Marconi Statue in town centre?

This article was first published on Friday 23 April 2004 in the Essex Chronicle to whom due acknowledgement and thanks is given.

marconi_highstreetwebThis is how the statue of wireless pioneer Marconi could look when it is moved to a new home in Chelmsford town centre, as suggested by the Essex Chronicle last year. Essex Chronicle picture editor Mike Rose mocked up this computer-generated image to illustrate plans to transfer the statue from its current location at the Essex Records Office to outside Lloyds Bank.

Council chief executive Martin Easteal revealed: “Because the Marconi Centre is clearly not going to materialise at Chelmer Waterside, at least in the time frame previously planned, the future of the Marconi Statue has been reviewed. “A team of council officers from the Architects and Town Planning Services is now looking at a prominent site in the High Street – close to High Chelmer and Lloyds Bank – as its final home”.

Marconi Veterans Association vice chairman Peter Turrall said: “The Essex Chronicle and the Veterans Association have said all along it should go in the High Street. We are delighted with the move.”

In Memoriam

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

Miss J.M.Barrett
T.Bell
D.Burton
D.F.Camp
W.M.Davies
R.J.Devine
N.G.Ginn
T.Harper
Miss H.Harris
J.A.Hird
G.Ironmonger
N.D.Ling
S.W.Ling
A.J.Locke
G.J.Macdonald
G.Monk
R.C.F.Norfolk
F.Pashley
Mrs G.M.Phillips
G.C.Rayner
J.A.Richards
L.Simmonds
H.W.Skinner
A.Stevens
G.C.Waskett
A.I.Webster
J.Wells
F.Wooderson
W.D.Worthy

This list was up to date on 5 May 2004 and supercedes the list published in the January 2004 newsletter.

Is this the new home for the Marconi statue?

This article was first published on Friday 23 April 2004 in the Essex Chronicle to whom due acknowledgement and thanks is given.

marconi_highstreetweb1This is how the statue of wireless pioneer Marconi could look when it is moved to a new home in Chelmsford town centre, as suggested by the Essex Chronicle last year. Essex Chronicle picture editor Mike Rose mocked up this computer-generated image to illustrate plans to transfer the statue from its current location at the Essex Records Office to outside Lloyds Bank.

Council chief executive Martin Easteal revealed: “Because the Marconi Centre is clearly not going to materialise at Chelmer Waterside, at least in the time frame previously planned, the future of the Marconi Statue has been reviewed. “A team of council officers from the Architects and Town Planning Services is now looking at a prominent site in the High Street – close to High Chelmer and Lloyds Bank – as its final home”.

Marconi Veterans Association vice chairman Peter Turrall said: “The Essex Chronicle and the Veterans Association have said all along it should go in the High Street. We are delighted with the move.”

Marconi Canadian Stamps

The following stamps were kindly sent to us by the ex secretary to Sir Robert Telford, Pauline Easton, who had received them from a friend in Canada. She wished the stamps to be lodged in a safe and appropriate place.

The envelope shown here, together with a sheet of the unused stamps, will be placed in the care of Chelmsford Museums and held at Sandford Mill.  The Mill also holds many other Marconi related artefacts.

Sandford Mill is not open on a daily basis but holds several open days throughout the year.  For more details phone +44 1245 475498 or view the web site at http://www.chelmsford.gov.uk/museums/engine.htm During these open days the stamps and other items can be viewed on request.

Envelope front
Envelope front
Envelope reverse
Envelope reverse

Larger versions of these images can be viewed at the gallery www.marconi-veterans.org/gallery/

The text of the inscription on the reverse of the envelope is reproduced below

English on the left column

CANADA’S world-renowned expertise in global communications technologies is rooted in a history of impressive breakthroughs. This year marks the centenaries of two milestones in the evolution of overseas telecommunications.

On October 31, 1902, Sir Sandford Fleming sent the first around-the-world telegram from and to Ottawa, via a globe-encircling network of deep-sea telegraph cables constituting the British Empire’s “All-Red Line.” The transmission, which amazingly took just a day, was made possible by the completion of Fleming’s brainchild, the 13,000-kilometre Pacific Cable originating at Bamfield, BC.

The following December 15, the first transatlantic message by wireless – technology dubbed “whisper in the air” by a Cape Breton newspaper – was sent from transmitting towers in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, to Poldhu, England. The Canadian government-funded achievement was the culmination of years of work by the “Wizard of Wireless,” Guglielmo Marconi.

French on the right column

LA RENOMMÉE mondiale du Canada en matière de technologies des communications découle d’une histoire jalonnée d’avancées impressionnantes. Cette année marque le centenaire de deux événements importants qui ont contribue à l’évolution des télécommunications outre-mer.

Le 31 octobre 1902, sir Sandford Fleming a envoyé le premier télégramme a faire le tour du monde. Expédié d’Ottawa, le message n’a mis qu’une journée pour arriver à destination après avoir emprunté un réseau de câbles télégraphiques sous-marins ceinturant la planète, appelé la « All-Red Line » de l’Empire britannique. C’est Fleming qui avait eu I’idée d’installer un câble transpacifique de 13 000 kilomètres de long, dont le point d’origine était situé à Bamfield, en Colombia-Britannique.

Le 15 décembre suivant, la première transmission sans fil – une technologie surnommée « chuchotements dans les airs » par un journal du Cap-Breton – a été envoyée à Poldhu, en Angleterre, à partir de pylônes d’émission situés à Glace Bay, en Nouvelle-Écosse. Financé par le gouvernement canadien, cet exploit constituait I’aboutissement des nombreuses années de travail de Guglielmo Marconi, le « magicien » de la transmission sans fil.

LOWE-MARTIN
DESIGN / CONCEPTION: SUSAN WARR
ILLUSTRATION : BONNIE ROSS
PHOTOS : BRITISH COLUMBIA ARCHIVES. C. BRADBURY / ARCHIVES DE LA COLOMBIE-BRITANNIQUE, C. BRADBURY, BEATON INSTITUTE, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF CAPE BRETON / INSTITUT BEATON, COLLEGE UNIVERSITAIRE DU CAP-BRETON

Newsletter 2004

Number 6
January 2004

DEATH OF MARCONI VETERANS NEWSLETTER

Yes I am afraid the above headline is true, unless within the next six months you Marconi Veterans (there are over 1,400 of you still active) sit down for a few minutes and drop a line to our Editor.  I need inputs to keep this Newsletter going and despite my appeals I have received less than a dozen stories etc.  If you want this Newsletter to continue over the ensuing years, then a constant stream of reminiscences, photos, news of Veterans, births, marriages and even deaths are useful to pad out the Newsletter.  Remember, like you, other Veterans would like to know what is going on in the world of ex-Marconi.

It is up to you now Marconi Veterans – this is your very last chance.  Depending on the amount of inputs will decide if you get a Newsletter in 2005.  You will not get another reminder – the Newsletter will just die as the headline suggests unless ……….

In the last twelve months we have had our Annual Re-union.  There was a very good turnout to mark the Presidency of Veteran Stan Church.  He gave us many happy memories of his working life in his introductory speech.  Charles Rand our Chairman introduced him and Guest of Honour was ex Managing Director of Marconi Radar Systems, John Sutherland.  John gave a very polished presentation of the pitfalls of the previous mismanagement of our parent Company resulting in the loss by shareholders of many millions of pounds.  Many of those present at the Re-union including John, lost large sums of money because of the failure in recognising the state of the market and the wrongful purchase of non British companies which had or later made tremendous financial and trading losses.

The current Marconi management are desperately trying to keep the Company name of Marconi going and shares in the new Company are healthy at the moment.

Marconi Recognised at Long Last in Chelmsford

Your Editor over many years has had personal “run-ins” with the local Chelmsford Borough Council to get our Founder recognised in the town.  One result of his intervention two years ago was the erection of signs at all the entrances of the Borough of Chelmsford that Chelmsford was “The Birthplace of Radio” (the last word should have been Wireless) but something is better than nothing

marconi_thumb

Notwithstanding this, your Editor pushed further for something more tangible tied to our Founder.  The result was that Chelmsford Borough Council decided to run an International competition to find a suitable solution to recognise the work of Marconi in Chelmsford over so many years.  Your Editor sat with others on a panel to decide the most fitting result of this International presentation.  Over 40 presentations were made which were ultimately sifted down to a shortlist of 6.  Each of the presentations was examined again and one was chosen as the most representative of our Founders work.  It was a life-size statue, prepared in bronze by Suffolk Sculptor Stephen Hickling

It took well over a year to prepare and a Macquette of this was shown in 2001 to Princess Elettra Marconi when she unveiled the entry signs to the town in November of that year.  In February 2003 Princess Elettra came back to Chelmsford at the invitation of Chelmsford Borough Council to unveil the life size statue of her father Marchese Guglielmo Marconi.  The cost of which was met by the three remaining firms in Chelmsford who were part of the original Company plus of course the Chelmsford Borough Council.  The ceremony in front of Press and Television cameras took place at The Essex Records Office in Wharf Road Chelmsford.  The statue at the moment remains within the walls of the Records Office but it is hoped in future years, following the building of a hotel and other complexes, that the statue will be rehoused in a more prominent position alongside what is hoped, will be the final resting place for the Marconi Archives.

