Annual General Meeting 2015

Readers are particularly asked to note item 5 on the agenda.

The Annual General Meeting of the Marconi Veterans Association was held on Saturday 18th April 2015 at the Marconi Athletic & Social Club following the reunion and luncheon.

AGENDA

1  Minutes

To approve the minutes of the Annual General Meeting held on 5th April 2014.

The minutes were passed unanimously by a show of hands.

2. Accounts

To receive the audited accounts for the year ended 31 December 2014.

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

A resolution was proposed for the re-appointment of Mr T Mundon as auditor of the Marconi Veterans Association.

Passed unanimously by a show of hands.

5. Any other business

a) Marconi Heritage Centre – address by veteran Alan Hartley-Smith

Thank you Peter. You will all had on your chair when you came in a notice from our colleagues the Moulsham Trust. You may or may not have read the local press but we are well under way towards getting acquisition of the ground floor of Marconi’s original factory at Hall Street in which we want to mount a Marconi Heritage Centre working with the Community Association so it becomes a sustainable not a dry museum exhibit.

One of the things we want to do is raise money obviously, they are doing this crowd funding system, which they have mentioned, but what we want to do with the Marconi Heritage Group is make an appeal to corporate sponsors.  Now to do that we want to get into contact with a lot of the major companies but also we’d like to get in contact with any of the old Marconi contacts that we have, i.e. customers and companies we’ve dealt with round the world.  Now to do this we’re going to need some help, there’s only three of us on the main committee of the MHG at the moment so this is really an appeal to people here if I could say “could any of you here volunteer working from home” we’re going to put together effectively an e-mail campaign to contact all of these people and our suggestion is we’re going to try and sell, for want of a better word, pledge credits, for £100 and the idea is to approach these people and say “How many of these credits would you like to buy?” in the hope that some of them will buy more than one but this is to get us off the ground with the funding to pay the developer in order to get access and then carry on. We are going to get support from BAE Systems once we’ve actually got the system up and running to make it operational but what we really need at this point in time is effort, so if anybody here could volunteer in time from home using the e-mail system this would be very greatly appreciated.  You can either contact me direct through the Marconi Heritage website which you have details of, or I’m sure if you send it into the committee here they will pass it on to us.

Please help us, we really do stand a good chance of getting the only remaining building in Chelmsford that’s got any association with Marconi back to something resembling a Marconi presence.  Please help.

Earlier in the year Alan provided an update on the Marconi Heritage Group.  To read this update please Click Here

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

The Essex Records Office are seeking volunteers to assist with a possible Heritage Lottery Fund bid to catalogue the Marconi Photographic archive.

Thanks Peter. Two years ago I stood here and spoke very briefly about the photographic archive that Essex Records Office have and which they had just taken control of. It’s a massive archive, thousands of images and this is the bit that escaped and didn’t get to Oxford and the Bodleian.

The archivists want to get this archive catalogued, there’s a lot of missing information and we’ve had a couple of meetings with them over those two years.  One of the things they wanted to do was organise a Heritage Lottery bid to support this work.  They haven’t, for whatever reason, been able to organise their HLF bid yet but in parallel with this Peter has been investigating a cataloguing of this material that was funded at the time that the photographic unit at Chelmsford was wound up so there is a missing catalogue, apparently, of an awful lot of this material; so we don’t yet know the extent of what effort a team of volunteers going into Essex Records Office might have and that will become clearer hopefully over the next weeks or a couple of months.

What will be sought eventually is the sort of appeal that I made two years ago though actually we haven’t had many names yet and there hasn’t been anything to do for them in truth yet.  It’s people who would be prepared to go into the records office on a not terribly onerous basis maybe once a month maybe less frequently than that to assist with the cataloguing and indexing effort.  It’s a case of using a laptop with Microsoft Excel and identifying photographs, who’s in the photograph, what’s in the photograph and putting that on to the database.  What this will need is a number of people who have knowledge of the key product areas in the company, radar, TV, broadcasting, Comms and avionics so to bring this to a close if anybody would be able to assist in this, and we don’t yet know precisely when this will happen, maybe sometime later this year. The individuals would have to have at this moment their own laptop that they can bring until the ERO get funding, Heritage Lottery funding, they can’t provide the kit so anyway if anyone’s interested in helping with this please contact me or anyone on the committee afterwards.

