MARCONI VETERANS NEWSLETTER SAVED AT LAST
I am sure you remember last years headline in Newsletter number six. “Death of Marconi Veterans Newsletter”. Well you saved it, at least for this issue and the next by sending in stories and other information. Many thanks to all of you who have contributed. Because of the excellent response some stories are held over until 2006. I appeal to all Veterans to continue to send in stories, photographs and any other useful information, which can be shared with fellow Veterans. We send out each year nearly 1500 copies of this Newsletter and there should be enough stories available for many of you to put pen to paper and send in to the Editor.
I have edited this Newsletter for the last seven issues but this is my last one. I find that my other interests have been severely curtailed over the last few years and therefore I have decided to “hang up my boots”. No doubt another Editor will be found and to him or her I wish every success. I have enjoyed very much piecing together the news which I know interests many Veterans, however, many times I have felt frustrated at the lack of interest by not receiving good stories. Perhaps one of you would like to take on this task of Editor and if you are interested, please drop a line to our new Secretary, Barry Powell who is featured later in this Newsletter.
New Veterans Secretary Takes Over
Bernard Hazelton, who has been the Marconi Veterans Secretary for the last sixteen years, has handed over the reins to Selenia Communications employee, Barry Powell who is based at Marconi House, New Street Chelmsford. Bernard and his ever-helpful friend and part-time secretary Carole Irvine were based at the old Marconi Research Laboratories at Gt. Baddow. Marconi Veterans are exceedingly grateful for the work both Bernard and Carole have put in over many years. The stories of Bernard and Barry are printed below together with a photograph of the two at the “handover” ceremony.
New Veterans Secretary Barry Powell (L) receiving congratulations from Retiring Secretary Bernard Hazelton
Musings of the Retiring Secretary
After retiring from Marconi Marine in 1988 following a long career in the Personnel Department both at New Street, then the new building in Westway, I found time hanging rather heavily on my hands. I had tried a couple of part-time jobs without much satisfaction until I heard that the Secretary of MVA had to retire for family reasons. I felt my long association with the Companies and experience could be of benefit to the MVA and applied for the job. I was interviewed by the Chairman, Robin Seaton and “Father of the Association”, Alf (Ben) Burnell, who accepted me. I had a short hand-over by the Secretary, Sid Smith, in the office which was in the old Social Club/School building on the corner of New Street and Victoria Road. We were under the control of the Chelmsford Services Unit of the Marconi Company and my letter of appointment confirming the start date of 28th August 1989 was sent by John Neate, Personnel Manager. We later moved to the cottage at the old Railway Sidings, then to Baddow (two venues). I have seen many changes, brought about mainly by the decline in the Company fortunes, but the Chairman and Committee Members I have been associated with are excellent people who have worked so hard to make our Association a success. I feel the future is in good hands and I wish you all good health, happiness and success. I have been invited to join the Committee which I am very pleased to accept and hope I can still help in any way possible. I also wish Barry Powell as enjoyable and rewarding a tenure as I have had and feel sure he will be a first class Secretary.
Who’s this young Upstart, taking over as Secretary?
Um, Er, Are they talking about me? I suppose they are!
Well let’s dispel one myth anyway. I am 55, which my son keeps telling me is positively ancient so that gets rid of the “young”. Mind you, I’m still young enough to stand on the terraces for 90 minutes plus half time in the football season and I will not consider myself as getting old until bits start dropping off!
I was born, at a very early age, in North London, grew up in the Essex countryside and, having made a complete mess of my ‘A’ levels, decided that the then Marconi Company could have the benefit of my inexperience.
I joined in 1968 as a Technician Apprentice and gained an HNC in Electrical & Electronic Engineering. With the split into two businesses (Radar & Comms), I found myself on the Radar side. On qualifying, I joined the Installations group working at the PCTA at Baddow and at Rivenhall. I also did a six-month stint in Abu Dhabi, installing a radar system. From there, I moved into PDS and then into Sales working for Paul Baird (amongst others). After a few years with STC at Basildon, I returned as Proposals Manager for the Computer Systems Division of Marconi Communications Systems Ltd. (now Selenia Communications).
I now cost and price the requirements of tenders submitted by Selenia Communications, preparing the various spreadsheets required by the Management to approve bids.
I am married with a son and live on Canvey Island (yes! I know! Someone’s got to!). My Wife, Christine, used to be the assistant to the editor of a gardening magazine and is, herself, a keen gardener. She has offered to help me when things get a bit busy with the annual reunion.
Amongst my hobbies are supporting Canvey Island FC (Nationwide Conference, at last! – after 3 years as runners-up), my music collection, stamp collecting and DIY. We are members of the National Trust and English Heritage and enjoy visiting their various Houses and Gardens.
We have a static caravan on the North Norfolk coast where we hide out some weekends and I like to collect old postcards of the area, find the location and then try to take an up to date picture as a comparison.
Well, now you know what makes me tick! (Did I miss out the ‘h’?)
If I have crossed paths with any Veteran, I would be delighted to hear from them (unless it’s about that fiver, in which case, it must have been somebody else!)
On a more serious note, I would like to thank Bernard for his efforts over the last 15 years and also his help during the handover period. I just hope I can do the job as well as he has!
I can be contacted on 01245 275234 (direct line) Monday to Friday from 7.30 am to 4.00 p.m. (3.30pm Friday) or through this website. My mail address is: Barry Powell, Secretary, Marconi Veterans’ Association, Room 201, Marconi House, Selenia Communications Limited, New Street, Chelmsford, Essex, CM1 1PL
Do You Remember This?
Ralph Worricker at the Studio/Transmitter Annual Re-Union held in early October handed this photograph to the Editor. It transpires the photograph was taken in the old Instrument Shop New Street at Christmas 1946 when AdmiraI Grant, the then Managing Director, addressed the assembled factory staff whom he called his “Ships Company”. It is difficult to put names to all the people sitting behind Admiral Grant but, at the far end is Brian Sargent’s Grandfather whose son Les was for many years in MWTCo. The Mayor of Chelmsford was in attendance and as far as we can gather this was Alderman Sidney C. Taylor who owned the Essex Weekly News as well as The Lord Mayor of London.
Were you one of the employees? Do you recognise any of the people in the photograph? Please drop a line to our Secretary with as much information as possible.
Marconi Veterans Re-Union 2005
This will take place on Saturday 16th April at the MASC in Beehive Lane, Chelmsford commencing at 1:00pm. Our President this year is George Hill who at one time was Managing Director of Marconi International Marine Company Ltd., and before his retirement, MD of MKAS, Marconi Communications manufacturing outlet in Turkey.
