In Memoriam

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

Clifford Stanley Barham1956
Lester Carl Bearcroft1965
Billy (Bill) Orton Cooke1935
Malcolm Trevor Daniels1954
David A Hills1959
James (Jimmy) Anderson Leadbitter1942
Dr John R Mark1956
Mrs Audrey D Parmenter1944
Robert Reeve1949

This list was correct on 01 December 2016 and supersedes the list published on 24 October 2016

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, starting with this post, included Given names where these are known to us.

Bill Cooke

We regret to report the death of Bill Cooke on 17 November aged 96.  Bill was Chief Engineer, Managing Director and finally Chairman of Eddystone Radio in Birmingham until retiring in 1985.

The funeral will be on 5 December at  St Thomas’s Church, Maesglas, Newport NP20 3AT  starting at 1.30 p.m. followed by the cremation at Gwent Crematorium, Croesyceiliog, Cwmbran, NP44 2BZ.

Bill was born in Birmingham and joined Stratton & Company in 1935 as an apprentice.  With a break for RAF service during WW2, where he worked on the new technology that would be called Radar, he remained with the company until retirement.  He was promoted to Chief Engineer in 1947.  The company was bought by The Marconi Company in 1965, Marconi being part of English Electric at the time, and Stratton & Company changed its name to Eddystone Radio.  In 1976 he was promoted  to Managing Director and in 1984 became Chairman.



Jimmy Leadbitter

jimmy_leadbitteraWe regret to report the death of Jimmy Leadbitter on 14 November.

The funeral will be at Chelmsford Crematorium on 2 December at 12.30.

Jimmy was born in 1925 in Whitburn, County Durham but moved South to work for the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company (MWT) at its New Street factory early in 1942. He worked in the Marine Test department, was subsequently transferred to Marconi Marine’s installation planning department and was the Installations Manager in 1963 when the Company moved from New Street to its headquarters in the newly-built Elettra House on Westway, Chelmsford, where he remained until his retirement in 1990. That period covered the introduction of Single Sideband radio telephony and radio telex in maritime communications (Apollo, Pennant receivers; Crusader, Commander, Commandant and Conqueror transmitter equipments), several new ranges of radar equipment, the transition from valve to solid-state technology and the maritime world’s adoption of satellite technology for communications and navigation.

His department was responsible for the planning, logistics and fitting of radio rooms and radio navigational aids on ships in shipyards and ports world-wide, overseeing MIMCo technicians on long-term assignment in shipyards in the Far East and South America as well as those working from the Company’s many offices in the UK and elsewhere. Overseas agents involved in the installation of MIMCo products were supported and directed from his office. They were also deeply involved in the planning and execution of Company display stands at shipping exhibitions around the world, behind the Iron Curtain as well as in the West, including those formerly held each year at the beginning of January at the London Boat Show at Earls Court – not a good recipe for a peaceful Christmas for those involved.

He joined the MVA Committee in 1988 and was President in 1989.  He was very knowledgeable in all things to do with Marconi Marine and was almost always able to answer a query from memory.  He remained an active member of the MVA committee until earlier this year, the picture above was taken at the reunion in April 2016.


In Memoriam

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

J F Bacon1940
L C Bearcroft1965
B A Bingley1962
P W Buers1944
C S Burnham1951
J P Candler1957
D S Carlile1951
E C Clark1948
D I H Clements1952
B J Everitt1948
B J Hazelton1940
A T Humphrey1956
J Kurdelski1951
M E Lewis1962
D B Manning1937
Mrs B E Maltby1946
S R Moore1955
B E R Munday1961
J C Playle1950
R R Porter1944
K R Shaughnessy1955
R W Taylor1948
G F White1954

This list was correct on 24 October 2016  and supersedes the list published on 9 March 2016

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

Sandford Mill News

News from the Mill

from  Tim Wander

A busy summer! Having stepped into the breach (so to speak) at the Mill to help Nick and the team after Nick Sturgess’s departure earlier this year – this summer has been both fascinating, interesting and all times a little frustrating – but a lot of progress has been made.