There has been a lot of comments in the local press on the placing of the Marconi Statue in a more prominent place in the centre of the town.  The development of the Wharf Road area is off the mainstream of Chelmsford and the statue will not be seen by people for years to come, unless they make a specific journey to the Essex Records Office.  Marconi did a lot for Chelmsford giving employment to many thousands of people, supplying some of the worlds best electronic products and above all putting Chelmsford on the map from a sleepy market town to a major industrial area.  This in itself brought orders from all over the world for both Commercial and Defence products.  The people benefiting from this were of course those employed and their families and the shopkeepers of Chelmsford who took advantage of the growing population brought about by not only industrial Marconi, but also by Cromptons, Hoffmanns and Christy Brothers.Chelmsford ought to recognise more fully its famous sons and whilst we have now got recognition after 100 years of Marconi’s work, let us be proud and show the rest of the world by putting his statue in the centre of Chelmsford.  After all, Marconi’s has brought fame and fortune to Chelmsford and the town has become a tourist attraction because of this.

Ed

Caption Competition

Again the inputs to this were very few considering the number of Veterans who receive this Newsletter.  Does this mean you are no longer interested in having a little light relief?  We will try once again to whet your appetite and if this fails again, it will be the last time we try.  In fact as mentioned earlier, this could be your last Newsletter unless you Veterans respond to our request for inputs.  All the entries are detailed and the winners who will receive a copy of Editors book “Chelmsford, a Stroll through Time” are marked with an asterisk.

image002

Harry Edwards
“It’s for youoo”

Colin Page
* “These mobile phones will never catch on” and
“Vatican City 2 – Arsenal 0”

David Speake
“It’s your wife.  She is asking if you have seen her ear muffs anywhere”
Gordon Snell
“Chelmsford on the phone, more redundancies in the pipe-line”

Peter Farnworth
“I thought you’d brought the batteries.  Oh well, just keep talking and perhaps no one will notice”  and
* “I’ve had to wear this dratted hearing aid ever since I went to the MASC disco”

Dr. Brian Wardrop
“You know, Guggy, I really can’t see this mobile radio thing being of much use”  and
“Early days in wireless transference”

Alan Stevens
“Don’t you think, Mr. Marconi, that we should be achieving a greater range than two feet?”

New Caption Competition

Nellie Melba

image004 The Editor will once again present one of his own books “Chelmsford, a Stroll through Time” recently published and covering life in the town in the late 1940’s as seen through the eyes of himself to the three best captions received.

Chelmsford a Stroll Through Time

As mentioned in the previous Newsletter, the Editor has written a book covering life in Chelmsford in the late 1940’s onwards.  This has been selling at £11.00 each.  However, if Marconi Veterans purchase this book at £8.00 per copy plus 75p UK postage, 50% of this cost will be given to the funds of our Veterans Association.  Orders should be sent with cheque or Postal Orders direct to the Editor whose address appears on the last page of the Newsletter.

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Coasters

Each year we produce a Coaster, which is handed out at the Annual Re-union.  These Coasters are rapidly becoming a Collectors item.  Our Secretary Bernard Hazelton has got some of the Coasters, which were issued at previous Re-unions, and these are pictured below.  If you would like to purchase any of these for your own collection, please forward Bernard a cheque at £1.00 each Coaster plus a further £1.00 to cover postage and packing.  If you collect them yourself, you save the postage and packing costs.

Becoming a Veteran

Since we published on the front page of the January 2003 Newsletter details of Marconi Veteran new membership requirements, we have had a number of people applying for Membership.  In most cases our sub-Committee have been able to give a positive response and, it is encouraging that more people are taking up membership of the Association.  If you know of anybody who might fall into the categories previously mentioned of 21 years with Marconi or associated Units, then please contact our Secretary Bernard Hazelton.

Subscriptions

Fellow Veterans, your Annual Subscription is now due.  The Veterans Committee have once again agreed to keep the amount the same as last year i.e. £5.00.  Will you all please send your Subscription as soon as possible to Bernard Hazelton whose address appeas on the “Contacts” page. A Subscription form with Bernard’s address is included as an insert to the paper copy of this Newsletter.  It would be appreciated if subscriptions could be sent before the end of March.

For a downloadable copy of the Subscription Form in PDF format click here.

Obituaries

The obituaries published in this newsletter have been moved to the Archive.  To view the list from the newsletter Click here.  To view the whole archive Click here.

Mr. Osman Mortada died on 4th March 2003 aged 87.  He was born in London of Egyptian/French parents and returned to Cairo to receive his early education.  As a young man he worked for the Marconi Company of Egypt and travelled and worked in nearby Arab countries.  He later returned to England to receive higher education and his degree qualification at Imperial College in London.

He worked for several companies including Redifon and Standard Telephones and Cables before joining the Marconi Wireless and Telegraph Co. at Chelmsford in the Export Department.  For a time he was the Company’s Resident Representative in Cairo but returned to UK in 1952 to become Middle East Representative.  Based initially at Marconi House in the Strand and later with International Division at Chelmsford, he travelled extensively throughout the Middle East.  He was responsible for promoting, negotiating and overseeing many major projects throughout the region including Egypt, Iran, Iraq and Turkey.

In 1959 he became Export Manager but his interest and undoubted expertise lay in the Middle East and he left the Company in 1960 to set up his own company representing many important companies in the M.E.
He always followed with great interest the achievements of the Marconi Company and was saddened at its demise.  Those who knew him and worked with him greatly respected his abilities.

N.B. It would help if Veterans hear of the passing of any Ex Marconi Veterans that they telephone our Secretary Bernard Hazelton with details as we do try as far as possible to have representatives attending the funeral or advising Marconi Units.

Marconi Memorabilia

Over the last year, many of you have contributed to the Marconi collection in the Chelmsford Industrial Museum at Sandford Mill.  Many thanks for helping to preserve the work of our Company.  Dr. Geoffrey Bowles will be pleased to receive any Marconi item, letters, books or photographs and better still equipment.  If you have any item, please advise the Editor or any Committee member.  You can of course take the items direct to Sandford Mill where they will be gratefully received and catalogued.  The Marconi Collection there is growing fast and is very impressive.  Please visit the Sandford Mill on Open Days which are extensively advertised in the local Press.  There is always one in July and sometimes one in April.  In due course Chelmsford Borough Council hope to have improved access roads in the area resulting in the Museum being open more frequently.

Marconi Veterans’ President 2004

Your Veterans Committee is pleased to announce that David Frost previously Financial Director of Marconi Avionics at Basildon has agreed to be our President for the year 2004.  David is now a Consultant to BAE Systems.  He started with Marconi’s on leaving King Edward VI Grammar School in Chelmsford.  He rates among his past times Golf and Badminton as ways of keeping fit through the year after the strenuous days of accounting.  The Re-Union for 2004 is on Saturday 17th April.

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The Marconi Veterans Website

The MVA has been planning a Web Site for the Association for some time.  A usable site has now been designed, at the moment it only contains seven pages and a few pictures.  It has been tested on a computer and seen by all members of the MVA Committee.  It will remain essentially a text based site in the short term as we must assume that the majority of Veterans will only have a dial-up connection that is not really suitable for a graphic intensive site.  However, it is designed for the benefit of Veterans and, within reason and legality, it can contain anything relative to the old Marconi Company that people require.

Marconi Corporation plc has registered the domain names “marconiveterans.org” and “marconiveterans.com” on behalf of the MVA but, the Association will have to find an Internet Company which can host the site.  The two addresses above will then be re-directed to the host.  At the time of writing the Webmaster is in discussion with a possible Internet Company and it is hoped that the site can be made live by early 2004.

The Website will have facilities for electronic communication with members of the Committee.  We will pass on e-mails to other members if we know their address although we cannot divulge members’ individual addresses.

Note from webmaster; You are now reading this from the website so some of the information in the above paragraphs is clearly out of date.  However, it has been retained in this newsletter for completeness with the paper copy sent to many members.

Letters

Apologies for the poor printing in the January 2003 Newsletter of “Letters to the Editor”.  We have decided to retype the letters in this issue rather than scan them which was the reason for the poor presentation previously.

From Dennis Moore

I was pleased to see in your January 2003 Newsletter a cricketing face I remember, that of Billy Lee recalling games at Waterhouse Lane and Beehive Lane. I joined MWT Co. Ltd. in 1956 as a Grad. Apprentice and worked in the Aeronautical Division at Writtle from 1958 and Basildon until retirement in 1995.The team members I recall were Micky May, Pat Saltmarsh, Vic Church, Jim Dyer, George Ottley, Ken Goody, Ray Morgan, Bobbie Lincoln, Denny Clark, Reg and Roy Sleet, Ted Hutchings and many others.

I can recollect playing at Chelmsford ground when Geoff Hurst was the wicket keeper for Chelmsford  Highlights of our season were the annual fixture against Ernest Turner the Instrument Makers from High Wycombe (Managing Director Norman Turner would drive us around the field at Waterhouse Lane in his new pride and joy Jaguar!) and our annual tours to Hampshire around Havant and Emsworth. Best wishes to all survivors of those halcyon days!