Thank you.

6. Next Meeting

The next reunion and AGM will be on Saturday 16th April 2016  at the Marconi Social Club.  This will be the 80th reunion.

Reunion 2015 – an invitation from our secretary

February 2015

Dear Fellow Veteran

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I look forward to seeing you at the Reunion.

With kindest regards

I am yours sincerely

Veteran Barry Powell
Secretary
E-mail : Secretary@marconi-veterans.org

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

AGM – 2014

The Annual General Meeting of the Marconi Veterans Association was held on Saturday 5th April 2014 at the Marconi Athletic & Social Club following the reunion and luncheon.

AGENDA

1  Minutes

To approve the minutes of the Annual General Meeting held on 20th April 2013.

The minutes were passed unanimously by a show of hands.

2.  Accounts

To receive the audited accounts for the year ended 31st December 2013.

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

A resolution was proposed for the re-appointment of Mr T Mundon as auditor of the Marconi Veterans Association.

Passed unanimously by a show of hands.

5.  Any other business

No matters were raised at this point.

6.  Next Meeting

The next reunion and AGM will be on Saturday 18th  April 2015 at the Marconi Social Club.  This will be the 79th  reunion.

Reunion Guest of Honour 2014

Our Guest of Honour at the 2014 reunion was Ray Haggar.  He was introduced by our Chairman, Peter Turrall.

Mr Patron, President, Fellow Veterans.

Our Honoured Guest this year Ray Haggar, is a friend of our President Mike Thornton, having known him since 1968. The two families have shared many holidays together and during the last fifteen years holidays have been in Florida playing golf and attending concerts and theatre.

Ray had no direct association in his career with the Marconi organisation but naturally being friendly with our President, general matters undoubtedly came up for discussion.

Ray was with Shellmex and BP where he joined straight from University. In the early 1970’s and for 30 years he spent working in the UK with the marketing arm of Shell. His experience being mainly in Commercial and Industrial sales but the majority of his time was in retail, especially in marketing and project management. He ended his career as Head of Retail management Training.

Having left Shell, he then for 3years worked with a specialised Training organisation delivering a staff/management communication package to of all
Institutions HMRC.

Later he renewed his connection with Shell and became a Pensions Liaison representative for the next ten years. I suspect we will hear more of this from Ray shortly. As our Patron is a member of our own Stanhope Pensions scheme, I am sure he will be listening with an open ear on how private organisations like Shell were able to offer very high retirement pension payments. !!!!

Fellow Veterans may I ask you to rise and with a Toast give a warm welcome to Mr. Ray Haggar

To which Ray Haggar replied

Ray HaggerGood afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen. Thank you Mike for inviting me to your Inaugural Presidential Luncheon, and I’d like to say how pleased I am to be here to give you support, even if I’m having to sing for my supper, as it were!

Mike and I, together with our families, have been good friends for some 40 years, sharing happy holidays on the continent and latterly in the USA. He has been very supportive of me personally for which I thank him, and I am sure he will make an excellent Association President for 2014.

My background is not of a scientific nature and it is therefore with some trepidation that I will say just a few words about the Third Great Revolution, which is the Communications Revolution, from a personal, present and future viewpoint.

Who would have thought way back in the 40’s we would now be able to communicate anywhere in the world with our families and friends by a handheld device that slips into our pockets! Most weekends in the family chez Hagger and before lunch BST, we talk and also see our children and grandchildren in Korea, New York and Singapore via Face Time or Skype. As youngsters our imaginations of future possibilities were stimulated through comics and science fiction that this might be possible, and today it is available to us all, globally! Social media, GPS the World Wide Web have all contributed to and promoted a much more transparent, informed and open global society, which holds great promise for the future, but comes with parallel concerns that depend on the way we, and the world, use the benefits it offers.