Firstly thank you to all the volunteers from all the different  groups whose efforts continue to make Sandford Mill a unique and inspiring building – part museum, part store, part repository, part classroom, outward bound centre, school and many other things – hence the new signs I put up for open day – that just say…Sandford Mill.

You have to be there for a while to even work out the many different things that go on. On the building side I have been able to lend my support to push on with a series of building and site checks – all have gone well and the electrical fault in the classroom pump room has now been resolved.

On the museum front,  in the short time available, I have managed to reorganise parts of the collection and document, reclassify and move around other parts into logical groups. This along with several clear outs has made some limited space – (which seems to be filling rapidly even now).

Some fascinating museum finds have been identified – the YB1 radio from 1918 (but with a ‘needs more research’ provenance associated with the first BBC broadcasts through early 1923) and the HS55A amplifier (1917) are very rare items and both are planned to be gently restored. We have managed to restore the original 2MT Piano stool and Peter Bridgeman has done a fantastic job with the T1154 and R1155 refurbs – now on display at Oakland’s. Colin Page is also working on one of the Marconi Mores code inkers which is in an very poor condition.

Other projects now ongoing include the 1971 LOCUS 16 Computer – the world’s first 16 bit minicomputer donated last year by BAE systems which has been installed and is now being rebuilt at the Mill. This is the only surviving complete example in the world. The Television volunteer engineering team has grown and sound and vision seem to have been restored …..there is even a rumour that one of the new volunteers has just fixed a design fault on a circuit board on a Camera that was shipped in 1966 – 50 years on – now that is proper after sales service.

We have also started an internal revamp and reorganisation of the famous 2MT Writtle Hut, working toward  the rapidly approaching centenaries  – January 2020 through to November 2020 for the  Chelmsford Broadcasts, (June 2020 for  Dame Nellie’s Concert) and of course February 2022 starts the 100th anniversary year of 2MT. A lot of planning is already underway including a planned 95th trial celebration/broadcast from ‘2MT’ in February 2017 – we hope to produce actual concerts and broadcasts at the correct time and place – 100 (and 95) years on. Watch this space for future updates.

As part of all this I am attempting to find time to rework the 2012 New Street Works book into a 2020 Centenary celebration for the New Street works and Melba’s broadcast – so if you have any memories or anecdotes or photographs of the factory that didn’t make it the first time, please send them in. I have received many since it first came out and many found new photographs, including a large section, sadly, on the sites recent demolition and “rebuild” – photographed and recorded over several years by Susan and Richard Wilson.

I also hope to rewrite the 2MT Writtle Book in some form for the centenary– (yes again) Since the 2010 edition much more research has come in (especially re the RFC origins of the 2MT team) and many more photographs have turned up. If you have anything to add to the 2MT story please email me – indeed if you would like to help email me!!

As per Hall Street this spring, any proceeds from these hopefully ‘fascinating reads’ will go toward the Centenary project funding. There will also be a dedicated website to the centenary plans and we are hoping to produce a short video or two to promote the events. Watch this space!

And now some appeals for the Museum:-

  1. Does anyone know of – or can you guess from your career history – where we might find a Marconi Myriad Computer? Today we (i.e. the National Computer Museum, Leeds University, Sandford Mill et al) cannot find any surviving example: I have vague memories about AFTN Switching in Cyprus (FLIGHT report confirms installation in 1967) and South Africa military switches – can you help?


  1. We are trying to get the important Great Baddow Chain Home Radar Mast listed – you may be surprised to know that due to several ‘technical’ reasons this unique and only complete surviving CH radar mast has effectively no statutory protection. I have to assemble a report about its use from 1954 until today. This history, when coupled with its important wartime history, will allow us to have another go – so any information please email me – I need to cover all its uses – for radar, TV, microwave projects etc. Thanks.
  1. As the Centenary fast approaches we are urgently seeking the loan of any early wireless equipment from WW1 and RFC use designed by the Brooklyn/Joyce Green RFC and later Writtle engineering teams. So can anyone loan us a Sterling W/T set or one of the early AD series of equipment designed, built and tested by Eckersley and his team between 1919 and 1922?