From Douglas Francis Camp

I noticed in your recent Newsletter that not many Veterans send you material for publishing. I feel very diffident to give my personal experiences after many years – but as the time spent with the Company (1946 – 1974) was both happy and satisfying, I feel that perhaps a few words might help.

I joined the Marconi Instruments Company in its old corrugated ex-war food storage Nissan hut after being demobbed from the Army where after some “interesting postings”, I ended up with the Royal Corps of Signals Unit – which was quite a small unit attached to the Foreign Office and centered on the Post Office Research Station at Dollis Hill.  I fear that if I elaborate further there may be a problem with classified information so you may draw your own conclusions.

When I was demobbed I began to think about taking up my teaching of Mathematics in schools but as I now lived in St. Albans I went for an interview to Marconi Instruments.  All I had to offer was my teaching experience and work in the Royal Corps of Signals where I had taken, in my spare time, City and Guilds Certificates in Radio.

It may be worth relating that at this interview the manager of the Calibration Department – greeted me with the news that they were not really interested as they had already been forced to take on some ex-service men and were not keen to take many more.  I explained that even after the first World War at the age of 10 I had begun to build my own crystal sets – and this I continued to do and progressed as equipment became more modernised – I finished up at last building my own television set using the latest and only (at that time) nearly flat screen.

Anyway as a last resort (to get rid of me the manager gave me a blue-print and said “what do you make of that?”  To my surprise it was the blue-print of a B.F.O. (Beat Frequency Oscillator).  Strange to say – I had been sent up to Dollis Hill – to make some modifications to a model of the B.F.O. for use in the field.

Without revealing the truth I convinced him that I did know something more than an Army “key thumper”.

As a result I was taken on and spent many happy years calibrating test instruments which at that time were improving all the time.

Finally I was sent to India to the English Electric factory in Madras to teach Indian Staff how to manufacture Calibrating Instruments – Signal Generators both A.M. and F.M. – I was there until I retired in 1974.  I apologise if this has been too personal and too boring but you did ask for it.  (p.s. India is another story).

From Bill Barbone

I was so interested in the notes by Tom Gutteridge about the production of the “B” set because I used one in Rome in 1945 at the end of the Italian campaign when Ham Radio was starting up.

How this came about I have described on the web site of the History of Communications in Vienna on  www.QSL.at

You might be interested to look at this site as I have also described the development of Signals use of High Power Marconi equipment in War Office Communications to the Mediterranean Theatre, including lots of photo’s.  If you go to the site and click on the “XA riddle”, you will come to my article.

Also in the current Newsletter is the note from Jimmy Leadbetter on the Gothic installation of the SWB11X.  I was the development engineer responsible for the production versions of the SWB8X and the SWB11X.

As it happens I was the first Engineer to move in Bld 46 in 1950 and my first job was the uprating of the two SWB transmitters to the X edition to meet the new post war 1947 CCIR regulations and to incorporate the use of Single Sideband voice transmission.

Not many new ones were produced, in fact we had a contract to upgrade a lot of the old War Office stock and I remember going to various MoD Depots to pick suitable models to uprate!  This was because restrictions had been placed on the purchase of new equipment, but the refurbishment of old equipment was allowed (even if it cost twice as much!!)

I well remember A.J.G. Corbett and the preparations for the Gothic installation.  Also I seem to remember that the use of the Worldspan Transmitter was it’s first operational use and there was a great deal of panic in the lab (Bld 29 then) to get it fully up to performance for the Gothic.

From Colin Page

Did you know there was a fairly new book now available about the history and work of Marconi and others called “Wireless” from Marconi’s Black Box to the Audion.

It is by Sungook Hong and was published in 2001 so you may well have seen it, but I thought I would tell you in case you had not.

I have it on loan from the Library at the moment, but it will be back sometime when I have finished it.

From Tom Gutteridge/Bill Meehan

My letter in the previous Newsletter about Suitcase Sets produced a reply from Bill Meehan, which I found interesting.

The “suitcase set” comes in quite a lot of different versions, the three most popular being:

a)      Type 3 Mark I or B3: Probably used 1941-43.  24” long suitcase, gross weight 42lbs.

b)      Type 3 Mark II or B2: Probably introduced 1942-43 as a lighter version of (a).  About 18” long suitcase.  Gross weight 32lbs

Both (a) and (b) above are said to have been manufactured at the Special Operations Executive’s factory at Stoneley Park North London.  32-42lbs is a lot of weight to carry but was about par for the course for a robust portable military transceiver in those days.  The army manpack sets, Nos 18 and 22 were both in that range and carried as backpacks.  Carrying that sort of weight in a suitcase, to be swung nonchalantly in one hand while strolling down the street in front of the Gestapo, must have needed some practice and intestinal fortitude.

c)      A Mark III or A3: More of an attaché case size.  Weight said to be only 8lbs but I’m not sure I can believe that.  It appeared in the field in 1944.  There is some documentary evidence at the Signals Museum that more than 400 of these were made by “Marconi”.  I guess these were the ones you tested at Parsons Green.

d)      A Special version of the Army 18 set made for the SOE “Jedbergh” teams.  These were three man SOE teams consisting of one Brit, one American and one Frenchman, who started parachuting into France a little before D Day to help the various French resistance groups form into proper fighting/sabotage groups.  They were in uniform, unlike the SOE teams of agents.  The standard 18 set was modified to be powered by a hand cranked generator, tripod mounted.  Three satchels of equipment could be made into one backpack, weighing 45lbs.

The technical spec for all of the above was much the same:

Crystal controlled.  Frequency range about 3.5 – 12 (or 15) MHz.  LT or AC operation.  At the lower frequencies, the range is said to be up to 500 miles with the right frequency selection but I suspect that the UK base stations all had propagation advice from somewhere and they dictated the frequencies to be used by the agents at different times and seasons.  I guess they were all about 30 watts output to an inefficient aerial, said to be about 70 ft.

There was also a US Army set, circa 1945, called the “AN/PRC1 Suitcase Radio”.  Two bands switchable 2-5 and 5-12 mc/s.  30 watt. Crystal controlled.  18” x 13¼” x 7¼”.  Weight 32lbs.  Don’t know where it was used.

Recommended reading on the subject – History of the Second World War – SOE in France by M.R.D. Foot, published by HMSO in 1966.  There is a copy in the Essex library system.  Also, a book with lots of wireless operator interviews: Behind the Lines – The Oral History of Special Operations in WWII by Russell Miller.  Published by Secker & Warburg 2002.  Neither of those has much real technical data, but both are interesting reading.

However, you can see a selection of suitcase sets at the Royal Signals Museum, Blandford Camp, Blandford, Forum, Dorset.  Open Mon-Fri 9.30-4.30.  The main exhibition open to the public includes a display of suitcase sets and ancillaries, some of which you might recognise.  There is also, as you might expect, quite a lot of kit there.  The phone number is 01258 482413 and it might be worth checking in case they’re closed for Spring-cleaning or something.

Apart from SOE doing this sort of stuff, there was a separate organisation with MI6 in the field with wireless operators.  Within SOE, in addition to the French F section there was the RF section controlled by the “Free French”, plus another SOE Section organising the escape routes for POWs and aircrew on the run, another for the large Polish communities in France in the coal mining and industrial areas.  All of these unknown to each other, theoretically.  I have concentrated on France here but the same sort of thing was going on in most of the countries occupied by the Germans and the Japanese.

The Germans, in particular, devoted quite a lot of resources to tracking down the SOE wireless operators, with constant monitoring of the HF bands and the use of mobile D/F units to home in.  According to one respected authority, the young male and female wireless operators had a life expectancy of just six weeks before being picked up.  Many were then executed.  The trick was to change location for every new transmission, to operate out in the countryside and to spend a little time as possible on the air.  To do this they had to lug a heavy battery around in addition to the 32/42lbs.

From Bill Godden

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MV Gothic:     With reference to Jimmy Leadbetter’s article in Newsletter No. 5.  This photograph of the Gothic I hope is of interest.  I took it in April 1968 as she was leaving London on what I understood at the time to be her last voyage.  She looks to have a full cargo so I suppose she possibly discharged in New Zealand before going up to the breakers in Taiwan

I sailed as 2R/O on the Gothic in 1956 with Bernie McGovern as Ch. R/O, he was a very patient man.

At that time she was trading to New Zealand as a First Class passenger cargo liner, the sparkle of the Royal Tour faded but still within memory.  She carried about 80 passengers.

I believe there were many alterations made to the ship before and after the tour and when I was onboard I think the radio installation consisted of:-

“Oceanspan III” main transmitter.  “Reliance” reserve transmitter.  “CR300” main receiver.  “Alert” (fixed tuned to 500khz) guard receiver.  Automatic keying device.  “Vigilant”(?) Auto alarm.  “Salvita” Lifeboat transmitter.  “Lodestone” D/F.  I don’t remember the radar or echosounder.  “Oceanic” S.R.E.

It was a good run to New Zealand, bunkering at Port of Spain, through the Panama Canal and stopping off at Pitcairn Island home of the “Bounty Mutineers”.  At Pitcairn Island we drifted off and the islanders came out to us in longboats to bring out patients for the ship’s doctor, collect stores and any mail, to put mail on board for delivery to New Zealand.  They also brought out fruit and souvenirs for sale to passengers and crew.