Our Guest of Honour is Chelmsford Borough Councillor Christopher Kingsley, who at one time was an MWTCo employee and is now a Lecturer at the Sixth Form College in Colchester. Christopher is Cabinet Member of Chelmsford Borough Council for Arts and associated projects including the Marconi Archives and the Marconi Statue.
Chelmsford a Stroll through Time
Copies of the Editors book pictured here are now available price £5.00 plus 75p postage and packing. 50% of the price goes towards Marconi Veterans Association Funds. Send your cheque made out to Peter Turrall c/o Marconi Veterans Secretary, Barry Powell at Selenia Communications Ltd., Marconi House, New Street, Chelmsford, Essex, CM1 1PL.
Fellow Veterans, your Subscriptions are now due. You will be pleased to know that your Committee have recommended that the subscription for 2005 should remain at £5.00 and you are invited to send this plus any additional amount you feel able to afford to Barry Powell, the Marconi Veterans Association Secretary utilising the separate form enclosed with this Newsletter.
This is now up and running. Those of you who are on the Internet can view the latest information by tuning into http://www.marconiveterans.com Veteran Chris Gardiner ex Broadcasting Division of Marconi Communications is our Webmaster and he endeavours to keep up with all the latest events, which might interest Veterans.
A few more entries than last time have been received. These are printed below
David Fripp “One more electric shock off this ****contraption and I’ll give it a good hand bagging” and “I much preferred the, old Cigar Box cobber”
Charles Boyton “My man, Remove this contraption immediately”, “Do I spit or speak” and “Is this the latest Breathalyser”
David Speake “Now I would like to give you my latest recipe for a dish of peaches and ice cream”
Brian Bowsher “If you do that to me again, I’ll hit you with my handbag”
Gordon Snell “The train standing at Platform 10 is for……………..” and “Let’s twist again like we did last Summer”
Godfrey Aiers “No you can’t sing, Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport” and “Marconi invents the voice operated Food Dispenser”
John Cowburn “I’ll have to get some more nuts for the Bluetits” and “Why can’t we get a bird feeder from Wyevale like everyone else”
After careful consideration the Editor has decided to award one of his books ” Chelmsford, A Stroll through time” to Charles Boyton for his caption “Do I spit or speak”
Ex Marconi Veteran’s President Awarded MBE
George Johnson, ex Marconi International Marine Company, past President of Marconi Veterans Association and also ex Mayor of Welsh town Colwyn Bay was awarded last year the MBE in a ceremony, which George attended at Buckingham Palace. George now confined to a wheel chair, regularly attends the Veterans Annual Re-Union and is still very active on various Committees in North Wales where he projects the aims and requirements of people who are either wheelchair bound or have varying disabilities. Congratulations George.
The Fewing Oven
As a personal reminiscence while working at the Basildon plant I visited the Baddow establishment to visit a Professor Fewing in my guise as a test equipment engineer. The purpose was to build equipment to test the remarkable crystal oven he had invented. The oven consisted of a cavity for a 37 type crystal surrounded by Naphtha otherwise “Moth balls” which in the active state was kept in a partly molten state by a wire element. The melting point of Naphtha being remarkably constant, resulted in a very stable condition for the contained crystal. The melting point of the Naphtha was controlled by bellows on the container operating a micro switch. During the first production run at Basildon, due to faulty adjustment of the bellows micro switch or leaks in the container, resulted in jets of molten naphtha and explosions in some cases. Fortunately the ovens were tested in a strong temperature varied oven. The test personnel who worked with the ovens could always be identified by the smell. I have no memory of the frequency stability obtained with crystals in the Fewing oven, but it was beyond the capabilities of electronic counters in the 1950s to measure. Perhaps your archives may reveal who used them and what the stability was. Or indeed is Professor Fewing still with us.
p.s. Professor Fewing died in 2002
A Welcome Visitor
As you are looking for more input to the Veterans Newsletter may I submit the following account of an incident, which took place at New Street in the late sixties or early seventies. I was not one of those actually involved in the drama, but was working in TV Test at the time. A young African TV engineer arrived at the front entrance one day, having come by taxi from Heathrow. There had been no previous correspondence with the Company concerning his visit and he spoke only French so it took a while to discover the purpose of his visit. It transpired that he had come from one of the small West African states (I can’t remember exactly which one) in the President’s private jet, bringing with him the entire complement of TV cameras (three in number) from the country’s one and only Television Station. The cameras were Marconi Mk.V Image Orthicons and none were in working order. He had orders not to return until they were all fully operational. I understand that the TV Service was left to run on a small continuity studio and a couple of Telecine machines. I must say that the Company pulled out all the stops with full co-operation between Broadcast Division, the Works and TV Test. Transport was despatched to Heathrow to extricate the equipment from Customs and, after an initial assessment by TV Test, wiremen and fitters worked overtime to strip down, repair and rebuild the cameras and their associated control units. Finally TV Test put them through a rigorous re-testing programme. As I remember it, the whole exercise was completed in less than a week. While all this was taking place, Broadcast Division arranged accommodation and hospitality for the young engineer. I know nothing of the financial side of the story, but I suspect he had a blank cheque from his Government to pay whatever it cost to get them working again. I hope this article may prompt others who were actually involved in the episode to contribute their recollections, and hopefully, correct any inaccuracies in my account.
A Personal View of Marconi over 42 years from 1946-1988
My look back at the mixture of individuals who, in spite of minor disasters, somehow or other helped to turn Marconi into a major Company. Many would not have got past the modern style of personnel department or fitted any mould but somehow gelled together to achieve results. As the biggest misfit of all, I journeyed through the Company like the proverbial Jew leaving a few signatures on test specs and drawings and being remembered by the people I sheltered with on the way for staying too long. I was lucky, survived, and came out the other end unlike Fred Piper and Ray Weatherhead and countless others who fell by the wayside.
After serving in the Fleet Air Arm as a radar mechanic, I joined Marconi via the College and an interview with J.P. Wykes the Chief of Test in his office in the front of the old building in New Street. I was successful and ended up in Test Equipment in Building 29 under Joe Chamberlain. That’s the way I joined the Company, so now on to the people I worked with and all the other friendly people who helped me over the years.