Social media touches us in so many ways, how we organise our lives, handle family and group dynamics at home, school and at work. Just the other day I caught a report on the TV advising those of us who are becoming insomniacs to leave the tele downstairs, with the Kindle or iPod etc take up a book, read a little, the better to lull us to sleep. So caution is the watch word!

Much of this technology in personal communications has taken place relatively recently. Face Book, for example, has only been with us since 2006; Twitter and Tweeting has followed and yet they seem to have been with us for ever. In business and industry these amazing technical developments offer great scope for us to completely reorganise the way we work. But then again there is need for caution. Tele-conferencing the sales force may contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions, and reduce global warming, but it cannot substitute always for face-to-face dialogue. The retail industry is only now struggling to come to terms with the impact of on-line competition on traditional town centres, newly constructed shopping centres and employment in the services sector generally. Being a bit of a dinosaur myself, I use on-line shopping very sparingly – there being no substitute for seeing and experiencing a product in hand. (Click and collect is a partial solution) A whole cultural change is required for it to fit comfortably into society. (It’s evolving!)

Politically these technologies are being felt all over the world; closed societies are being exposed to opportunities available elsewhere and are challenging the old guard. Good and not so good can result as we have seen in different corners of the world.
And so….WHERE to NEXT?

Hardly a day seems to pass without a news item telling us about the latest venture into space…..a new astronaut destined for the ISS….or a new space mission to search for…..almost everything! During our lifetime TV has brought us amazing scenes in sport, human achievement and tragedy on the 9 inch blue tube (sic) to the 50-plus super HD/3D flat screen, enabling us to witness events such as the 1966 World Cup Final and that GIANT LEAP FOR MANKIND in 1969! (There are apparently still those in the US who believe TV wrestling to be genuine, but Moon landings fake!) So where does this take us?

Space exploration has been at the heart of all this development (no satellites, no GPS etc). It has also been an area where international cooperation has been fostered and prospered. Let’s hope events in the Crimea do not scuttle this positive aspect of human endeavour and harmony.
Which leads me on to two projects in space exploration which you may have been following.

The first is the Plato Mission, an ESA lead programme to seek out habitable worlds in the cosmos, launching in 2024, and importantly involving a local business, E2V, who will be constructing a metre-square camera with a 2.5 Billion pixel lens! Exciting stuff!

The second is a current mission nearing its completion, namely the ESA lead Rosetta Mission, which has involved sending a 3 tonne spacecraft, including a lander – Philae – that launched in 2004 with the object of catching a comet (reminds me of a song!). The spaceship is Rosetta, the landing craft Philae, and the comet is Churyomov / Gerasimenko 67F/CQ and the journey has taken 10 years. At some 25,000 mph! The aim is to land Philae on the comet’s surface to take samples and photographs, for research into the materials that are believed to be the building blocks of planet earth and the universe! Some project!! Hopefully this will take place in November this year.

To me, as a layman, this is mind boggling, with echoes of the film Armageddon, and it will rank alongside the moon landings as the next Step for Mankind!
Now why have I spoken about these future challenges? Why, because if it had not been for a Man who ‘flew a kite’ to send a signal from Cornwall to Ireland and subsequently to Newfoundland, none of the controls necessary for these amazing feats to succeed would have been possible, for all controls are by radio (albeit with some 45 minute reaction delays!). And that man, as you will know, was Marchese Marconi, the immigrant entrepreneur, whose belief, tenacity, and passion for scientific discovery made imagination into reality. A True Champion of Science.

I am indeed honoured to be here today, and you can all be proud to say: “I was part of Team Marconi and helped to make these Great Journeys possible”!

Thank you for your hospitality, friendship, and attention today. I am truly humbled.

MVA President 2014

Our President for 2014 was Mike Thornton. He was introduced by our Chairman Peter Turrall

Mr. Patron, Honoured Guest, Fellow Veterans.