Some years later there was a fire on board which caused some fatalities.  The radio room was put out of action and the R/O used the Lifeboat transceiver to communicate with AwaruaRadio.  The ship only carried freight after that.

From Kenneth Hutley

I spent a very happy 48 years with the company retiring in 1987 one year early mainly due to health problems.

In early May 1939 my father and I were interviewed in the old Canteen by Jack Frost the then General Manager with a view to my employment.  The next week I had a letter asking me to start work in the Standards Room under Mr. R. Cartwright on the 19th of May.  For the first few weeks my pay was 13/3 per week.

I spent three years with that section and was mainly employed drift running and compensating Franklin Drives, Master Oscillators used in SWB8 and SWB10 and SWB11 transmitters.

My next section was MobileTest which was led by Bill Stroud testing quite a variety of transmitters used in portable stations.  Whilst there it was my luck to test the first VHF transmitters for vehicles.

About 1950 work took me to VHF Development Group.  Jobs were varied and most interesting here, most of the section subsequently moved to Writtle after a year or two.

There was a shortage of work in 1958 at Writtle and so I was seconded to Rivenhall to help with a large project going on there.

Two weeks after my marriage in 1961 I was recalled to Writtle and give the task of forming a section to Repair and look after all the Test Equipment on the site.  This was an enjoyable time and the help given me by permanent staff and apprentices was much appreciated.

We moved to New Street in 1974 and finally to West Way from where I retired still repairing Test Equipment although more specialised.

In 1986 I took the Radio Amateurs Examination and today hold the Callsign G0VDP.  My 2 metre equipment is on most days as is also the HF rig and it would be a great pleasure to have a chat with other Veterans who also have amateur call signs.

From Peter Helsdon

In the latest Marconi Veterans Newsletter I was interested to see a mention of John Sidebotham.  I first met him when he visited Power Test during the War.  He mentioned that he had been a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy on board a Destroyer which was involved in The Tizard Mission which took all the British Military secrets to the USA in 1940.  This included one of the first six production magnetrons.  These were taken by the ship Duchess of Richmond from Liverpool, which was later escorted by two Destroyers.  I presume John was on one of these.

One object of the Tizard Mission was to have the thousands of magnetrons needed, to be mainly produced by American resources.

Production in Chelmsford by Marconi started at Great Baddow where twenty a week were made by the end of 1940.  Later the new valve Laboratories in Waterhouse Lane took over production where several thousand were made.

From Keith Benzie

I worked in the Planning Department of Marconi Radar Systems at Bill Quay, Felling, Gateshead, and Tyne & Wear.  For almost thirty years (until the factory closure in the 80’s) and listed below are some of the shop floor humour/comical situations that I can recall.

The Balloon Man
Jack Frost (Foreman)
When replying to the question ”will you work overtime at the week end” Jack would say, “you will not let me down, will you?”

The Station Master
Bill Headly (Progress Man)
When asked about item shortages he would reply with the words “its due in now, any time”

The Alcoholic
Len (Progress Man)
He ended every phone conversation with the words “cheers now, cheers”

The Photographer
Allen Conley (Production Engineer)
Allen’s typical response when asked about an engineering problem would be “I will put you all in the picture”

The Vicar
Stan Rodham (Foreman)
When asking someone to work harder, he would say, “I’ll have you on your knees by 10.30”

Approximately 30 or so years ago one project that was taking place in the heavy fabrication shop was the manufacture of several small gear boxes, which were manufactured from plate and welded together, after welding they were filled with paraffin to check for leaks.

As paraffin is very viscose, the floor had a covering of sawdust to soak spillages.  The tale begins: An inspector by the name of Norman Lonsdale noticed a fire had developed in the area where the paraffin testing was taking place, he immediately informed the Gate House who in turn informed the Felling Fire Brigade, Gateshead Fire Service, Hebburn & Jarrow Fire Services, in all 9 Fire Tenders arrived.

The first Fire Engine arrived and was duly stopped from entering the factory at the Gate House by the Senior Security Officer, a Mr. Garvin who asked the dark skinned driver where he came from, the driver replied “Nigeria”, Mr. Garvin exclaimed “Never in the World you’ve arrived before the Felling Fire Brigade.

From Peter Helsdon

Dull Emitter Q valveimage0011

Attached is a photo of Captain H.J. Round’s Dull Emitter Q valve.  Which he designed in the early 1920’s to be used in the RF stages of wireless receivers.  I saved the Q valve from the New Street Scrap Yard, for 3d. about 1943.  In 1960 he came to Pottery Lane to have a record made of his life’s work at Marconi’s on film.  I loaned him my 1900 coherer and the DEQ valve to put on his desk for the film.

Soon afterwards I visited a seller of second hand items in Wood Street.  He had a similar radio receiver which had about five DEQ R.F. stages and some audio stages.  Unfortunately it was too heavy for me to carry home.

Marconi Marine – A Few Memories from 50 Years Ago – Jimmy Leadbitter

In the 1950’s the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company was taken over by English Electric and later on by GEC who then formed GEC-Marconi. The Marine Company was known as The Marconi International Marine Communications Company Ltd (MIMCO) was formed out of M.W.T. Co with Head Office Management, Administration, Accounts and Technical Staff housed in various areas of New Street Chelmsford including the roof. (Radar training under Harry Galway). Sales staff in Marconi House in the Strand, and the Main Stores at the East Ham Depot.

Every port in UK and many overseas, had a MIMCO Depot staffed by MIMCO personnel. Overseas ports included Accra, Aden, Chittagong, Freetown and Port Said. There was also a Technician based in South Georgia (Falklands) providing service to the Whaling Fleets. Major Depots in UK such as Southampton, Cardiff, Liverpool, Glasgow, Newcastle, Hull and East Ham employed more than 60 staff, the majority of whom were ex seagoing Radio Officers.

More than 2,500 Radio Officers were employed by the Company and allocated to ships by the much maligned Staff Clerk at major depots.

Hundreds of ships were being refitted by Depot technicians to meet the requirements of the 1952 Merchant Shipping Safety of Life at Sea, Radio Rules.

Among the new vessels being fitted with Marconi equipment were Iberia, Arcadia, Southern Cross, Empress of England, Empress of Britain, Orsova, Trawlers George Irwin and Fairtry and many cargo vessels and tankers.

At the Company AGM in 1954, the Chairman reported the British Merchant Fleet now compares in size to that of 1939 and MIMCO had received orders for re-equipping the majority of ships. Orders were received for supply and fitting of a full range of equipment for 12 “H” and “V” class Shell Tankers, and the supply of 67 Salvita portable lifeboat equipments for Ellerman Lines. More Radiolocator 1V’s were installed on British and Commonwealth Merchant ships in 1953/54 than the combined total of all other types of radar.

New equipment being designed and manufactured by MWT for MIMCO included Seaguard Auto Alarm receiver, Oceanspan V transmitter, Autokey (Automatic Keying Device), Graphette Echosounder and Salvita III Portable Lifeboat Equipment.

Newcastle Depot which had been in PUDDING CHARE since 1928 moved to Melbourne Street (this later office has now been demolished and luxury flats built in its place). Thorpe Hall was purchased.

Arrangements were made for the clock on the Royal Liver Building in Liverpool to be provided with electronically produced chimes. Previously it did not chime.

June 4th 1954. The 50th Anniversary of the first daily newspaper produced at sea on board RMS Campania. The Cunard Daily Bulletin consisted of 8 pages and cost 5 cents or 2½ old pence.

November 1954. The 50th Anniversary of the invention of the Thermionic Valve by Sir Andrew Fleming FRS who was at the time (1904) Scientific Adviser to MWT Co. This anniversary will be celebrated at the 2004 Reunion.

One Hundred Not Out and Still Going Strong

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K K PangKuo Kuan Pang, for many years our man in Hong Kong at Marchilim, celebrated on 29th November his 100th Birthday. “KK” as he is better known, was our Marconi Veteran’s President in 1979 when he was the first Overseas Veteran to obtain this honour.

KK was born in 1903 in Tiajan mainland China and spent his early years with Marconi’s in Peking and then later in Shanghai where he helped set up a Marconi factory. Marchese Guglielmo Marconi spent some time in Peking with KK and it was not until the late 1930’s that KK was forced to leave China for Hong Kong to set up the main Marconi office in that area.

Anybody passing through or to Hong Kong on Company business always stopped to meet the office staff and it was invariably KK or Sydney Heward the then Marconi Office Manager who showed them the sights of this fascinating city.

KK married Celia the Secretary of the original Marconi Company Manager in Peking, Mr. Richards. They spent many happy years together before Celia’s passing a few years ago. KK and Celia had one daughter, now living in Melbourne Australia and one son Francis who lives in Chelmsford. Francis was educated in the UK as an Architect and has recently retired.

Congratulations KK we wish you well.

Then and Now

These photographs show The Marconi Marine Depot in Newcastle just before the demolition contractors moved in
Before

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and after they had razed the building to the ground.