J.P. Wykes could be hell to work for but, could be forgiven as he would never allow outside criticism of his staff. He was extremely helpful when anyone had a personal problem. Test Equipment staff were a bunch of idealist radicals, led by Freddy Roberts who, later became Labour Mayor of Chelmsford, at a time when Russia was considered to be a model society and we all believed we would live in a great new world. Mr. Tattersal was a gentleman of the old school who sported a twirly ended moustache and impeccable manners which were applied to everyone. He was at sea when the Titanic sent its S.O.S. message and the message he received, sent the ship he was on steaming towards the area. Lady Telford, who was then Betty Shelley, provided the clerical backup.
Who remembers the winter of 46-47 when we survived with no heating and a few portable generators in the yard to provide a limited power supply? Were you in the main works when Admiral Grant assembled his “ships company” to announce the take over by English Electric? How many of you remember Miss Partridge, a tester in the Standards Room, who rode a 250cc motor bike, smoked a pipe, liked a pint with the lads but still managed to remain feminine? Did anyone know her Christian name, as I never did?
I was sent from Test Equipment to Aircraft Test in the old Skating Rink in London Road with its coke stoves and no windows, where in winter, you went in when it was dark and were surprised to see that it was snowing at lunchtime. Alternatively, did I turn up at the palatial establishment at Pottery Lane which I remember as a group of Nissen huts somewhere behind Mr. Webbers Browning Meadow along the Broomfield Road. George Barratt was the Shop Foreman here and his team assembled the English Electric television set, a post war Marine Receiver and an Echo Sounder. Design of the television set had been done in the Research Labs at Baddow. Did Barry Sitch and I tune the receiver module of the television as fast as we could so we could pull George’s leg about not being able to keep up. Ken Paisley did the overall testing and when we ran out of work we would watch Andy Pandy and the Flower Pot Men in the afternoon as few people had even seen television at that time. Reg Bowler supervised the rest of testing and had a small office labelled “Chief of Test”. This survived until Mr. Wykes arrived when he was told to take it down because “there’s only one Jesus Christ here”.
At the Skating Rink aircraft equipment was assembled by Ben Burnell with his Chargehand Tel Harris and a very experienced crew including Jack and Bernard who worked together for so long that, like an old married couple, they communicated without talking. I joined Reg Norfolk’s team which had a square loop aerial. This was fitted within the fuselage of an aircraft. The square window in the aircraft cracking, was the cause of the early Comet Aircraft crashes. My next job was preparing for the testing of the prototypes of “Green Satin” which was the first of the generation of Doppler Navigators. I worked with the Development Group at Writtle learning about the equipment, writing test specifications, liaising with Test Equipment on making the necessary jigs. Ask Bill Claydon about the trials and tribulations of producing those first few prototypes. How was it that a state of the art equipment was developed in a wooden hut on a site that regularly flooded in the winter and, where transport for most of the staff involved was their cycles? Testing of the prototypes was done in the annexe at the Rink. Charles Griffths didn’t seem to turn a hair when a heavy steel can was blown off the Transmitter Unit on pressure test, hitting the sloping ceiling and hitting the deck; it would have caused a nasty accident if it had hit anyone. At this juncture Aircraft Division went to Basildon and Green Satin production was completed at New Street, the testing being done in the old Canteen. You will all remember very tall electrician Bill Clements and his five foot nothing mate who carried out the necessary wiring.
Next was Receiver Test with a Microwave Television Link, designed by RCA, handed over to Microwave Development Section at Writtle with an embargo on any changes. This must rate as the worst ever equipment produced by the Company and when it was sold to the Russians for 625 line working, when it was designed for 525 line working this generated a few problems. Do you remember the Outside Broadcast Vehicle with Russian markings which stood in the yard for several weeks? Taffe Dawson reminded me the last time we met that he was the apprentice helping me on the Baddow Tower when we carried out the tests between there and the Radar masts at Bromley. 30 mile Range tests from Bromley to the Water Tower at Aldeburgh were a complete fiasco due to a very low bank of hills. Being stuck on the top of a Water Tower for two days in the winter when you’re sure within an hour or so that there is no signal, doesn’t improve your temper. Do you remember Receiver Test before the perimeter cage was fitted where people built “hidey holes” behind pinned up drawings?
Mr. Wykes had moved on to become Manager of Maritime Division and he offered me a job in Technical Sales. Here I met Dick Rocker and George Brunton and through him ships installation engineer Dicky Cann. The latter two were a pleasure to work and drink with and were known and welcomed in every shipyard and on every ship I visited. At the end of a year I complained that I hadn’t enough to do and was loaned to Maritime Development. At the end of three years I was wiped off the Divisions books but as Development wasn’t told I belonged to nobody.
I worked with Charles Burnham on the Naval version of the Wideband Amplifier which was used on ICS 2 and 3 and eventually sold to America for their Helicopter Landing Ships. At this time Jimmy Gould developed the 1500 Synthesiser which was used on many equipment’s and must hold the record for sales of any design. There was some field-work and I once flew from London to Glasgow with Charles Burnham and travelled on a bus to Greenock accompanied by a drunken Scotsman who played his bagpipes. When he paused he berated the two Sassenach’s who dared travel on his bus. We stayed in an old hotel in Gounrock, sharing a large double bedroom, lit by one ceiling light which was fitted with a single forty watt bulb. When we turned on the bedside lamps, the centre lamp went out. We were working on the conversion of wartime frigates to weather ships at Greenock Shipbuilders and eventually we sailed on the 5am tide and returned at 9pm. A very long day, but a sail down the Clyde Valley and round Ailsa Crag on a beautiful sunny day is something everybody should experience at least once in their lifetime.
I could carry on but getting back to more mundane things Maritime Development was split with the commercial side going to the Marine Co at Widford and the Defence Comms moving to Billericay. I think this was to squeeze in the first printed circuit unit into New Street at the top of the yard. I went with Defence Comms to Billericay where we stayed for about 2years. There was a big fuss about moving but nothing like the fuss that arose when we moved back: proving that there’s nowt so strange as folks. Memories of Billericay were Steak and Kidney pie and bar billiards in the Red Lion, cheap shirts from the adjacent shirt factory and travelling across Galleywood Common in Tony Evan’s old Ford on dark snowy nights with the windscreen wipers driven or not driven from the manifold and with its one candlepower headlights.