  1. The Hut now has an original 1916 tortoise stove in place and a correct Cliftophone gramophone on its way. We are looking for a 78 RPM record of Robert Howe singing the ‘Floral Dance’ – the first record to be played on 2MT.
  1. We are still looking for an elusive picture of the Hall Streets Works wireless station – the one across the road from the main factory site…anyone seen one?
  1. We are looking for more information on the Broomfield Wireless Station – formed in 1903 and badly damaged in WW2 – does anyone have any pictures or can point me to a source?

The 2MT transmitter rebuild is also gathering pace – through a generous donation to the museum we have now been able to provide all the original Marconi valves and new displays are being planned including a history the valve from ‘Fleming to Acorn’ – and a new display dedicated to the career of Peter Eckersley. Indeed a huge amount of volunteer effort has gone into sorting out the Mill’s huge valve collection and there have been some very early and possibly unique finds that we hope to display soon.

So while working on the future centenaries of British Broadcasting at the Mill – we were also pleased to accept on long term loan the amazing recreation of the Titanic Radio Room built by Ted Sinclair and first seen at the successful Hall Street exhibition earlier this year. I have also managed to have a first pass revamp of just some of the displays at Oaklands Museum – more planned in January.

The Sandford Mill Museum area has also had its own ‘revamp’ of some of the displays – much more work needs to be done – interestingly the Museum holds potentially the largest collection of original MIMCO equipment in the world – now being documented in a separate project.

The two Mill ‘open days’ were very well attended with numerous museum tours and hut tours telling the story of Marconi, Crompton’s, Safety at Sea, the Titanic and, of course, the birth of British Broadcasting. Thanks to all who those who came and those who helped.

A new line of research has been the Mill’s Filter House – with each tour attracting 60 plus people. The story of Chelmsford’s turbulent and, at times, difficult water supply from 1815-1984 has met with a lot of interest and several new projects are being based around this unique building and indeed the history of Sandford Mill itself. The Filter House is probably the last of its type in the world that went from “black” river water to chlorinated/softened/Ph controlled drinkable water in one building – producing some 3 million gallons everyday.

On a slightly smaller scale Jim and the team have nearly rebuilt the water wheel and the volunteers continue to support the education team with their many “hands on” working displays and demonstrators. Even some horses harnesses  from an earlier century are being restored – proving it’s not all science and engineering based here at the Mill!.

Best Regards,

Tim Wander (G6GUX yes offcom just gave it back -)




Clifden Marconi Project – opening 18 September 2016

This is an update to the earlier post of 26 August with pictures from Shane Joyce showing the opening event on 18 September.

2191-opening-derrygimlagh-loop-connemara-michael-kirwan-michael-gibbons-shane-joyce 2190-1-opening-derrygimlagh-loop-connemara-michael-gibbons-and-shane-joyce-with-radio-people 2168-opening-derrygimlagh-loop-connemara 2180-opening-derrygimlagh-loop-connemara 2181-opening-derrygimlagh-loop-connemara 2178-opening-derrygimlagh-loop-connemara

There have been several references to the Marconi radio site at Clifden in Connemara on this site and in the annual newsletter.  This is the latest information we have received from Shane Joyce who has done much to publicise the site and the Marconi connections.

You are all cordially invited to our local opening of the recently completed Clifden Marconi Project which consist of a 4.6km walking trail over the original pathways used by the Marconi personnel.

There is a large number of information panels, “Photoscopes” and Audio devices amongst many other items along the trail.  Alcock & Brown, being a major  part of the story of the site, feature prominently, of course.

The opening has been scheduled to be on during Clifden Arts festival which is a brilliant event in its own right, now in its 39th year.

This alone is well worth a visit to our town.

Clifden Chamber of Commerce were the key local partner which made the project possible.  This is their formal invitation

Chamber Invitation

The other key partners are Failte Ireland and Galway County Council to whom we are very grateful.

As a lead-in to this event there will be a party on Saturday the 17th  under the auspices of the Clifden Chamber

Anyone with Marconi connections will be very welcome to join Shane at this event.  If anyone is considering travelling to Connemara they can contact Shane via the comments field below.