It gives me great pleasure to introduce our President for 2014, Mr. Mike Thornton. Your year Mike as President is not an arduous one. You will be expected to attend, if requested, various meetings called by our Secretary Barry (usually one per week) Be present at any function in the City of Chelmsford when progressing the name of Marconi Veterans (several times per year) Attend some Funerals of Veterans. Give generously when asked to ensure the Marconi Veterans Association does not fall into the red, and to promote our Founders name especially with the City Council and the Essex Chronicle etc., etc., Do you still wish to be President?

Seriously Mike it is a great Honour to be President and I know you will carry out your duties to the best of your ability. Fellow Veterans, I feel sure many of you will know Mike, especially those who worked at Air Radio Group Basildon where in 1993 he became Managing Director.  This is another instance where a Management Trainee of the old Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Company has attained one of the highest positions possible after a long and varied career.

Mike started with the MWTCO in 1956 and held various posts including a secondment to Singapore where he ran an office for local staff.  It was at this time when I first met Mike at a briefing session but since then our paths crossed at various times, particularly at Company exhibitions.

A worldwide traveller in his capacity as a Sales Manager, he travelled to far places including China and it was here he met our Patron Robbie Robertson.

I expect Mike will in his response tell you a lot about his experiences as a Marconi man so I will not disclose any more of his memories except to say he was as far as I know, the only person to fly to New York on a Boeing 707 arriving at 3-00pm in the afternoon and leaving at 10-00am next day. As they say a one night stand.

Mike plays Golf but I yet have the pleasure of playing either with him or against him. However, I understand in the past he has made the use of a Caddy. For the uninitiated in the game of Golf, a Caddy is the person who accompanies the Golfer round the Golf Course giving him various hints and tips on how to get the best out of the game. The following are some comments I have received from this Caddy.

Mike once stated.” I’d move Heaven and Earth to get round my Golf Course in less than 100.” The Caddy replied. “Try Heaven, you’ve already moved most of the earth.”

On another occasion Mike said to the Caddy.” Please stop checking your watch every time I hit the golf ball.” To which the Caddy replied .” Its not a watch it’s a Compass.” And one last comment, Mike asked the Caddy. “How do you like my game.” To which the Caddy replied. “Very good, but personally I prefer Golf.”

Mike I know you have had a varied career with our famous Company and it now gives me great pleasure to formally give you the honour of becoming President of our Marconi Veterans Association.

Fellow Veterans please rise and give a Toast and warm welcome to our President Mr. Mike Thornton.

To which Mike Thornton replied

Mike ThorntonThank you Peter for your kind introduction, and also for your fine work over the years in continuing to keep the Marconi name and the efforts of its people in the forefront of the local and national media. It is good to see you with the Veterans again this year and hope that your health continues to improve.

I would like to also thank your Patron and committee for the honour of being asked to become your President for 2014. What a pleasure it is for me to meet again with so many colleagues from my years with Marconi’s. Although I have never joined the Association I have followed the reports and activities of the group through the regular and comprehensive publication of the web site. You have a wonderful example of the capabilities of the internet in maintaining the history and archives and your secretary and other contributors are to be congratulated on their dedication to the Association.

I am particularly pleased to see Robbie again, our paths crossed on a number of occasions during our careers, normally at exhibitions or as members of delegations in various parts of the world, he was always willing to listen to my moans and we put the Company to rights on a number of occasions. You get to know someone quite well when you share a hotel room in China for a few days.

In response to the Toast, nearly 40 years working for one company is a long time with so many memories both good and not so good. With so many good friends and colleagues, many of them here today, but some not, it can make it difficult to know where to start.  I have been told however when to finish. Seven minutes and 30 seconds.

For whatever reason the Avionics capability of the Marconi Company has become detached from the history and close association we all enjoyed during the fifties and early Sixties.

I would like to use the few minutes left to try and explain why I think this may have occurred.

After trying numerous pre-war locations establishing the “wireless on aircraft ” principles, the main engineering and product support groups of Aeronautical Division were concentrated at Writtle using the original 2 MT Emma lock hut of 1922 fame plus other newer huts housing development and product support teams.
“A” Division management together with Contracts and commercial departments were housed in New Street and production was carried out at the Skating Rink. This configuration continued through the Fifties until the new buildings were completed at Basildon when the full Divisional team could be brought together as Airadio Division.