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Yet another of the famous Marconi units to bite the dust. This place must bring back memories to a great many Marconi Marine people.  What a shame we have to lose such a building.

New England in the Fall – By Peter Bickers ex-President MC Inc (previously with MCSL)

image0013Despite spending four years at MC Inc in Washington I never managed to visit New England in the Fall, so this year with my wife Jean I set out to not only see the fall but to seek out a couple of Marconi related areas of interest in this part of the USA. Our trip started in Cape Cod area where I had read the first transatlantic radio station had been established. Sure enough on the second day on the road to Provincetown we came across a sign to Marconi Beach (South Wellfleet) and the site of Marconi’s first wireless site in the USA. A small visitors centre and plaque record where the first US commercial wireless station was established.

The Station was operated as Marconi Wireless Telegraph Station of America and the bright red station board proudly proclaimed “Rapid automatic Transatlantic Service”. The first Wireless Telegram was sent from President Roosevelt on January 19th 1903 to King Edward VII. It was intended for re-transmission via Glace Bay in Canada but the conditions were so good that it was picked up direct by Poldhu. Apart from the visitor centre the only evidence of the site are two concrete footings from the original wooden antenna towers.

image0022Leaving Cape Cod we headed for New Hampshire to call in on the Marconi Museum. We found it located in a beautiful leafy suburb of Bedford. The Museum is the result of ten years planning by Ray Minichiello P.E. and his wife Dr. Pricilla Cusi. It is located in an old school house which after extensive renovation provides an excellent home for the extensive collection that Ray has assembled during his career with the General Electric Company. Besides having some very early Marconi equipment including a spark transmitter, there is a very interesting collection of early commercial and domestic American radio equipment including some beautiful three valve receivers which besides providing radio reception were built as works of art to be proudly displayed. Ray had even obtained the original station plaque from the Cape Cod station. While we were there we met some of the volunteer support group who help to run the museum. Why has Ray who never worked for Marconi devoted himself to establishing the Museum and its foundation? When he was five his father took the young Ray along to meet Guglielmo Marconi and he has never forgotten the great man and that he patted him on the head. If you have an opportunity and are in the area the Museum is a must for any Marconi Veteran. I can guarantee a warm reception, if you can go look out any old equipment or documents they would be most welcomed.

Early Days of a Secretary at Marconi’s – By Val Cleare, Ex Marconi Comms (now with AMS)

I can recall when I was a trainee on an Intensive Secretarial Shorthand-Typist Course, I learnt to “touch-type” using a manual typewriter at the local College of Further Education. We were not allowed to look at the keys, all we had was a diagram of the keyboard at the front of the classroom. During the training period I also had to type to some military music without looking at the keys! What fun! During the first year I spent 6 months at the Company’s Secretarial Training College, the keys of the manual typewriter were covered up completely!

During the first 4 months of my training course in the Company, I worked in a department learning about systems and office practices and had access to a manual typewriter which comprised of the following: the carriage belonged to an Imperial 66 and the main keyboard to an Imperial 70 with a very large typeface (which was difficult to change the size). One of my first tasks was to type lots of columns of figures which proved to be a nightmare with such a typeface! I felt that the typewriter was fit only for the Museum! Fortunately, I shared the office with another secretary who worked part-time, so I saved up the difficult tasks to use her manual typewriter which was far superior to mine.

At the end of my first year’s training, I spent a fortnight in the Technical Information Department where I used a manual typewriter which included technical symbols. I can remember that some symbols I was required to type I had to make up by using a combination of two or even three keys at the same time (so different from modern information technology)!

p.s. In the distant past I have vague recollection of telex machines and stencilling!

Christmas 1944

Jenesis poemimage0014

This photograph was found in an old office at New Street Chelmsford. The name at the bottom is “Jenesis” but the Author is unknown. In 1944 the Second World War was still in progress and it is assumed this could have been either a morale booster poster or a Christmas Card for those in the fighting services or employed in the factory. Please let the editor know if you have any information on this photograph. Note: reading the first letter on each line spells MARCONIS.

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The Lizard Meneage

What does this title conjure up in your mind? No it is not the name of any predator or even a simple Gecko. It is the name of a Newspaper issued in Cornwall and published by Newsquest on behalf of LPTA Lizard Peninsula Tourism Association.

The Newspaper, issued four times a year, covers all the events in Cornwall especially around the area known as the Lizard. It is here where our Founder Guglielmo Marconi carried out his early experiments of sending wireless signals across the sea and especially when the transatlantic signals were sent across the Atlantic Ocean to Newfoundland in the early 1900’s.

It is well worth visiting the Marconi site in this area and better still, send for a copy of the Lizard Meneage before you visit as this contains pages of useful information and details of forthcoming events. On a regular basis, the newspaper provides details of Marconi past and current activities in the area. The people living in this part of the UK are extremely proud of their Marconi connection and will always be pleased to show you the artefacts and the original Wireless Station.

For further details contact Rosemary Peters 01326 281079 or E-mail lpta@lizard-peninsula.co.uk

Whistle Blowers of Marconi

image001

The photograph above was taken in the New Street Canteen when all Referees who worked for the Chelmsford based Marconi Units came together for a photocall. Editor reckons this was in the late 1970’s and although faces and hairstyles have changed most of the “refs” can be recognised. However, one or two names are missing and if you recognise these then please drop the Editor a line.
Back Row (reading from left to right)
Boot Baines, Peter Evans, Peter Crisp, Brian Beatwell, Peter Parkhurst, unknown, unknown.

Middle Row
Unknown, unknown, Roger Wiseman, Charles Rand, Tony Harrington, Gordon Evans, Fred King, Roy Hurrell.

Front Row
Unknown, Charles Brown, Len Liddle, Bert Gilbert, Don Mott, John Pickering.

One notable and well known referee missing from the photograph is Jim Leadbitter who for many years before retirement was a Marconi Marine Manager. Jim lives locally and with Charles Rand is still very much involved in local football.

Professor Sir J. Ambrose Fleming

Sir J. Ambrose Fleming, a Professor of Electrical Technology and Lecturer at University College London, was engaged by Guglielmo Marconi to become his Scientific Advisor at the Chelmsford Development Laboratories in July 1900 but at the same time he retained his position at UCL.

One of Guglielmo Marconi’s attributes was a realistic assessment of his own practical limitations. If ever a problem lay outside the range of his own experience he would consider no loss of face to call in outside help. Just such a situation had materialised by reason of the super power transmitting stations (one in the UK and one in America) which were postulated, for it must be remembered that battery driven laboratory-type equipments were the only one in use at this time: nothing more powerful had ever been built. It was rather like proposing to build a Cathedral in a world which had never seen anything more than a grandiose log hut.

Characteristically, Marconi enlisted the services of a man whose past experience had run closest to that needed for the job in hand – Dr. later Sir J. Ambrose Fleming.

Dr. Fleming worked very closely with Marconi and many of the early Marconi stations at Poldhu and at Niton in the Isle of Wight were constructed with power plants and high voltage circuits designed by him.

In 1904 Dr. Fleming, one time pupil of the great Clerk Maxwell, embarked on some highly scientific work with Marconi to produce what we now know as the first “Thermionic Valve” which would become part of the Marconi Transmitters under construction. The “Thermionic Valve” (or diode as it would be termed now) was an oscillation valve (a one way device) and this invention patented by Fleming, was used as a standby to the Marconi designed Magnetic Detector.

image0024

The photograph shows the experimental Fleming “Thermionic Valve” which in 2004 will celebrate 100 years of its first introduction into Marconi equipment.

University College London, in conjunction with the IEE and Science Museum, will at the end of June and early July 2004, be holding exhibitions, conferences and lectures to celebrate this outstanding achievement in the early days of electronics and wireless communication. Marconi Veterans Association hope to have one of the leading Professors of UCL as their guest at the Veterans Re-union on 17th April 2004 to celebrate this achievement of Sir J. Ambrose Fleming.

A Special Day on the Lizard, Saturday 18th July 1903 – David Barlow, The Radio Officers Association Radio Society

In the summer of 1898 the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) had injured his leg and was convalescing on board the Royal yacht “Osborne”, which was lying off Cowes. Queen Victoria was insistent that regular medical bulletins were passed to her about her son’s progress. She was only a few miles away residing at Osborne House, but intervening hills made visual communications impossible. In the first three weeks of August over 150 messages were sent from the yacht to the Queen, using Guglielmo Marconi’s newfangled apparatus.

This event was the start of a friendship between Marconi and members of the Royal Family. It is well documented that Edward VII’s son George was an especial friend of Marconi and very interested in his work. When his father acceded to the throne in January 1901 George became Prince of Wales (subsequently King George V).

Poldhu on the Lizard had already made history when, on December 12th 1901, it sent the first transatlantic signal received by Marconi in Newfoundland. In 1903 Poldhu obtained a commercial licence from the Post Office and commenced a news, telegram, navigational and weather information service for shipping.