Waterhouse Lane must have been our destination and I was here for several years during which time I became more involved in Post Design Support. This involved solving problems on ICS 2 at Widford and Wembley and also engineering support to Post Design Services at Widford. This period is rather fluffy as I had so many masters and so many fingers in different pies. Where was Defence Comms section when the ETG was developed? Would I be right in thinking we had a berth in the Radar Company for a while? ETG was interesting as we mounted a 30ft transmitter whip on top of a large fin cooled casting, Ron Sewell did the casting design and we ended up with a good looking unit which was easy to mount. I had a week in Holland at Vlissingen (Flushing) which was a combined seaside town, Ferry-Port with a shipbuilding yard when the Dutch frigates were being set to work. An enjoyable week as the shipyard closed at 5pm leaving Martin, my colleague, and I to have a pleasant evening meal in a small moated town in one or other of the restaurants in the town square.
When Mr. Sosin became Manager, he insisted I should work for Dennis Hart in Building 46 so I had a new boss but carried on doing the same sort of work except that my visits now included Whitehall, the bunker at Northwood, with its patrolling armed guards with dogs, the Nimrod Airfield in Scotland and the Naval communication bases at Crimond in Scotland and another situated near Fleetwood. During this period Bob Nice took over as Manager and when Support Services PDS contracts expanded and required a full time engineer, I was allocated to Widford2 but was responsible to Bob Nice. Most of my work was then with the Navy and because ships were only available for very short periods and at short notice, I worked closely with the Fleet Liaison Officer, much to their annoyance who only knew that we were spending their money after a fixed arrangement had been made. However, we had Sid Johnson in the middle placating the Marconi Contract Manager and the MOD civil servants. He was a great peacemaker. A great time this with ship visits, days at sea, trips on submarines, and visits to aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines.
At the end of March 88 I retired and now looking back, realise that it couldn’t have been like this, could it, we never all helped each other and all of us were not programmed to laugh when we should have cried. When I now think back and say I’m glad I joined, I must surely have finally lost my marbles.
Should this self indulgent ramble ever see the light of day the editor is, of course, responsible but, I am responsible for errors and omission. I expect the next thing will be a lot of letters in the next issue telling me how wrong I am.
Another interesting Newsletter. Thank you for all your efforts on this. Hopefully it will not be the last but as you say it’s up to the members now. Should there be another issue perhaps you would like to take notice of the following:
1. Jimmy Leadbitter refers to MWT being taken over by English Electric in the 1950’s. It was actually 1946.
2. In Peter Bickers article on New England in the Fall he refers to The Station being operated as Marconi Wireless Telegraph Station of America. In fact it was Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Company of America, a wholly-owned subsidiary of MWT, which operated the Station. Because of U.S. political pressures associated with the fact that here was a U.K. controlled company operating in America on what were considered “Defence” related areas it was thought prudent to dispose of the MWT shareholding and this was successfully achieved as part of the subsequent formation arrangements for the Radio Corporation of America whereby the shares of Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph of America were exchanged for shares in this new company, which was floated on the New York Stock Exchange. The RCA shares were subsequently sold.
The Lizard Wireless Station
The Lizard Wireless Station is probably the only surviving operational Marconi Station in the world. It is housed in the original Great Western Railway hut and is equipped today as it was in 1903.
Members of the Marconi Veterans Association are very welcome to visit the site. The Housel Bay Hotel, where Marconi stayed in 1900, welcomes visitors and will offer special off season rates. It is within walking distance of the Marconi station. For information please phone 01326 290417.
In South West Cornwall there is a number of sites associated with Marconi. In addition to the Lizard there is the Marconi Centre and Marconi Monument at Poldhu. Goonhilly Earth Satellite Station still uses Marconi equipment and Porthcurno has a superb Submarine Cable Museum. On the road into the county you will pass the site of the old Bodmin Beam Station (not open to the public).
If you require a private opening of the Lizard site please contact David Barlow (ex MIMCo) on 01326 240738. Further details available in the Lizard and Meneage Guide.
We look forward to seeing you.
Past Employees New Book
I am responding to your request for material for your Newsletter, though with some misgivings – I feel that perhaps between my recent book “The History of the Radio Officer in the Merchant Navy & on Deep Sea Trawlers” (Alas I couldn’t get the title any shorter !) and various activities a little bit of hush from me would not be out of place.
It occurs to me that some old friends and colleagues (not always synonymous) might be amused to learn what happened to me after I resigned as Personnel and Operating Manager of Marconi Marine in 1971.
My resignation had three main causes : I knew that the Company was going rapidly downhill (the direct employment of Radio Officers and growing tendency of ship-owners not to rent their equipment, and to buy elsewhere), I fell out with D.P. Fumeaux, the then Managing Director, and my own personnel problems. The latter I resolved very successfully twenty years ago when I changed gender; which cleared up a great deal, and yet left me free to carry on exactly as before with my own work and interests.
I went back to sea in 1974 for ten wonderful years, earning huge wages (far more than I received as Personnel as Operating Manager in charge of Sea staff, Shore staff, Training, Radio Traffic, and Accounts). In 1982/3 I was Chief R/O of the troopship “ St Edmund” down in the South Atlantic and Falklands for eight months during which I earned £28,000 including War Risk Money. I then retired in Swansea, from where I did a couple of round the world voyages before settling down to my various interests – antiquarian horology (I have a house full of grandfather clocks) writing, painting, and extensive foreign travel. In 1995 I drove by road with a friend from Bombay to Amritsar in the Punjab, and then in the face of all the well meaning advice of friends I went up to Kashmir and had a wonderful month there in a houseboat on the Dal Lake. In later years I was trekking in the lower Himalayas, and had several long stays in Katmandu and Pokhara. I go to the south of France every year, and have been to the USA several times to lecture on Swansea Clocks.
In the 19th century 90% of the world’s copper was smelted in the Swansea Valley and the ore was brought, mostly from Chile by a type of vessel known as a barque. Swansea seamen were famous the world over and I wrote “The History of the Swansea Copper Barques & Cape-Horners” which sold all over the world and I am told is becoming a collector’s piece. And so it goes on; the words “total lack of moderation” come to mind, but I have no intention of changing. In fact it’s getting worse.
I had a new knee two years ago, which has been a great success, and life today seems as much an oyster to be opened as it did when I was seventeen. Thank Heaven there is no justice in this world!
I too am a little diffident towards running the risk of boring your readers by reminiscing about my extended service with the Marconi Company – but, as Douglas Camp put it so aptly, you did ask for it!
My contribution follows!
I was demobbed from, the RAF in July 1946 having spent the previous five years as a pilot, touring the world at the country’s expense. In that comparatively short space of time I had visited Canada, The States, the British West Indies, North Africa, India, Ceylon and Burma. I also spent a few months in the United Kingdom! There were inevitably some dodgy moments but on the whole I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the RAF, but the freedom and lack of real responsibility came to an abrupt end when I was forced to begin searching for suitable employment.