It is necessary at this stage to explain a little of the systems being developed for both the Military and Civil Markets. Two development teams were formed, at Writtle one concentrating on Doppler Navigation systems, still under security wraps in the early fifties, and the other on radio navigation and communication equipments. Both groups produced successful ranges of equipments which were widely installed on many of the UK aircraft both at home and overseas. The Writtle systems were among the first in the World to use transistors in the Aircraft environment, and were the basis of the radio guidance system for the worlds first Blind Landing Installations on the Trident and VC10 aircraft of BEA and BOAC.

To complement the introduction of these equipments into service the Systems Planning Group provided support to advise the aircraft manufacturers and assist in the testing of these new systems. It was one of the most exciting periods in the development of new Aircraft with the introduction of Jet engines capable of powering fast, high flying machines which all brought increased complications to the idea of “wireless on aircraft”.  Every aeroplane had to look nice.  No nasty bits of wire or other aerials to spoil the aerodynamic lines.  The early Comet was a good example of that thinking, with all aerials recessed below the skin line and the tail energised for HF transmissions. These concepts changed as the reduced communication and navigation performances became apparent, and the effects of static at high altitude became known, and counteracted.  Many test flights were undertaken during this period by both development and product support engineers to ensure that optimum performance was achieved.

Before most of these flights you signed a Blood Chit absolving everybody, in the case of an accident, offered a bone dome and Oxygen Mask, and confirmed you could use an ejection seat. I flew on over thirty different Military and Civil aircraft types checking performance of Communication and Navigation both in the UK and overseas, during this period.

Trusting and innocent young men on exciting missions.

Ray Walls on the Basildon table over there, however, will tell you, hitting an 11,000 volt overhead cable at 40 feet, with the rotor blade of a West land helicopter whilst testing a Doppler system can be just that little bit too exciting.

The whole team, including the D.O. and preproduction workshops were at last transferred from Writtle to Basildon where a purpose built facility was completed in 1960 and we had a new home with the capability of housing everybody.

Our management structure remained unchanged, with Dr O’Kane as divisional manager reporting to the MWT Managing Director. The vast majority of the management team and engineers had

Transferred from Writtle and we were all still Marconi men, using many of the MWT central facilities at Chelmsford.

This situation lasted until 1967 when English Electric bought Elliott Brothers who had a also had a well established Avionic business. GEC then stepped in a few months later and bought the new group including Marconi s from English Electric. Within two years, the avionics business now reported to the Elliott Bros, headquarters at Rochester. The name of the company, including Basildon activities, was now Marconi-Elliott Avionics

As far as our organisation was concerned we had a new MD, Wally Patterson and a regrouping of divisions to reflect the increased activity on the site. Three Electro-Optical divisions plus two Airadio. The day to day liaison between Basildon and New Street virtually disappeared over the next few years.

The defence market, however, was becoming increasingly under threat from overseas competition particularly in communications where the requirements to intemperate securely across NATO caused significant problems. For some time it was obvious that to meet that competition it was necessary for the total GEC-Marconi expertise to be concentrated on new technology, for both ground and airborne systems.  But before this policy could be implemented GEC sold the Defence business to BAE systems, and the Basildon divisions were included in that sale.

The electro optical divisions were also by this time contracted to supply Thermal imaging systems to UK and US defence services and the total Basildon businesses was now almost wholly Defence oriented and the sale to BAE was probably a wise move, but of course I was never asked!!
As we know that business was then sold by BAE to Finmeccanica whose affiliate UK Company Selex ES now employ over 4000 people in the UK and whose headquarters in the UK, are based at Basildon. They fully acknowledge their success is related to their Marconi history, and the current press release includes the following

“Our Basildon site has manufactured state-of-the-art military guidance systems and civil aeronautics for world markets for over 50 years. We benefit from the wealth of knowledge that exists in a company with such a strong heritage in the local area”

Your fellow Marconi veterans on the Basildon tables to-day are proud to have helped to establish that heritage, and have asked me to suggest that if you have Grandchildren looking for an interesting and rewarding career in Avionics to call our original 1960 telephone number 01268 22822.  They are still looking for graduates and apprentices

I am sure Signor Marconi understood the adage ” What goes around comes around ” and may even have approved of an Italian managed company, with British engineers providing the expertise.