On 17th July 1903 the Prince and Princess of Wales were staying at Tregothnan, the home of Lord and Lady Falmouth. The party also included Guglielmo Marconi, Prince Alexander of Teck (brother of the Princess) and General Lord Grenfell.

image0015
Preparations were underway at Poldhu for the royal visit the next day. The wireless masts were decorated with bunting and flags and instructions were given for all the Marconi staff to be in attendance, wearing clean white pseudo navy uniforms. The other instruction was that on no account was anyone to speak to the royal party unless they were asked a question.
On the Saturday morning a convoy of motorcars transported the guests, via the King Harry Ferry, to Poldhu arriving at noon. After refreshing themselves in the Poldhu Hotel (today the Poldhu Nursing Home) and signing the register (using the inkwell shown), the royal party then passed through a guard of honour of the smartly dressed Marconi staff to the “Wireless Field” and inspected the generator house, transmitting and receiving rooms.

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Messages were received from the Lizard Wireless Station six miles to the south west. They read:-

“The Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company presents its respectful homage to H.R.H. the Prince of Wales and welcomes him to the Poldhu station”.

“To the Princess, Marconi W.T.C. in welcoming H.R.H. to Poldhu, presents respectful homage to H.R.H.”

Marconi gave the visitors a full explanation of how these messages were sent and received.

The party then proceeded to climb the 300 Steps to the top of the 250ft. northern tower where one Marconi employee had been stationed at each landing. At the second landing Princess Mary became tired and stopped, while the Prince carried on. The Princess said to the landing attendant “My man I am not going any further” Mr. Axelby, a Mullion man, forgot what he had been told and replied ” I wouldn’t if I were you my dear, you come and sit here and I will look after you” – and she did!

It is also reported that the Prince ascended to the top of one of the towers in a boson’s chair hauled up by ropes pulled by Marconi employees.

In the afternoon the royal party drove to the Lizard and visited the lighthouse before walking to the Housel Bay Hotel, where they took tea and signed the visitors book.

While there is no record of a visit to the Lizard Marconi Wireless station, there are strong grounds to believe that Marconi would have shown the Prince the place from where the signals he received at Poldhu earlier in the day were sent. The station is but a few minutes walk from the hotel. There exists a photograph which shows a very neat and tidy station with a distinctive picture on the wall, and one can only surmise that it was taken on that day as such photographs were only taken on very special occasions.

image0025

After a full and probably tiring day, the convoy of cars set off for the return journey. In those days motorcars had somewhat flimsy brake linings likely to become worn on the hills to and from Poldhu. On the hill down to the King Harry Ferry, Marconi’s car was close on the tail of the royal car when his brakes burned out. It was only by very skilful driving that the chauffeur prevented the car from speeding past the royal car and ending up in the water.

Saturday 18th July was a day to remember on the Lizard peninsular. The royal visit provided significant publicity for the Marconi Company and highlighted the benefits of wireless to the wider public.

The Housel Bay Hotel, the Marconi Centre at Poldhu and the Lizard Marconi Wireless Station celebrated the centenary of this visit and saw many visitors during 2003. The photographs are by kind permission of the Marconi Corporation and show the royal party arriving by car and walking along the road towards the Wireless Station. Note the masts in the background. Guglielmo Marconi is on the right wearing a straw boater.

This Newsletter has been compiled and edited by Peter Turrall MBE who would be delighted to receive inputs for the next issue. He can be contacted via this website or at his home address which is 96 Patching Hall Lane, Chelmsford, Essex, CM1 4DB, UK.

In Memoriam

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

D. Atkinson
R.H.Attridge
M.H. Austin
D. Bailes
J.R. Barber
N.J. Beane
L. Bellamy
J.A. Blatchford
D.F. Bowers
D.W. Brown
D.W.C. Burling
E. Collicott
R.J.H. Carew
H. Carter
Mrs. E.D. Cartwright-Smith
W.G. Chapman
W. Chinnery
W.J.R. Clark
S. Collicot
R.H. Deighton
A.A. Desborough-Hunt
L.G. Edwards
J. Everard
J.F. Fagg
L.L. French
G. Frudd
R.A. Gale
C.D. Gildersleeves
A.E. Green
A. Greenslade
H.W. Hayward
C. Heasman
E.J. Heathman
S.H. Hudgell
L.A. Hooper
J.A.C. Jackson
G.L. Lang
K.C. Lanham
C.F. Mole
E. Newman
D.R.H. Oddy
W.E. Parker
S.L. Pettitt
T.D. Rainbird
C.W. Rich
Mrs. E.D. Rusby
L. Seymour
Mrs. G.M. Smiles
G. Stubbs
J. Swan
S.A. White
B. Wojick
A.H. Wood
J.E. Wright

This list was up to date January 2004 and was published in the January 2004 newsletter.

Newsletter 2003

Note from Webmaser

This newsletter has been published as it was in the paper copy.  In 2003 attempts were made to produce the letters as they had been received but they did not produce good photocopies.  What is shown here has been digitally improved but I am afraid are still almost impossible to read.

Number 5
January 2003

Welcome to Newsletter number 5. We are fast approaching Christmas 2002 and this letter is being prepared ready to send out with the invitations for our annual Marconi Veterans Re-union which will take place at the Marconi Athletic & Social Club on Saturday 12th April 2003. Our incoming President is a very well known person, Stan Church who was with various Marconi Units for more years than we can remember. Stan was and still is a very energetic and popular member of the “Vets” and I am sure you will give him a warm welcome in April when for the next year he takes on the mantle of our President.

For those in the Chelmsford area watching the television on 27th October they might be wondering where our Annual Re-union would take place as the news commentary stated that the MASC building in Beehive Lane had been blown down. This of course was due to the exceptionally high winds and was sensational news. Many phone calls to the Club took place before it was established that a Groundsmans Hut with Tractor and other implements inside was the building blown down. The Clubhouse itself had only minor damage.

Rumours exist that the MASC Clubhouse has or is about to be sold and therefore we are actively looking for an alternative place for future Re-Unions just in case the news is true and we are landed with a problem.

Marconi Veterans Association

With our revised Constitution in place as agreed by the majority at our last Veterans AGM, we are now in the process of some small amendments to allow people who have worked in various Marconi Units which have been taken over by other organisations to become Marconi Veterans providing they fulfil the new criteria.  The most important of these is that they have completed 21 years service and not 25 years which was our previous requirement.  The details of this are set out below and perhaps if you know of any employee or ex-employee who fulfils the new criteria, please drop a line to Bernard Hazelton our Secretary so that we can verify the details and if possible invite the person to be one of our Veterans.

SUMMARY OF MARCONI VETERANS ASSOCIATION MEMBERSHIP REQUIREMENTS

Employed within MES Group
21 years (not necessarily continuous)
Full Membership

Employed within MES Group and transferred to a controlling company (or its subsidiaries) or any organisation under State Control
21 years (16 with MES Group + 5 years continuous with other company/organisation)
Full Membership

Employed within GEC Group (prior to 29.11.1999) with relevant company becoming a subsidiary within the MES Group prior to 29.11.1999
21 years (11 with MES Group + 10 years continuous with other company prior to 29.11.1999)
Associate Membership

Employed within MES Group and transferred to an associated organisation outside the MES Group
21 years (16 with MES Group + 5 years continuous with other organisation)
Associate Membership

NEW
Employed within GEC Group (prior to 29.11.1999) and transferred to at least a 50% MES Group owned joint venture company
21 years (11 years with JVC + 10 years continuous with GEC Group company)
Associate Membership

NEW
Employed within JVC at least 50% owned by MES Group having less than 10 years continuous service prior to 29.11.1999 or no service at all within the GEC Group)
21 years continuous with JVC
Associate Membership

Subscriptions

It is most important that all Veterans understand that from now on we cannot expect a lot of financial assistance from sources within the ex Marconi and other Chelmsford based companies. The name of Marconi as far as Chelmsford based Companies is concerned is virtually nonexistent. Whilst a number of Ex-Marconi employees are working in the companies in the Chelmsford area, the units have new names and their interests no longer include the Marconi Veterans Association. In fact we understand at New Street there are only 21 employees who work directly for Marconi plc based at Coventry.  The remainder are under the name of Marconi Mobile Limited a Finmeccanica company.

Under the circumstances we are making a special plea to existing Marconi Veterans to complete the payment form enclosed with this Newsletter by sending as soon as possible your Annual Subscriptions of £5 to our Secretary. If you can afford more, even if only a little more, it would be very much appreciated. Unless we receive this subscription we regret many of our activities including this Newsletter will have to be curtailed.

We have been warned that the offices occupied by our Secretary at Great Baddow and also the assistance he receives in the way of records, computer services etc., is under threat. If this is the case we will have to seek alternate accommodation and unfortunately cut down on the amount of services which can be offered. We will learn more about this at the Re-Union.

Museum Thanks

We asked if you would let the Editor know of any Marconi memorabilia either in your possession or elsewhere.  The response was good and many books, artefacts, letters and Company Newsletters and photographs were handed over to the Chelmsford Industrial Museum at Sandford Mill.  We have been asked through this Newsletter to thank those people who kindly made available those items.

Recently we received a telephone call from a widow of a Marconi employee advising that a number of Marconi booklets and photos had been found in the effects of her late husband. Would these be of any use to us?  Among the items were booklets of Marconi Jubilee celebrations and other useful items which were passed to the Museum.