For some months I was frustratingly unsuccessful. Ultimately a cousin, who was the assistant Works Manager, suggested I should approach his employers, The Marconi Company – to see if they could help. I was a little unhappy about possible suggestions of nepotism, but gratefully accepted an appointment in the Commercial Department, affectionately known as Jolly’s Follies, in its Publicity Office. Commander Jolly, the Department Manager, was a prodigy of the then General Manager, Admiral Grant, who always referred to the Marconi staff as “his ship’s company”. He knew everyone by sight and most by name, but this very pleasant closeness was rapidly eroded a short time later when the English Electric Company came on the scene and we all became just numbers on the Company payroll. I was not impressed by spending my hours composing press releases about products I had never seen and had no idea what they were intended to do, and so when I was asked if I would be interested in a temporary two-week secondment to the Aeronautical Division, I jumped at the chance.
The Aeronautical Division, managed by L.A. Sweny, an ex-RNAS Commander, was scattered over New Street, Hackbridge and Croydon, both in Surrey, and Writtle. The latter was a small development establishment, mainly comprising a collection of World War 1 wooden huts with a modest modern factory, in a delightful rural setting. It’s current task, when I arrived there, was the development of an innovative generation of miniature communication and direction-finding equipments, hopefully to be installed in the many postwar aircraft beginning to emerge from British and foreign factories no longer engaged in satisfying military requirements. The Chief Engineer was Christopher Cockerell who later retired from the Company to concentrate on the development of the Hovercraft and becoming internationally famous as its Father. As I had only recently bade farewell to the Royal Air Force, this appointment enabled me to preserve a welcome continuity of contact with aeroplanes which had constituted a very large part of my life during the five previous years. In fact, many of my new working colleagues were ex-RAF and so our little community, comfortably housed in our old wooden huts in the wastes of wildest Essex, and openly exhibiting the RAF’s light-hearted approach to life in general, was really like a Service unit in civvy clothes! Therefore the transition to my new lifestyle was enjoyable and not too much of a shock to the system. We had to work hard and the hours were long, but the challenge was a satisfying one – we were, after all, breaking new ground by introducing an altogether novel technology – and I like to think we were successful, despite the almost hourly crises and traumas. Among the aircraft in which we were exclusively involved included the Dove and Devon and later the Comet being built by the de Haviland Company, a generation of new designs from the Airspeed Aircraft Company, and the Canadair DC4 fleet bought from Canada and being operated by BOAC over its long-haul routes. In due course, in the interests of economy, most of the Division was brought under one roof on the fourth floor of Marconi House, and the free and easy life we had enjoyed away from Head Office while at Writtle largely disappeared. However, it soon became apparent that New Street’s production capacity was insufficient to cope with the growing demands of both the Communication and Aeronautical Divisions, and so, in 1954, the latter was given exclusive use of the Company’s new factory at Basildon, with some of the staff, including myself, actually moving home into the New Town.
In 1963 I was prevailed upon by my brother-in-law to join the family entertainment company in London and so, with some misgivings, I left Marconi’s for The Big Smoke. The two-week probation with Aeronautical Division had stretched into an unbroken seventeen years! Sadly I was not impressed either with the type of business in which I was then involved or with living in the City and, after giving both a fair crack of the whip, I approached Marconi’s on the off-chance they could find me a suitable slot.
I was interviewed by Communications, Radar and Closed Circuit Television and opted for Radar, joining them at Cromptons in Writtle Road. I had as a consequence swapped Aeronautical’s little sets which were built in weeks and weighed just a few pounds for Radar’s massive equipment which took many months to build and was weighed in tons!
The Writtle Road site of some twenty-six acres was strictly Victorian and shortly after my return the Company embarked on an unbelievably expensive programme of modernisation in which I, as Establishments Manager, was heavily involved. This was probably one of the most interesting and exciting phases of my time with Marconi’s which only ended when I was appointed Administration and Security Manager at UKADGE in London, an equally exciting consortium of three great companies, Marconi, Plessey and Hughes of America, involved in the development and installation of a unique Command and Control system for the defence of the United Kingdom. That multi-million pound contract was still very much in progress when my sell-by date came up and I retired in 1987.
Without shadow of doubt I can say I enjoyed every moment of my years with the Company and am grateful for the privilege of working with so many real friends.
The Dance of the Dragon
Thank you so much for all your work in producing the MVA Newsletter which is such a valuable source of many hitherto unknown facts about the Company and its people.
Your article on the royal visit to Poldhu in 1903 recalled an incident in a book called “The Dance of the Dragon” by Paul Broadhurst and Hamish Miller. Briefly, this is an account of a journey of exploration that took the author and three friends, from an ancient hermitage on an island off the southwest of Ireland, across Cornwall to France, Italy, Greece and Israel. They were following two lines of natural earth energy, Apollo and Athena, by dowsing. It took them some ten years in their spare time, during which they made many remarkable discoveries, one of which is described as follows:
“We returned to Gunwalloe to follow Apollo on his journey across the south-western corner of the Lizard. We tracked the line running within a few feet of a large hotel, now a retirement home, overlooking Poldhu Cove and saw some sort of monument ahead, perched on the top of the cliff. Apollo was heading straight for it. When we arrived and read the inscription on the front we realized that this place held a very special significance in the history of the 20th century. The memorial commemorated the occasion, on 12th December 1901, when three dots of the morse code – the letter S – were transmitted from Poldhu and picked up through a small earphone in the ear of Guglielmo Marconi 2,000 miles away in Newfoundland. In the first year of the new century a revolution in international communications had begun at this remote Cornish clifftop which had laid the foundations for the modern world.
“That Marconi was a genius cannot be denied, for he was largely responsible for the world of communications as we know it today. His interests were wide-ranging, and he is even alleged by some researchers to have been involved in time-travel experiments. He personally selected Poldhu as one of two sites on the Lizard for his pioneering work and spent a considerable amount of time there exploring the possibility of long-distance transmissions. He became a well-known figure in the area, staying at nearby Mullion and receiving royal recognition when the Prince and Princess of Wales visited the Poldhu radio station in 1903”.