These two pictures are the latest we have received

Power House Photoscope Then & Now

Articles about Clifden were published in the Newsletters for 2008, 2011 and 2013

Below, as a reminder, are some pictures of the site that were published in 2013

Page13-NM07 Page13-NM12 Page13-NM02 NM09 NM06


Bernard Hazelton

We regret to announce the death of Bernard Hazelton.

Bernard was secretary of the Marconi Veterans Association from 1989 until 2005 and remained on the MVA committee until shortly before his death.

The funeral will be at Chelmsford Crematorium at 1 pm on Friday 12 August.


Hall Street Exhibition 2016

Guglielmo_Marconi_1901_wireless_signalFor the last day of this exhibition a display of the equipment shown in this well known photograph from 1901 has been arranged.

This will include the coherer receiver and spark coil, both originals and would have been manufactured at Hall Street, a Siemens morse inker that was badged and sold by Marconi, a grasshopper key and a Marconi galvanometer.

Update from 29 May

The nearest we can get to the original photograph

Original equipment, generally from around 1901. Here in spirit

Equipment details

P1010148A P1010150A P1010151A P1010149A P1010152A

Here is an interview by Steve Clow (ex Essex Chronicle) of the two gentlemen who brought this equipment to Hall Street for the last day of the exhibition

MVA Annual General Meeting – 2016

The Annual General Meeting of the Marconi Veterans Association was held on Saturday 16th April 2016 at the Marconi Athletic & Social Club following the reunion and luncheon.


1.  Minutes

To approve the minutes of the Annual General Meeting held on 18th April 2015.

The minutes were passed unanimously by a show of hands.

2.  Accounts

To receive the audited accounts for the year ended 31 December 2015.

Passed unanimously by a show of hands.

3.  Committee

To elect officers and members of the Committee.

All members of the Committee, being eligible, offered themselves for re-election.

The Committee was elected unanimously by a show of hands.

4. Appointment of Auditor

Mr T Mundon will shortly be leaving Marconi’s and will be unable to continue as auditor of the Marconi Veterans Association. The committee will shortly appoint a new auditor.

5.  Any other business

a) New Street site.

Peter Turrall gave an outline of the present state of the New Street building. It is currently occupied by an American company called Benefit who make cosmetics. The committee has already held one committee meeting there and will continue to do so from October. They have a very good show of wireless sets in their reception area but not any technical equipment of the type Marconi did make.

b) Photographic archive at the Essex Records Office – veteran Ken Earney

“Thanks Peter, I’ll try.”

“The Marconi photographic archive at the Essex Records Office we’ve had a lot of difficulty in trying to track down the records that the Baddow photographer made of this archive before it moved to the record office. So, we’ve had quite a struggle to find out what happened to the records that the Baddow photographer had made of the archive before it transferred from New Street to the record office.”

“To cut a long story short. As a result of a piece that I put in the Newsletter that appeared about six weeks ago now, in a couple of days Trevor Wright the former curator of the Marconi Heritage Collection got in touch too say that he had originally passed the records in Microsoft Access database format to the records office with the archive. What happened to them, why did they not.., why were they not able to use these we don’t know but he re-sent the data in Microsoft Excel format.”

“I’ve been in touch with the curator at the record office, yes, she’s received this recent data, she’s assessing it at the moment to see whether they have a need to call on the volunteers that we’ve offered to go and look at this archive and assist them with identifying photographs, items and personalities and so on.”

“We’re waiting to hear further from the archivist at the moment but, sorry, if we want volunteers we will still be asking for them, we don’t know whether or not we shall yet.”

“We haven’t finished yet, watch this space.”

6. Next Meeting

“So, watch this space fellow Veterans. The next meeting we have is on 22 April 2017 and I can assure you it will be at this Marconi Social Club.”

“So, end of the meeting of the Marconi Veterans Association, unless anyone has anything to say you have one second to say it.”

“Meeting closed. Thank you.”