Can we make a special plea to you to include in your will (or better still hand over Marconi items now) that upon your decease the items of Marconi interest in your possession are made available through the Veterans Association to the Chelmsford Industrial Museum.  This will ensure that forever the name of Marconi will carry on.

Marconi Name

The last two years have seen the name of Marconi removed from many of the original companies. Indeed right now we are not sure how much longer the name of Marconi will be used.  The parent Company Marconi plc are virtually in the hands of the UK banks. How much longer can they continue under severe financial restraints. The price of the Marconi shares are at rock bottom and many Marconi ex-employees have lost many thousands of pounds through the untimely poor operation of the parent company.

Marconi to be Recognised in Chelmsford

A full size bronze statue of our Founder Guglielmo Marconi is now in the London Foundry having last minute adjustments made. This will be erected in Chelmsford near to the Essex Record Office in Navigation Road early in the New Year. It is hoped that Princess Elettra and other dignitaries will also attend. We will endeavour to keep you advised of the date.

Correspondence

Come on you Veterans. I pleaded with you in my last Newsletter for you to let me have reminiscences, photos and anything to share with fellow Veterans. Unfortunately very few of you responded. I have had a lot of phone calls and letters saying please keep the Newsletter on a regular basis. Yes, we will do this but, please we need your help to fill the pages. So get out your pen, pencil or computer and write or e-mail me with a few anecdotes. It will only take you a minute. If you can supplement these with photographs so much the better. Ed.

Old Memories

We have no hesitation in including below a copy of a letter which Veteran Margaret King MBE sent to us. Margaret for many years was a Secretary in the old Marconi International Division here in Chelmsford. Her last boss was Stanley Clarke and other names in the area were John Sidebotham and Eric Royle to name but a few.

margaret_king

From Stan Church President elect of the Marconi Veterans Association

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From Bill Lee

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From Eric Peachey ex Secretary of The Marconi Company

Dear Peter,

MARCONI VETERANS ASSOCIATION
I have just finished reading the M V A Newsletter No. 4 – another excellent production.  However, for the purposes of accuracy I must correct the date of the change of name of the Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company Limited to Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Company Limited provided by Peter Helsdon. It was not the 23rd February, 1900 but the 24th March 1900.

For the benefit of all interested parties I set out below the various name changes which have taken place and their effective dates:

1. The Company was incorporated in the name Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company Limited on the 20th July 1897
2. Changed to Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Company Limited on the 24th March 1900
3. Changed to The Marconi Company Limited on the 19th August 1963
4. Changed to GEC-Marconi Limited on the 24th April 1990.
5. Changed to Marconi Electronic Systems Limited on 4th September 1998
6. Changed to BAE SYSTEMS Electronics Limited on the 23rd February 2000.

The date of the change on the 24th April 1990 I engineered to coincide with my wife’s birthday
I also attach for information a detailed record of the Share Capital of the Company from its inception to the present time and hope this will be of interest

Yours sincerely

ERIC PEACHEY

Authorised and Issued

£8,000,000 Divided into 16,000,000 Ordinary Shares of 10/- each, fully paid.

Original Capital

£100,000 in Ordinary Shares of £1 each.

Alterations to Authorised Capital

Resolutions dated
7th October 1898 to £200,000 Ordinary shares of £1 each.
31st March 1903 to £300,000 Ordinary Shares of £1 each
11th July 1905 to £500,000 Ordinary Shares of £1 each
30th April 1908 to £750, 000 divided into
….250,000 £1 Preference Shares
….500,000 £1 Ordinary Shares
25th October 1911 to £1,000,000 divided into
….250,000 £1 Preferences Shares
….750,000 £1 Ordinary Shares
3rd October 1913 to £1,500,000 divided into
….250,000 £1 Preference Shares
….1,250,000 £1 Ordinary Shares
13th November 1919 to £3,000,000 divided into
….250,000 £1 Preference Shares
….2,750,000 £1 Ordinary Shares
20th October 1922 to £4,000,000 divided into
….250,000 £1 Preference Shares
….3,750,000 £1 Ordinary Shares
15th March 1927 to £4,000,000 divided into
….250,000 £1 Preference Shares
….499,935 £1 Ordinary Shares
….6,500,130 10/- Ordinary Shares
16th December 1964 to £4,000,000 divided into
….250,000 £1 Preference Shares
….7,500,000 10/- Ordinary Shares
1st April 1965 to £4,000,000 divided into
….8,000,000 10/- Ordinary Shares
6th October 1965 to £8,000,000 divided into
….16,000,000 10/- Ordinary Shares

Capital Reduction 1927

By Special Resolution passed on the 15th March 1927 and approved by an Order of the High Court of Justice dated 11th November 1927 the Capital was reduced from £4,000,000 to £2,374,950 divided into
….250,000 7% Preference Shares of £1 each
….499,935 Ordinary Shares of £1 each
….3,250,038 Ordinary shares of £10/- each
by
1)   cancelling 10/- per share of paid up capital on 3,250,038 Ordinary Shares of £1
2)   cancelling 27 Ordinary Shares of £1 each which had been forfeited.

NB The 499,935 un-issued Ordinary Shares of £1 each were not affected.

On this reduction taking effect, the Capital was restored to £4,000,000, by the creation of 3,250,092 new Shares of 10/- each.

Allotment of Un-issued Capital July 1957

By Resolution of Directors passed on the 3rd July 1957 the 3,250,092 Shares of 10/- each were designated Ordinary Shares of 10/- ranking pari passu with the existing Ordinary Shares of 10/- each.

On 17th July 1957 the following Shares were issued to The English Electric Company Limited bringing the Issued Capital up to its Authorised Amount of £4,000,000.
….104,821 Ordinary Shares of £1 each,fully paid.
….3,250.092 Ordinary Shares of 10/- each, fully paid.

Sub-division of Capital 1964

By Ordinary Resolution passed by the Company on the 16th December 1964 each of the 499,935 Ordinary Shares of £1 each was sub-divided into two Ordinary Shares of 10/- each ranking pari passu in all respects to the existing Ordinary shares of 10/- each,

Scheme of Arrangement 1965

By Special Resolutions passed on the 2nd February 1965 and approved by an Order of the High Court of Justice dated the 15th March 1965 the capital was reduced from £4,000,000 to £3,744,717  10/- divided into.-
7,489,435 Ordinary Shares of 10/- each by
i)      cancellation of the 250,000 7% Cumulative Participating Preference Shares of £1 each and
ii)     cancellation of the Ordinary shares not held by The English Electric Company Limited and its nominees.

On this reduction taking effect on 1st April 1965, the Capital was increased to its former amount of £4,000,000 by the creation of 510,565 Ordinary Shares of 10/- each, which were allotted as fully paid to The English Electric Company Limited.

On the 6th October, 1965 the Capital was increased to £8,000,000 by the creation of 16,000,000, 10/- shares.

From J.F. Keohane

jf_keohane1From Peter Helsdon

A Comfortable Childhood
Ten years after Maxwell’s 1864 electromagnetic wave predictions; on 25 April 1874, a baby boy was born in Bologna, Italy. Guglielmo Marconi spent his first weeks at his family’s town house, the Palazzo Marescalchi, in the Piazza San Salvatore.
Guglielmo’s father, Giuseppe Marconi was a wealthy landowner. He loved the countryside and was known as a keen businessman. His mother, Signora Marconi, was formerly Annie Jameson, whose Scottish family lived in Ireland. The two had met in Bologna while Annie was a music student and married in 1864.
The baby Guglielmo had a nine year old brother Alfonso, and also an elder half-brother, Luigi, by his father’s previous marriage.
Life was comfortable for the Marconi’s. Soon after Guglielmo’s birth, they moved to their country house, the Villa Griffone at Pontecchio, near Bologna. In what became a settled early routine, they lived at the villa with its beautiful gardens in summer. In the harsh Bologna winter, the whole family would move to Florence or Leghorn, for milder weather.
This family photograph shows five-year old Guglielmo with his mother and older brother Alfonso. In the background is the family home, Villa Griffone.

griffone

From George Stebbings

george_stebbingsFrom Leonard Oakes

Thank you very much for your last Marconi Veterans letter. I notice that most of your items come from people who live and work around Chelmsford. I worked over thirty years for Marconi Instruments at Stevenage. I would like to put on record that we did some valuable work for the Company at Stevenage and St. Albans. Why not ask for memories from those great towns by the people who worked there?
I started in a small company, one of the first factories in the New Town of Stevenage which was soon purchased by Marconi. I was blind, and after a few months I was shown the layout of the New Town and its factories. I already had my name down for a Guide Dog and I was informed that it would be a good idea if I could bring my application forward.

