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.


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.

AGM – 2013

The Annual General Meeting of the Marconi Veterans Association was held on Saturday 20th April 2013 at the Marconi Athletic & Social Club following the reunion and luncheon.


1  Minutes

To approve the minutes of the Annual General Meeting held on 14th April 2012.

The minutes were passed unanimously by a show of hands.

2.  Accounts

To receive the audited accounts for the year ended 31 December 2012.

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. Election of Honorary Veteran

In acknowledgement of his efforts in maintaining the collection of Marconi equipment and memorabilia at Sandford Mill, it is proposed to elect Dr. Geoff Bowles as an honorary Veteran.

Passed unanimously by a show of hands.

6.  Any other business

a)  Address by veteran Professor Roy Simon and veteran Alan Hartley-Smith

Roy and Alan will be detailing the progress being made with the BAE Heritage organisation and their aims for the future.

As Roy Simons was not able to attend the reunion the address was given solely by Alan Hartley Smith.  Please follow THIS LINK to hear or read Alan’s address.

b)  Request from the Essex Records Office

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

A short presentation on this subject was given by veteran Ken Earney to update veterans who may not have seen the website and using material that has already been published.  This can be read on THIS LINK

7.  Next Meeting

The next reunion and AGM will be on Saturday 5th  April 2014 at the Marconi Social Club.  This will be the 78th  reunion.

Peter Turrall’s response

As you will have realised from earlier posts and from Peter’s absence in the photograph of the committee and Honoured Guest, he was not able to attend the reunion.  However, he was able to record his response and this can be heard by CLICKING HERE.

Sadly, this is of poor recording quality and a transcription of his speech can be read below.

Robbie, vice-chairman, Eric, honoured guest, Jonathan, fellow veterans.

I was greatly honoured to receive the position as Chairman of the association and I would like to thank all of those people who elected me to the post.  I am very sorry I can’t be with you this afternoon due to circumstances beyond my control.

In the past it has been my job as Chairman to ask the new President to take up his position and also to brief him on various aspects of the Presidency.  This year I haven’t had to do that and one of the things I have always advised the President is to limit his time.  Well, I’m in that position now where I’ve probably got to limit my time concerning my speech this afternoon.

But I want to break it up into one or two parts and the first part concerns the history of our Company.  You all know that the history of our Company is very important and is documented in a number of books written by other people, the most important one being that written by Bill Baker who was charged by the Company to write the history from the beginning up until 1950.  Later on you will hear from one of our veterans about how we can consolidate our history.  But I want to get a point concerning what Sir Robert Telford told me when he asked me to clear his office out.  He had charged Jim Aikman to get in touch with all the mangers in the various divisions in the Company to ensure that senior staff wrote down the story of their operation, designs of the equipment and various stories concerning the installation.  While some of these were done, and when I cleared Sir Robert’s office, it took me as you can imagine several days, because of the amount of books that he had kept I found some of the requirements requested by Sir Robert and I have handed these over to the community.

So I want to appeal to all of you to continue the history of the Company, it is necessary for you to put pencil to paper or on tape and submit it to, probably our secretary, Barry so he can pass it on to the speaker you’ll hear about later on.  This is very important and even if you only have a small history of our Company please put it down on paper so that in the future other people will know what happened to this wonderful Company of ours.  I had the pleasure of working for the Company for nearly 48 years and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it, although I must admit that there were times when I didn’t get on too well with a certain managing director.

Coming to my second point concerns Marconi House in Chelmsford.  As you all know I’ve tried very hard to ensure our good relations with the owners of this building; it is now in the hands of Bellway Homes and although I have an understanding and discussions with them it is far too early for them to make any comment as to what will happen with regard to Marconi’s in the new building insofar as the history of the Company being recorded or a room available for us to put some of our artefacts.  I had invited one of the directors of Bellway Homes to come and talk to us at our AGM but unfortunately that did not happen.  I will keep in touch as far as possible with the new owners and if it is ever with him we will have some of our equipment held at the museum, the Industrial Museum, at Sandford Mill.

