building 46 in New Street.
After National Service he rejoined Marconi as a development engineer and found himself in Building 46 working for a very fine senior engineer, Douggie Bowers. This is where high powered transmitters started to take over his working life.
Having joined Marconi’s in 1947 his career almost covered the whole era of high power radio transmitters just missing out on the coming into service of the 100kW SWB-18 in 1940.
Ron was closely associated with the development of the BD 272 the first one of which became Sender 93 at Woofferton. In the nineties he undertook the early design work on what was to be Marconi’s last HF transmitter, the 500kW B6132, but retired before it went into service.
Ron was also the senior Marconi engineer responsible for the design of the equipment for the BBC’s re-engineering of its UK MW network of transmitters in 1977 using the 50kW B6034 as it basic building block and for the modification of this transmitter in 1986 to long wave as the B6046 for use at Westerglen and Burghead. At about this time he also was responsible for the overall design of the 10kW B6525 and 20kW B6526 FM transmitters that formed the backbone of the re-engineering of the BBC’s network.
However, this range of activities needed an authoritative voice that could cut through the problems and make a decision. Ron was that man in Building 46.
He encouraged those who tried and put their best efforts into the job and brought the best out of his close associates but he did not have much time for those that did not pull their weight for Marconi’s.