Reunion 2016 – Guest of Honour

Peter Turrall

Peter Turrall

Introduction to our Guest of Honour, John Shrigley by Peter Turrall, Chairman of the MVA

Mr Patron, Madam President, fellow Veterans

It give me great pleasure to introduce today our honoured guest, John Shrigley.

First of all many congratulations, John, on your recent wedding anniversary celebrating 50 years of married life, well done. (applause)

I first met John when I was overseas sales manager for Tom Mayer in MCSL in 1985. Sir Robert Telford had called me to his office to discuss a project following my recent visit to the Argentine and John was on a visit to New Street waiting to see Sir Robert. At that time I did not know him and it was not until we sat down for lunch later that I found out that he was the director of personnel for GEC Marconi.

After that I recognised him, you couldn’t but help recognise him, he never walked anywhere, he ran.  And I can remember him coming from the top floor down the stairs right the way to the front offices.

John has been involved in personnel, nowadays the world’s word is human resources, following his degree at Durham University. The word human resources, I find, rather a strange name as it conjures up many thoughts far removed from personnel.

Following his appointment as personnel director GEC Electrical Components in 1969 John became personnel director of GEC Marconi in 1976 and for 15 years he reported to Sir Robert Telford. A real move up the ladder came in 1991 when John was appointed personnel director to GEC reporting to Lord Weinstock at Stanhope Gate. In 1994 John decided on a career change working away from large organisations and he became a consultant as well as a civil service commissioner.

At employment tribunal decisions he was an appeals member, a magistrates selector as well as a selector of police authorities in Beds, Herts and Cambridgeshire and finally before retiring in 2002 he was for 13 years a member of the council and vice chair of Brunel University where he was awarded an honorary doctorate.  Now I really should have addressed you John as Dr. John, I do apologise.

Now in his spare time he manages to play golf helps with charity work and even finds time to enjoy family life especially with his grandchildren.

Well John, you’ve had a varied and interesting career and I feel sure you will be giving us an insight to some of the more interesting happenings especially your associations with both Marconi and GEC companies so before I ask you to come up and say a few words, John, we’d like to make you an honorary member of the Marconi Veterans Association and I hope you wear this tie with distinction. (applause)

So, fellow Veterans please raise your glass to welcome our honoured guest Mr John Shrigley. – John Shrigley.


John Shrigley

John Shrigley

Response by John Shrigley

Madam President, Chairman, Veterans, thank you very much.

I was going to concentrate on one or two war stories from Africa and I will do but since you’ve mentioned Stanhope Gate and Lord Weinstock it might sort of kick off with one of those. There are quite a few people here, certainly Tom Mayer remembers, Robbie Robertson, Don Mott and David you’ll remember that annually each company had to present its budget to Lord Weinstock. The budget was presented personally to him and he would put the fear of God into many managing directors – not Tom Mayer.. So with trepidation they would go because this man was larger than life, dominating, domineering perhaps, certainly an autocrat, however, on one occasion we were settled in his office and because there were so many companies presenting their budgets he would have several companies on one occasion; he had a massive office and there may have been 20 or so people in the room. And Lord Weinstock was particularly concerned, as many of you may know about cost. Costs shouldn’t happen and employment costs were of course a significant part of our activities. And that’s why I was there just to help managing directors get through the questions they’d be asked about employment costs, and one of these was recruitment expenses. We were the biggest employing companies. Companies were constantly recruiting engineers and others and we needed to scour for UK people. And we found one of the finest medium, or the best medium to use was the Daily Telegraph so we were frequently advertising. And Lord Weinstock asked

“Where was this money going?”

“So well you know we do spend a lot of money on advertising”.

“Where do you advertise?”

“The Daily Telegraph”.

“You mean you are spending all this money on the Daily Telegraph”.

“Well yes, it’s quite expensive but it’s the most effective”.

“Right, well we’ll put a stop to that. Miss Elscom (his secretary) get me Conrad Black”, who at the time was the boss of the Daily Telegraph. Conrad Black comes on the line.
“Conrad, I’ve got these Marconi people, they’re telling me that in fact they’ve got to spend millions with you on advertising. The costs are over the top and I’m sure you and I can come to a deal”.