It is very difficult to persuade Chelmsford Borough Council to recognise the work that Marconi and his staff did in the town of Chelmsford.  On many occasions I have visited the small city council and discussed with them the movement of the statue and also to recognise in greater detail that which not only Marconi’s but the other big industrialists in the town brought the revenue into Chelmsford in many many ways and, in particular, the shopkeepers who also gained from the presence on Marconi personnel.  I will keep on trying but in the long run I am afraid it is up to other people to ensure that the city council does come up with some recognition of Marconi.

Now to my last point.  As I said earlier, I have enjoyed being with the Company for 48 years and I served under nine managing directors.  I got on with them extremely well with the exception of one who as you probably know took a great dislike to me in fact fired me three times in one day.  However, I was able to wear the badge as everybody else in the factory did “I survived Glasgow”.

Now, as I said, I travelled with the Company, overseas visits for something like 12 years until I became Publicity Manager.  So I will just recall just one or two points in that career of mine.  The first I suppose is when I attended an exhibition at the IBC in the Intercontinental Hotel in London; the senior staff had disappeared for lunch and I was left with one other person to look after the stand which had cameras, everything, vision mixers and other things on it.  A gentleman came along with a lady and was quite interested in the equipment, I showed him round and he was genuinely interested in the cameras and at the end of the visit I said to him “Can I have your card please because I’d like to follow this meeting up”.  He turned round and said to me “Well you didn’t recognise me but my name is Weinstock”.  I’m glad I treated him with great respect because when the senior staff came back from their lunch and I told them who’d been on the stand they were most concerned.  But all was well, It was Sir Arnold Weinstock in those days not Lord Weinstock.

Well, that was one story.  The other story was, of course, probably my biggest order ever and that was when I went to Egypt eight times in twelve weeks and came back with a most fantastic order from Egypt Broadcasting television outside broadcast vehicles, cameras, television transmitters, telecines, vision mixers etc. an absolutely fantastic order.  And I came back to England with that and there were great celebrations and when I went into the factory and told the factory manager what had happened great cheers went up.  This was probably one of the highlights of my particular career.

Well, unfortunately I can’t be with you this afternoon and to circumstances beyond my control but can I wish you all veterans a very good year and I hope you’ll do something to record the history of our Company.

Thank you.

Peter Turrall – our President for 2013

Peter was introduced by our Patron Veteran Robbie Robertson whose address to those assembled is reproduced below.


Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen, fellow veterans.  It’s good to be with you all again, and quite a change for me to be in a large gathering and know I’m not the oldest!  Today, it would have been my special privilege and great pleasure to introduce your President for 2013, Peter Turrall, M.B.E. but unfortunately he is not able to be with us today.

I’m sure there is a precise time limit for my few words, no doubt set by the Chairman (Peter Turrall) –  but I’m going to take what it needs to introduce this unique character – even though everybody knows him anyway.  It is in my view particularly appropriate that the first President to be inaugurated in these splendid surroundings should be Peter; our thanks to the MASC for the use of this fine new building.

Peter joined Marconi in 1951, eight years before me, but I’ve only known him for around 45 years.  In those far off days, when I was in Communications Division, on the second floor of Marconi House, the hallowed ground of the fourth floor belonged largely to Broadcasting Division, and I remember us humble Communications Division guys could only visit the top floor with permission, to seek knowledge and wisdom on the mysteries of broadcasting.  Peter was the source for me of all information on TV studios, and I quickly lost count of the number of times he pulled me out of the holes I’d dug for myself, in the early days of my involvement in broadcasting.  As the years progressed, it often seemed that Peter was always rescuing me from someone or something.  I particularly recall him saving me several times during a visit to what I think was then called South West TV in Plymouth.  Among many things we did together, one of the most memorable for me of Peters’ many achievements was the MCSL Agents Conference, in about 1986.  Representatives from around 40 countries attended; thanks to Peter’s splendid organisation, none of the expected disasters occurred, or at least only nearly!