This I did and in June I got the letter that I was waiting for asking me to go down to Exeter for training. The boss said “We will take you down there”. I was to be away for a month. It did cause a bit of a stir for a young man to be brought to the centre in a Rolls Bentley, and a crowd from the centre came out to have a look. After a month I rang to ask if they would come and fetch me, and the lovely dog called Jenny that I had trained with. Again the Rolls Bentley arrived.
A few days at home and I was ready to start work. What I did not know as I neared the factory was that there was a crowd of friends and staff waiting to welcome us both back to work.
After the first excitement I was called to the office and was told that the dog was to be put on the payroll, and she was also going to have a Clock Card. Then she will be covered if any accident occurs.
I worked as an inspector and I had a complete range of Braille equipment both in Imperial and Metric, and all was checked by the staff in one of the special rooms free from dust and humidity. Correct temperature all the time. All of these instruments were approved by Government Inspectors who came to the factory. For most of the work was for the MoD.
I retired in 1992 and towards the end of that year I received a letter from 10 Downing Street asking me if I would like to receive the B.E.M medal from the Queen. I said I would and was informed not to tell anyone. The following January I was in the New Years honours list. Soon the bell started ringing from the local press and many of my friends congratulated me.
Later that year I was invited to Bowes Lyon House in Hertfordshire to be presented with the medal along with four other people. I was told my wife and daughters could accompany me. It was a beautiful house and after drinks and then a citation was read out and the medal was pinned on me. The citation spoke of the work I had done for Guide Dogs and the instruments I had been involved with at work, measuring by sound.
Later on my wife and I got an invitation to one of the Queen’s Garden Parties at Buckingham Palace, the company took my wife and I up to the Palace and we spent a lovely afternoon there, looking around the gardens and seeing members of the Royal Family. The chauffeur met us again afterwards and brought us home. A once in a lifetime trip.
I have written this so that you will see what a great Company Marconi was to me and many others, it’s a great pity it has been on the decline recently. Nevertheless as a Radio Ham G.W.8F.O.Y. It will be remembered as long as one can send out a Radio Signal

Marconi Veterans Website

We are currently putting the final touches to the Marconi Veterans Website before it goes live early in 2003.
Subject to approval from Marconi HQ, the address will be www.marconiveterans.org so try logging on around February/March. If we are unable to use this address we will announce the correct one at the Annual Reunion and in the next newsletter.
Initially, the presentation will be rather basic, but we hope to improve the standard as time goes on and are always open to suggestions on what you would like to see there. One section will give the latest news and another will enable you to read or download the current newsletter. Another section will help you get back in touch with old colleagues via the MVA.
Write a letter to the person you are trying to contact, place it in a stamped unaddressed and unsealed envelope and send it with a few details about the person (where they worked and when, will help us to ensure that your letter is sent to the right address) to:- The Secretary (Search), The Marconi Veterans Association, at the usual address.
If we have an address for your colleague, we will address the envelope to them and post it. If we have no address, or if we have been informed of your colleague’s demise, we will address the envelope to you and return your letter. We regret that, for confidentiality reasons, we are unable to give out addresses directly and that it is not practical for us to deal with passing on messages via the telephone.
We hope that, by the Annual Reunion, the website will have been up and running for a few weeks and that some attendees will have logged on. Please let me know what you think – It is, after all for you!
Barry Powell, Marconi Veterans Committee c/o Secretary Marconi Veterans Association

From Jimmy Leadbitter

In the Queen’s Jubilee Year various TV “shots” have mentioned the Commonwealth Tour to Australia, NZ etc on the “Gothic”.
How many of our members know that the “Gothic” was fitted with Marconi equipment originally at the end of 1951 for the tour to take place early 1952 by the then Princess Elizabeth & Prince Philip. Due to the death of the King this was cancelled but the tour was then held December 1953 to April 1954.
MWT equipment installed was the 7kW Transmitter SWB 11 X with three Rx’s, one OC 13, one CR150/3 and a CR150/5. A.J.G. Corbett the Marconi Engineer sailed with the ship.
MIMC Equipment (the majority manufactured by MWT) installed additional to the existing mandatory equipment was
Worldspan Transmitter
Mercury, Electra (2) and Yeoman Rx’s
Navigational equipment Radiolocator Radar Lodestone Direction Finder Visagraph Echometer
“Oceanic” Sound reproducing equipment (SRE) was specially designed manufactured and installed to provide Broadcasts and entertainment throughout the vessel.
MIMCO Radio Officers C.H. Roberts, H.A. Palmer, D.J. Pilgrim and D.C. Clayton manned the station.
The installation provided high speed telegraphy, ship to shore R/T and speech inversion for state, naval and press traffic with broadcast facilities for the BBC. Godfrey Talbot was the BBC Commentator on board.
The above info was extracted from various articles in The ‘Marconi Mariner’.

From Tom Gutteridge

tom_gutteridgeFrom Charles Boyton

charles_boyton

Bradwell Bay Essex Airfield

Charley Rand, ex Marconi Radar and Chairman of our Veterans Association, came across an article recently depicting the Bradwell Bay airfield which during the last war was extensively used to test Radar equipment. Low flying aircraft attempted to fly under the Radar net and this gave valuable information in the design of the now famous “Chain Home” Radar defence system which covered most of the south and east coasts of England. An article and photograph found in the write up entitled “The unknown airfield – R.A.F. Bradwell Bay” are repeated below.
As the allies entered Germany in 1945 an RAF Regiment officer found on a Luftwaffe base a magnificent model of the Marconi works which had apparently been made for briefing pilots for the attack.  This is now in the entrance hall at the Chelmsford offices and Chris Vlotman, now captain of a KLM DC8 jet, flew from Alaska some years ago to be the company’s guest and speaker at a charity dinner-dance for the Trueloves school for physically handicapped boys at Ingatestone.

vlotman
Editors Note: The model is now housed with other Marconi artefacts awaiting a
decision on their final resting place.

“The History of the Radio Officer in the British Merchant Navy and on Deep-Sea Trawlers”

The above is the title of a book recently published under the name of Joanna Greenlaw. It is extremely well written and the research undertaken has been very painstaking and thorough. A foreword by His Highness The Duke of Edinburgh complements the Editor on the accuracy of the work undertaken.
The book is on sale direct from the publishers Messrs DINEFWR, Rawlings Road, Llandybie, Carmarthenshire, Wales, SA18 3YD Telephone 01269 851989 and is priced at £19.95 plus postage £3.50, however, a discount of 20% on this price has been agreed and providing the person ordering the book states that they are a Marconi Veteran, then this discount will be accepted. Cheques made payable to Dinefwr Publishers.
Although written under the name of Joanna Greenlaw, the Editor of this book is known to many Marconi Marine ex-employees as Paul Lintzgy. He was for many years Personnel Officer at Elettra House, Westway, where he dealt with the activities of Marconi Radio Officers.
The Editor now living in Wales, has a number of other books published including “The Swansea Copper Barques and Cape Horners”, “Swansea Clocks” and “Longcase Clocks” and lectures worldwide on these subjects.

Caption Competition

The response to this competition to put it mildly was pathetic. Only two answers were received. One from our incoming President Stan Church who suggested the names of the “four bald men” from left to right as George Stock, Charley Britton, George Strutt and Charley Swanborough. The caption he gave was “We wish we could bowl a maiden over’.
The other contributor was Basil Rolfe who many of you will remember worked in the New Street Stores. He also suggested the same names as Stan Church and his caption was “Marconi Selectors at work”.
The Editor is awarding a bottle of wine to each of them in view of their efforts. Perhaps next time we can have a few more responses – that is if you feel like dropping us a line. Ed.

New Caption Competition

The Editor will award one of his own books “Chelmsford a Stroll through Time” just published and covering life in the town in the late 1940’s as seen through the eyes of himself to the best Caption of the following.

caption_comp

Obituaries

Obituaries are now included in the ‘In Memoriam’ section of this site

This Newsletter has been compiled and edited by Peter Turrall MBE who would be delighted to receive inputs for the next issue. He can be contacted by e-mail peter -turrall@lineone.net or at his home address which is 96 Patching Hall Lane, Chelmsford, Essex, CM1 4DB.
Opinions and comment expressed in this Newsletter are those which have been given to the Editor. The Editor and Marconi Veterans Association are unable to enter into detailed correspondence or accept views of other people in connection with any article or comment written herein.

In Memoriam

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

D J Biglin
G A Bullen
C G Cornell
R W Drane
G E Firmin
A K Grimwood
J Mahoney
A G Millen
Rev. J A Mills
E J Moffatt
L Peagram
J Perry

This list was up to date January 2003 and was published in the January 2003 newsletter.

Newsletter 2002

Number 4
December 2001

Welcome to Newsletter number four. This is being compiled in the month of October. By the time it is finished, the Marconi share price at 18p is likely to be down to 15p and the Company ripe and ready for a takeover. What has gone wrong? You might well ask since one year ago the price of each share was 212.40. How is it possible for a Company which boasted many firsts over the years and had thousands of loyal employees could go down so quickly. Management and organisation skills appear to have vanished and now the once famous Company has been brought down to the lowest level in its history after over 100 years of existence.
A sad sad story and very worrying for those still employed under the name of Marconi plc. Let us hope that the future for them will be OK. However nobody can erase the name of Marconi and its past achievements. Companies may come and go but the name lives on and it is the intention of Marconi Veterans to continue as long as is possible.

In Memoriam

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

W E Ashdown
L J T Bellamy
J Bennett
H E Butt
J M Ginn
Dr. G Grisdale
K G Hodge
F J Martin
J R Pigram
F J Swain
A F Ward
P L Williams

This list was up to date December 2001 and was published in the December 2001 newsletter.