The room was very quiet and Lord Weinstock he didn’t say a word and he put the phone down and said

“I lost that”.

Now that’s, that’s a bit unusual for him, he’s used to winning every argument and for those in the room it was an unusual experience. Needless to say we didn’t get any mention, any further mention, of employment costs from then on.

Coming closer to home, pay negotiations in my secondary period we might talk about, a couple of stories. On one occasion, you’ll remember that in fact in Chelmsford it was a massive negotiation took place; a lot of people who would benefit from the negotiations with the thousands of people employed. And so it was a significant negotiation, it took some time. But eventually it would be concluded and Don Mott would pay, and others indeed, pay employees their increases within about a couple of weeks, a remarkable achievement for thousands of staff. And one day I got a visit from head of personnel, very proud he said “We’re going to computerise”.

Well, that sounds encouraging I’m sure we’ll welcome that. How long is it going to take you to implement the increases?

Six weeks, which is astonishing it seemed to me and we didn’t take him up on that.

Another occasion negotiations had been going reasonably well but there needed to be some sort of game changer to complete the deal. And Hugh Jones with his management team of negotiators came into the office and said. “Look we want to offer staff conditions to manual employees.” Now at that time that was revolutionary. The engineering industry practically, that is to say all manual staff had conditions which involved, for example, waiting ……. And many of us over the years have said this is absurd. You can have a time-serving worker whose modest conditions compare to his 16 year old daughter who’s a typist, but we did nothing about it because it was all too difficult.

Anyway. Hugh Jones had seen the light, he wanted the same conditions for all manual workers. Now normally we wouldn’t bother going to GEC’s headquarters to discuss what we were doing, we’d get on with it. This is one of those cases when I started having worries. And lots of people said look what’s going to happen if all the manual workers go sick because now you’re giving them indubitably higher benefits from a pay point of view man for man.

So I phoned Stanhope Gate. There was a pause

“Who wants to do this. You realise this is very unusual; on your head be it”.

Anyway. Phone down. We went ahead and Hugh you will remember said in fact far from seeing a substantial increase in sickness I think there was a minor spike for a very short time and it settled down to normal staff levels of sickness and it was a major innovation.

One or two personalities past and present. First, Robbie, Robbie Robertson, who as you all know has a substantial career in Marconis. I recall when he was appointed, Arthur Walsh asked him to come and see him.

“Robbie, I want you to take over Norsk Marconi”.

He was a wily bird, Norsk Marconi was a real problem. Small, it took too much time no one wanted to spend any time with it and I think Arthur took advantage of Robbie

And I think many managing directors would have said

“Well, I’ll give this one up there are more important things to do”.

But not Robbie, not only did Robbie visit Norsk Marconi on many occasions and spend serious time with them but he also or at least started with the language but certainly he endeavoured to correspond with them and keep them on board. My abiding recollection is of Robbie and I walking down a street in Oslo in the middle of February at 14 below zero.

There was an occasion, you remember Marconi College, it would have been 1977 when one of the directors decided that he wanted to appear as a woman. Now I think Roger it’s probably before your time. Now that’s commonplace these days. In 1977/78 it was not commonplace at all, it was exceptional and unusual. And the menfolk were very fussed about this and they made me think there were maybe concerns but one concern that they had was what to do about the toilets. And we fussed about it and we couldn’t decide, then it was mentioned to the ladies and eventually one among two or three said “What are you fussing about we go into cubicles so there’s no need to worry about those”. So that sorted out that problem.

I’d like to finish with a little story about a former president in fact Robert Telford. Marconi being so dominant in Chelmsford, the Marconi city, Sir Robert would invite any newly appointed senior person in other companies or activities for lunch at Marconi’s, for example, the chief executive of the local authorities. On one occasion the new general manager Paul Varian. And he was invited for lunch. Just the three of us, lovely lunch. Sir Robert had to go out and I took charge of him. As he turned to leave he looked back at Sir Robert’s retreating figure he said “You know if ever I was fat I would hate to be fat”.

Thank you all very much for having me, clearly Marconi Veterans Association is flourishing and I hope it will flourish well in the future.