Many thanks and may I wish you all Good Health, and continued success for the association.

Reunion 2014

The veterans’ reunion was held on 5 April. The president for 2014, the reunion’s guest of honour and the standing committee is shown in the first picture below

Committee Reunion 2014 Reunion 2014 Reunion 2014 Reunion 2014 Reunion 2014 Reunion 2014 Robbie Robertson Mike Thornton Peter Turrall, chairman MVA Ray Haggar Basil Francis Reg Awcock

Reunion 2014 – an invitation from our secretary

Dear Fellow Veteran

First, let me wish all Veterans a healthy and prosperous 2014.

I would like to take this opportunity to welcome all new members to the Association and hope to see them at the Annual Reunion, which will be held on Saturday 5th April 2014. This will be the 78th Reunion and the venue will be the Marconi Social Club, Beehive Lane, Chelmsford, where there is ample parking for those who travel by road. The Bar is inside the Main Hall (on the right as you enter the Club) and will open at 11.00 a.m.

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

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

Our President for 2014 is Veteran Mike Thornton who for many years was with Marconi’s Aeronautical Division at Basildon. He retired from the position of Managing Director in 1994 after over 39 years service with the Company.

Joining the Reunion as our Honoured Guest is Mr Ray Hagger who, for many years, was with Shell Mex and BP mainly involved with retail marketing. On leaving Shell he joined a specialised training organisation and later became involved as a Pensions Liaison representative.

The menu for this year’s luncheon will be as follows: –

Prawn and Seafood Cocktail
Roast Turkey
Raspberry Pavlova
Coffee, Cheese and Biscuits

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

With regard to the Subscription, we are pleased to maintain the rate at £6.00 per annum but, regrettably due to increased costs, we must raise the cover price for the Reunion to £24.00. I am sure that you will agree that this is still excellent value for a four course meal with tea/coffee and wine. As the Association has a very limited income, and in order to keep our expenses to a minimum, receipts for Subscriptions and/or Donations will not be issued unless requested so we thank you in anticipation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Committee is prepared to receive any nominations, propositions or suggestions for submission to the Annual General Meeting. providing they reach me in writing by 22nd March 2014.

We now have over 50 ‘Friends of the Marconi Veterans’ Association’. All ‘Friends’ receive the Newsletter and we will do all we can to keep them in touch with ex-colleagues but they are not eligible to attend the Reunion. The 2014 subscription for Friends is unchanged at £3.00.  If you know of anyone who would like to be included, please urge them to contact me, at the above address, as soon as possible.

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

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

Finally, two dates for your diary, the Marconi Day at Sandford Mill is currently scheduled for Saturday 26th April (10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.) and the 2015 Reunion will be on Saturday 18th April

I look forward to seeing you at the Reunion.

With kindest regards

I am yours sincerely

Veteran Barry Powell
Secretary

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

Absent Friends – 2013

Our toast to Absent friends was proposed this year, as on previous occasions, by Veteran Val Cleare 

Val Cleare

Patron, Honoured Guest, Fellow Veterans

As is customary, I will just mention a few notable absences, the remainder of which can be found in the Absent Veterans booklets displayed.

Gerry Bamford (ex TID)

We have had greetings and best wishes to all friends and colleagues of TID, Design Office and Engineering Departments of Radar Division. Memories of many happy years (41 in fact!)

Irma Atterbury

Regrets she is unable to attend. She wishes all fellow Veterans an enjoyable reunion, and likewise Ann Dimmick who sends best wishes for health and happiness.

There are a few Veterans who are prevented from being here today due to sickness.

We have mentioned about Peter Turrall earlier.

Lady Betty Telford is not well but nevertheless has sent her best wishes for a successful reunion.