“Yet we find ourselves asking why did Marconi choose this particular site? Obviously it fulfilled many of the necessary topographical requirements, but was there something more? Is it possible that he found something inspirational at this place that appealed to his sensitive and questing nature? Did he “tune in” to the energies of the Apollo Line and use its spiritual powers to initiate a new current in human evolution? These questions may strike some as curious, but in our experience there are many intriguing examples of dramatic forward evolutionary leaps linked with these psycho/spiritual currents of energy. Perhaps, in some unquantifiable way, Marconi was the modern equivalent of a priest, or prophet of the coming age, and as such was guided by forces he himself did not entirely understand”.
Whether or not you are a dowser, or just have an open and inquiring mind, Paul Broadhurst’s fascinating book provides much food for thought. It is published by Pendragon Press, PO Box 888, Launceston, Cornwall, PL15 7YH at £18.50 + £4.00 p+p.
You requested material for the next Newsletter, but as I cannot think of any suitable stories at the moment, I thought you might consider some humour instead.
When I worked in New Street there was a humorous notice circulating in the early 1970’s which I thought was funny, so I kept a copy.
It has come to the notice of the Management that employees have been found dying on the job and either refusing or neglecting to fall over.
This practice must cease forthwith and employees found dead in an upright position will be stopped from the pay-roll.
In future, if a foreman notices an employee has made no movement for a period of 1 hour, it will be his duty to investigate as to the cause, as it is almost impossible to distinguish between death and natural movement of some employees.
Foremen are advised to make a very careful investigation by holding a pay packet in front of the suspected corpse as this is considered to be a most reliable test, there are, however, cases where the natural instinct has been so deeply ingrained that the hand of the corpse has made spasmodic clutches after rigor mortis has set in.
The most successful test is to whisper ” Sunday Work “. This has been known to restore animation to a body which has been motionless all the week.
The foregoing test should not be applied to foremen or assistant foremen, as in these cases movement of any kind is unnecessary.
Seeing your appeal for more contributions to the Newsletter, I thought that I had better do something about it! I passed out as an RAF Apprentice in 1943 and subsequently had many strange connections with Marconi. My first posting was to RAF West Drayton and found myself doing acceptance testing on SWB8 vehicle mounted transmitters. I also tested the first 1 kW VHF transmitters – I cannot remember who designed them but I hope it was not Bill Barbone, as the designer failed to interlock the door to the lecher bars necessitating a switch off – open door – tune- close door – switch on sequence being repeated many times! In the middle of the night, working alone, my sequencing failed me and I caught hold of the live bar.
I was given a knock out pill and woke up the following evening! Since 18 year olds were deemed to be infants in those days, the formal enquiries took some time.
About two years later a group of Cranwell apprentices plus a stray Flight Lieutenant were gathered together on a secret course in a tatty but hidden at the back of the balloon sheds at Cardington. The subject single sideband transmission! The only person who failed the course and was sent packing was the Flight Lieutenant. After many supplementary bits of training at various places including the GPO Cambridge we were shunted off to the sites chosen across the world – in my case to the Egyptian desert.
If my memory serves me right the transmitters were SWB10’s. However we had about 60 transmitters on site so that SSB was only part of the scene. Many were American lend-lease and the main distinction was that each sandstorm caused the latter to go into parasitics whereas the SWB8’s and SWB1O’s did not mind in the least.
Here we learned a few things that the natives could do which even the transmitter group could not have anticipated! The most spectacular was to steal the beautiful Marconi timber boxes which contained the termination loads for multi-rhombic antennas in the middle of night shift without electrocuting themselves or tripping the transmitters. The other trick was to cut the best quality cables, hitch a camel and drag a suitable length out.
When I finished 14 years in the RAF, I applied to the Company and within a week I was involved in SSB drive and receiver testing!
Subsequent work led to being attached to Pat Keller’s group at Writtle to study the testing of the first Automatic Error Correction equipment. In fact I ended up doing much of the design of the seven unit monitor before someone found out. After that came Widford Hall and the Central Test Equipment Research Unit and a number of years involved in developing automatic testing equipment, etc. I still have the ancient key to Widford Hall!
Originally when we took over Widford Hall it was moated. The owner then had the moat filled in and when we went to work on the following day the moorhen which had occupied the moat was sitting in a puddle in front of the house.
The breadth of equipment covered by the old Marconi Company and the range of expertise of the people involved was really quite staggering, particularly as loyalty rather than salary was the key factor in preserving the know-how! There was always someone who knew the answer.
Post retirement, I enjoyed about 8 years as a visiting lecturer at the Marconi College training about 600 RAF and industry personnel in RF radiation safety and published two books on the subject. During this time we had a spare radar at Bushey to play with! In addition we had mobile transmitters on the College lawn.
On the demise of the Marconi College I set up the course at another company in association with Mike Spalding and he has now taken it over and I am, at the age of 79, limited to gardening!
Ronald Kitchen BEM
Baddow Research & Radar Development
I joined Marconi Wireless Company in 1962 in the High Power Lab at Baddow under Dr. Coop as Manager and Robin Banks as Group Chief and Ken Perry as Section Chief.
The main project was “The Big Valve” in the lead lined pit. It was quite a project the like of which I had never seen before. Some of the engineers were Alan Cameron whom I knew at College, Trevor Robinson on Modulators, Dick Wood and Cliff on Microwaves.
When that project finished I changed from microwaves to Low Level drives with George Slack and David Cooper and Bruce Woodcock to start experimenting with transistors at `high’ frequencies (100MHz). This was an interesting situation as I went up the learning curve. Secondary Radar was a research project looming and it required a Transmitter Drive which became my work. It comprised amplifiers and frequency multipliers and this Transmitter Drive became feasible and went into production.
At this time Research and Radar split and Radar became Marconi Radar Systems. Its first project was GWS 25 later to be known as Seawolf in conjunction with BAe systems. By this time transistors were the norm and the Transmitter Drive and Multipliers employed transistors at Microwave frequencies and at powers of some watts.
At this point MRSL as it was known moved to Writtle Road in Chelmsford a move not entirely popular but sweetened by Flexi Time, the latter being nearly essential due to traffic problems in Chelmsford. Basically after GWS25 there was a number of new feasibility projects to explore at both higher frequencies and power as transistors became much more powerful at higher frequencies, also at this time high power modules were required to replace Klystrons. Eventually a single thermionic valve was replaced with many transistorized modules. This lead to Martello and that was when I retired in 1992 having stayed with Marconi for a few weeks short of 40 years!!
Having read the contribution to the last news letter, by Keith Benzie, of some examples of the humor at Bill Quay, I was reminded of an instance of unconscious humor told to me by Danny McOnie who was in charge of what was commonly referred to as ‘The Big Shop’ (by virtue of it’s size).