Today I should really be talking about Peter’s incredible contribution to the well-being of the Marconi Veterans Association – all you lot.  I’m not good on dates these days, but I reckon Peter has been an active member – and I do mean active – of your committee for around 25 years, most of which either as vice-chairman, or for the last several years, as your Chairman.  This means he has probably spent close to 500 hours in committee meetings, and countless further hours implementing decisions made at the meetings.

Peter has campaigned tirelessly for all things Marconi; Chelmsford owes him a debt of gratitude for his efforts in the public arena, on a mass of activities far too numerous to list.

I could go on; about Peter’s major contributions to Mencap in Essex; his involvement in the life of Chelmsford Cathedral, and his current efforts regarding the New Street site redevelopment, etc., etc., but I think I would have probably embarrassed him enough!

We are all honoured, and grateful, that Peter has agreed to be our president for 2013.  We thank him for this, and we wish him all that is good in his presidential year.

Fellow Veterans, please rise and raise your glasses for a toast to your President for 2013, Peter Turrall M.B.E.


Reunion 2013


The Marconi Veterans reunion was held on 20th April in the new Marconi Clubhouse.

Our guest of honour was Mr Jonathan Douglas-Hughes OBE DL a senior partner of Gepp & Sons, Solicitors in Chelmsford.

Our President this year is our Chairman Veteran Peter Turrall MBE.

Reunion 2013 – an invitation from our Secretary


February 2013

Dear Fellow Veteran

First, let me wish all Veterans a healthy and prosperous 2013.

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 20th April 2013. This will be the 77th Reunion and the venue will be the New Marconi Social Club, Beehive Lane, Chelmsford, where there is ample parking for those who travel by road.  The new venue will, naturally, involve some minor changes to the running of the Reunion.  The Bar is now 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 located in the hall and you will have plenty of time to enjoy them (and 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.  There may be additional changes, but these 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.  I will also have additional coasters, for sale, plus some coasters from previous years as well as a number of  Ties, Scarves and Badges. I will also have a limited number of the New Street Photo CDs but I can make more if we run out.

Our President for 2013 is Peter Turrall, Chairman of the Association’s Management Committee and a well known champion of everything “Marconi”.

Joining the Reunion as our Honoured Guest is Mr. Jonathan Douglas-Hughes OBE, DL. Senior Partner of Gepp and Sons, Solicitors, Chelmsford and Under Sheriff of the County of Essex.

The menu for this year’s luncheon will be as follows: –
Brussels Pate with Melba Toast
Steak & Mushroom Pie
Lemon Torte
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.

We are pleased to announce that both the Subscription and luncheon prices will be held at last year’s levels of £6.00 and £22.00 respectively.

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.  As usual, we invite donations but I must stress that if only a modest donation can be managed, or even none at all, please do not let this prevent you from attending the Reunion, as all donations will be treated in the strictest confidence.  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 & biscuits are included in our menu and additional bottles of wine can be purchased from the bar.

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.  In addition, this year, we are experimenting with the issue of self adhesive name tags for you to wear at the Reunion.  When you order your ticket, please indicate, in the box provided, how you would like your 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.

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.

Your Committee is prepared to receive any nominations, propositions or suggestions for submission to the AGM, providing they reach me in writing by 31st March 2013.

We are pleased to announce that we now have over 40 ‘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 2013 subscription for Friends is £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-Seventh 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.

I look forward to seeing you at the Reunion.

With kindest regards

I am yours sincerely

Veteran Barry Powell

For those Friends who wish, the subscription application form may be downloaded in PDF format ready for printing by clicking here Reunion 2013 Ticket and Subs

We regret that we are, as yet, unable to accept electronic payments.