David Mainhood is unable to attend having recently had a prostrate operation. He has asked to be remembered to all his old friends and colleagues at Chelmsford and Baddow especially Maritime Development, Communications and Space Systems and Research. He also said that he greatly enjoyed the recent newsletter. There we are Ken — all your hard work has paid off in putting the newsletter together and is appreciated.

We have also heard from Alf Porter who sends his regards to all friends of Marconi Airadio Division, Basildon. He regrets that he cannot travel too far these days.

We have heard from 2 Veterans who live on the Isle of Man. Dick Elstrop is sorry not to be with us this year and says have a great time. Mike Southall who lives in Ramsey on the Isle of Man hopes to see everyone at a future reunion but can’t make it this year. He sends kind regards to all friends and colleagues. Happy memories of Marconi’s from 1958 to 1993.

And now for a trip down memory lane:

We have heard from Veteran Mrs June Mason

From Veteran Mrs June Mason
I was sent to work in Marconi’s in 1942, aged 14 yrs. I went to work in the Packing Despatch Dept. My Foreman was Mr F. Marshall, a very strict but fair man. I enjoyed the work, it was so varied.
They issued us with tin helmets, so, when we had air raids, you stayed at your bench with your helmet on ’till you got three bells.
Then you went into the main building and stood behind a 6ft brick wall.
I stayed at Marconi’s for 46yrs and worked my way up to a supervisory position, in charge of the Preservation Dept which was for the Armed Services.
Also, in those days, the goods yard was across the road and they used to shunt trucks into the Marconi siding which the men loaded and then they were shunted back.
I was interested to read that Bellway Homes are keeping the front offices — our office was the one by the sidings.
I have many happy memories of my years there, when it was Marconi’s, a great firm to work for.

We have also heard from Mrs Dilys Edwards (a friend of the Association)

From Mrs Dilys Edwards (a Friend of The Association)
I look forward to the newsletter and read it from start to finish.
I wonder if you can do me a favour. Would it be possible to ask anyone who worked at Pottery Lane, to recall their memories?
I never see mention of that “little place”. Mostly “little huts” until they built a brick building especially for PDS. The “way in” was a pathway covered in coke cinders — not a good surface for the female workers that wore high heels, nor the male workers that rode bicycles.
The canteen was, in my opinion, the best. The manageress was a lady called Vi. We always had plenty of beef dripping sandwiches, on alternate days, served to the offices by Ernie, on a big trolley. There were two urns on the trolley, one Tea, one Coffee. Ernie came round at 9.30 a.m. and asked for the orders. That was for “tea break”.
The meals served in the canteen were marvellous! But, on Fridays, she didn’t have to cook many dinners. It was “pay day” and most of her regulars were at the “local” — the pub with the biggest bay window in Essex – it was called “The Clock House”. Needless to say, most of us “clocked” in late and were deducted pay on our next pay packet. Oh yes, those little brown envelopes with the holes, so you could count the notes and coins before you signed for your “wage packet”.
Perhaps, one day, I’ll be able to get in touch with other Pottery Lane Veterans.

We have received a message about Derek Juniper who recently fell off a ladder and broke his leg and 5 ribs.

Please be upstanding for a toast to Absent Veterans.

 

 

Our Guest of Honour – 2013

Our Guest of Honour this year was Mr Jonathan Douglas Hughes OBE DL who is a senior partner of Gepp & Sons, solicitors in Chelmsford and Under Sheriff for the county of Essex.

J_Douglas_Hughes

In his speech Mr Douglas-Hughes concentrated on his work as Under Sheriff.  This is very much a legal role and, in particular, he has on his staff four bailiffs.  He is not involved in the day to day collection of small dues but becomes involved in major recoveries.

He recounted the story of a Boeing 707 presidential jet that was flown into Stansted from Africa with the president’s family.  The owner of the aircraft (not the president or his government) required payment of the leasing dues and others required payment for the fuel.  As  a result the aircraft was seized and the under Sheriff ultimately disposed of the plane to recover as much money as possible.