A labourer who worked in that shop was known as ‘Bumper’ and it was one of his daily duties to ensure that the boiler was switched on to provide the water for the tea at break in the morning. He also made Danny’s tea and brought it to his desk for him. One morning he brought the tea and Danny noticed that ‘Bumper was carrying it with his index finger in the handle and his thumb in the tea and said to him, “hey watch what you’re doing ‘Bumper’ you’ve got your thumb in my tea”. Quick as a flash ‘Bumper’ replied, “Oh its O.K. Mr McOnie it’s not too hot’. Danny did not bother with an explanation.
The Wrong Colour
Whilst redecorating our beach hut recently I was reminded of another Marconi experience, which you might think worthy of publishing. I was using a tin of paint, which Mary had bought from a Boot Sale. It was a different shade to the original – thus I had to paint all of it, instead of just the parts that needed touching up! … and … thereby hangs a tale…
When I was testing OB vans, we supplied a large 4-camera vehicle to RTB, the French-speaking Belgian national TV network. Written into the contract was a six-week evaluation period at the TV Centre in Brussels. This required a Marconi engineer to be on hand to sort out any teething troubles. As I had tested it, I got the job!
I should mention at this point that the Belgians were unusual in that they did not have the same colour for all their vehicles. Whereas, for example, the BBC vehicles were all dark green; at RTB and BRT (the Flemish speaking Network) each Crew Chief chose his own colour for his suite of vehicles. Our van was a lovely daffodil yellow, chosen from a Volkswagen car paint catalogue.
The vehicle was duly delivered to Brussels and I followed a few days later. I met up with the crew who would be operating it and, after the formalities of introductions, etc. were over, they took me down to where the van was parked. The studio complex had a wide corridor running its entire length with the French-speaking Service on one side and the Flemish-speaking Service on the other. At the far end of this corridor was a large OB garage shared by both Services. As we walked, I noticed my hosts exchanging grins and sidelong glances… I was soon to find out why!
In the garage were several groups of vehicles, neatly parked, in a variety of shades of red, blue and green. In pride of place in the centre was the Marconi van, with its two tender vans parked alongside, BUT … the other two were a completely different shade of yellow. More a golden, buttercup colour. If transpired that they also had selected their paint from a Volkswagen catalogue and it had exactly the same name as ours, but it was a different year of manufacture. Fortunately the outcome was OK for Marconi, as the Crew Chief liked our colour best and sent the other vehicles away to be resprayed.
R.I.P. Marconi Bowls Club
By the time you read this piece, the Marconi Bowls Club will have ceased to exist. In 1905 The M.W.T. Company set aside land on their Waterhouse Lane site for the recreational use of their employees. The various sporting activities that took place on this site eventually evolved into the Marconi Athletic and Social Club. At some stage between 1905 and 1923, no one is quite sure when, the Marconi Bowls Club was formed. The Club was first registered with the Essex County Bowling Association in 1923 and so it must have been formed some time before that date.
The Company’s involvement in the Club continued through the presence of Sir Robert Telford, who has always been a staunch supporter. He was elected as the first President of the Club and, in 1989, became its Life President.
The Club thrived and at one time had in excess of three hundred members. Such was its popularity that the Company had to ban the use of the green during lunchtime, thus ensuring that employees got back to work on time! The green itself developed a reputation as an excellent bowling surface and it has been used extensively by the Essex County Bowling Association and the Chelmsford and District Bowling Association for representative matches. The Club continued to prosper until the present day providing a sporting and social focus for two hundred members. The Club was thriving so why has it closed? What went wrong?
The first indication that the Club could face difficulties surfaced in 1997, when the Company put in outline planning permission to redevelop the Waterhouse Lane site. The reason given for this was that the Company wanted to consolidate many of its activities in one place instead of having a disparate collection of factory sites. Letters were written, consultations took place and it became clear that the Club had survived that crisis. What then proved to be a tragedy for employees, pensioners and investors, occurred. History has shown that there were a series of unwise investments, which meant that the Company, within a period of a few weeks, collapsed. No one could have foreseen this eventuality. As the Company imploded, our information is that large sections were sold off in a vain effort to stave off disaster. As a result of this policy, the Waterhouse Lane site was sold to Ashtenne Land for development purposes. It was obvious that this situation presented the Club with real problems and that there were to be no easy solutions. Despite negotiations with Ashtenne, Chelmsford Borough Council, lawyers, Sport England and anyone else who we thought could help, it became clear earlier this year that survival was impossible and the members bowed to the inevitable and began the process of closure.
October 2nd provided many bittersweet moments. There was a farewell match between present and past members of the Club and whilst there was much pleasure in renewed friendships there was also much sadness at the demise of this important part of Chelmsford. Most members have found other Clubs to bowl at and they will be happy there, but nothing will replace the unique atmosphere of the Marconi Bowls Club.
It is a salutary experience to identify what is left, in Chelmsford, of a once great Company. In which other town or city would such an important part of the world’s industrial heritage, and the man who started it all, be so ignored. There are always plans afoot to do something, but what happens? There is a sign telling visitors that Chelmsford is the home of radio, there is Marconi Road and there is a small statue of Marconi tucked away in the Records Office. And now the name of the Marconi Bowls Club has gone. Progress always has a price and, unfortunately, the Bowls Club has had to pay it.
The Editor received this photograph recently of the Marconi Fire Brigade. Unfortunately no date or names have been provided. Perhaps a Veteran who was a member of this well-known and very efficient Unit can come up with some details. The Editor has recognised Bill Munday and Fisher from Section 16.
Our Patron, Sir Robert Telford, has not been too well recently. The Editor has spoken to him regularly and also visited him at his home. Unfortunately he does not get out very often and relies on Lady Betty to transport him as he no longer drives his car. At the time of writing this note, Sir Robert has been diagnosed with Shingles, a very painful illness. We wish him a speedy recovery and he in turn sends best wishes to all Veterans.
Don’t get too concerned about Marconi House New Street. The Editor visited recently when scaffolding and plastic sheets covered the whole of the front. The MD advised that it was necessary to tidy up the paintwork and brickwork as this was deteriorating. The place is not for sale and in any case it already has a preservation order placed upon it. (Watch this space).
Due to the demise of the Marconi Bowls Club at Waterhouse Lane, the Veterans Committee have had to find a new place to meet for their quarterly meetings. The Selenia Comms MD has offered space at New Street and we are very grateful for this and our regular meetings will continue here. Meanwhile we would like to give a heartfelt thanks to Dot and Arthur Spooner who for many years have looked after the Veterans Committee at WHL. Dot deserves a welcome rest but Arthur will still continue as a member of the Veterans Committee.
The situation concerning our 2006 Re-union remains fluid. Various comments have been made that the MASC building in Beehive Lane will be relocated on a site up-field near the Tennis Courts. When this will happen is anybody’s guess but our Veterans Committee have got to keep an eye on the situation as the Re-Union is always booked one year in advance. If by any chance the new building is not completed then another outlet must be found. The ideal place has to have plenty of parking, be at a reasonable cost, and not too far from the centre of the town. There are not many places in Chelmsford which meet these requirements, but we are still looking and have one or two places in mind.
As there is not an Archivist familiar with Marconi history anymore, the Editor is often asked to assist wherever possible in providing helpful information, photographs or in some cases copies of extracts from books or newspapers. So far there has not been a problem and most queries have been answered. It would be helpful if any Veteran can list the names of any books relating to Marconi other than those detailed below; these are already available to the Editor. If any spare copy of these books are no longer required by Veterans then the Editor will be pleased to have them.
A History of the Marconi Company by W.J. Baker
Marconi Father of Radio by David Gunston
Marconi A War Record by George Godwin
Wireless at Sea by H.E. Hancock
Senor Marconi’s Magic Box by Gavin Weightman
Marconi A Biography by W.P. Jolly
My Father Marconi by Degna Marconi
Marconi’s Battle for Radio by Beverley Birch
Marconi My Beloved by Maria Cristina Marconi
Marconi’s Atlantic Leap by Gordon Bussey
Marconi at the Lizard by Courtney Rowe
Guglielmo Marconi by Keith Geddes & Iwama Takayoshi
All deaths reported to the secretary during the year can be found in the In Memoriam section
The walls of Jericho (Marconi) come tumbling down in Chelmsford
After 8 years of discussions with Chelmsford Borough Council on a very regular basis following the Agreement by The Marconi Company Ltd to gift the Marconi Archives to the local Borough Council, I regret to advise Veterans that I, acting on your behalf, have lost the battle to keep them in Chelmsford.
The new Marconi Corporation plc., have removed the Archives from the Great Baddow site, and delivered them to Oxford University, under a new Agreement signed with them recently. The reason stated by the Company is that they will be properly looked after there, and will be available for research by scientists etc., worldwide
This situation has arisen because Chelmsford Borough Council failed to find a suitable site to house them after they were gifted to the Borough Council, under an Agreement signed some eight years ago by the Chairman and Marketing Director of the then Marconi Company.
On behalf of The Marconi Veterans Association, I wrote to the Chairman and Communications Director of Marconi Corporation plc., expressing my own and Veterans complete annoyance of this untimely decision, and they have written back to advise that there will be no reversal. These Archives worth millions are now lost to Chelmsford and they will never be returned to the County Town.
This is a very sad situation and one I personally am very unhappy about. First of all I think the Borough Council must take the blame for not progressing the matter during the given timescale, and secondly that the Marconi Corporation have failed to understand the feelings of not only Marconi Veterans, but also the people of Chelmsford, and have reneged on an Agreement and the offer of cash, to gift the Archives to the Borough of Chelmsford.
It was Chelmsford not Oxford where Wireless was born. Marconi’s and the Archives were to be the backbone of the Boroughs request for City status. This will not now be possible. Some 9 years ago I fronted a battle with The Marconi Company supported by Princess Elettra, Lord Prior and The Essex Chronicle to stop the sale by Christies, London of these Archives, and we succeeded. Now we have no chance of ever seeing these Chelmsford made Archives ever again in the town, apart from the odd occasion when one or two items may be loaned to the Borough Council.
Marconi in Chelmsford started all the communications we know today, from raw beginnings in Wireless Telegraphy through to Wireless, Ships Communications, Radar, Computers, Television, Satellites, and Mobile Radio etc.. The world owes Marconi a great debt and all the design, development and manufacture of these products was carried out in Chelmsford.
From a personal point of view I feel betrayed and have told Marconi Corporation plc. so, but to no avail. I managed to get all the road signs on entry into the County town of Chelmsford erected, announcing that Chelmsford was the home of Radio (it should have been Wireless but Chelmsford Borough Council changed the word to radio). I was also a major advocate for the statue of Marconi, which was unveiled by Marconi’s daughter Princess Elettra two years ago, and still sits hidden in the bowels of Essex Record Office.
I will now bow out of pursuing the Marconi situation from now on as I feel I cannot do anymore. I have appeared on local radio and national television in an effort to progress the Marconi story and I have written umpteen letters and tied in with the local Essex Chronicle Newspaper to press forward our claims. I cannot do more and I will now retreat from the scene with much sadness.
I would like to thank those who have given me support both locally and nationally and I feel appalled that the people running Marconi Corporation plc., have made a decision against the feelings of Chelmsford people. I am certain a person or persons who have nothing whatsoever to do with Chelmsford, either in the past or in the present, must have made this decision.
One reads in the National Press that the Marconi Corporation plc., is doing so well that its executives can be certain of pay-offs worth millions of pounds and that their future pensions are well beyond the wildest dreams of the average ex-Marconi employee. Maybe on reflection they may try and consider that the decision they have made with the Marconi Archives will rest heavily on them in future years.
The name of Marconi will disappear in January 2005 from all Chelmsford based units as the Marconi Corporation plc., has made a decision that the name Marconi must only appear at their Head Office in London and those units which come under their direct control.
Chelmsford put wireless on the world’s map and it was here that the very first wireless broadcast was made by Dame Nellie Melba. Marconi was also involved in the formation of the BBC when the Marconi equipment at Marconi House London formed the basis of the BBC’s early broadcasts.
And so the BBC as we know it today had Marconi to thank for this.
Chelmsford based employees and ex-employees of Marconi, must feel annoyance and sadness that our County town has no more associations with the name of Marconi in its factories or offices – just the memory of a world famous Italian who gave so much to his staff, families and many countries throughout the World.
Peter A.T. Turrall MBE
Marconi Veterans Association December 2004
Peter Turrall MBE has compiled this Newsletter. Inputs for next issue should be sent to The Secretary, Marconi Veterans Association, Mr. Barry Powell, c/o Selenia Communications Ltd, Marconi House, New Street, Chelmsford, Essex, CM1 1PL. The views expressed in this Newsletter are those of individuals and are not necessarily those of the Editor or The Marconi Veterans Association.