Poking about at home the other day, I found this EF91 valve, complete with MWT box. When I started work as a junior engineer in the wooden huts at Writtle in 1952, these valves, together with a smaller version, the EF95, were the staple tool of the trade. We used them for everything, from VHF to audio. They had 6/3 volt heaters, B7G bases, and often were provided with an aluminium screening can.
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Starting with this issue, I will supply Chris with the full length article and all its accompanying images. I hope that those of you not web-enabled wishing to see the ‘unexpurgated’ version may find a relative, neighbour or your local library, who can help you to do so.
The CD player saw off the brief threat of the in-car MiniDisc player, but it was powerless to prevent the rise of the MP3 player. At first, it wasn’t easy to connect an MP3 player to the car, but once a solution was found, there was no stopping the MP3.
We have an S600 antenna and the engineering cabin which is virtually complete. We have an empty cabin which could be converted to a control cabin but, currently, the door is at the side and would need to be moved to the end. We also have many bits and pieces of the internals of a control cabin, including consoles. These were from Bushey and kindly donated to us. I am an ex-Fighter Controller and was very much involved in ‘82 in getting the S600 down to the Falklands and set up (see below), initially, on Canopus Hill.
Before television, the most common way to be entertained in the home was through the radio. Many vintage and antique radio models made between 1930 and 1949 are highly collectible, including brands such as RCA, Philco, Westinghouse, and Zenith. These tube radio table models came in a range of sizes and variations.
Classic Boat March 2021
As well as plans for conserving the fabric of the building, Bawdsey Radar will be working to develop ways, physical and virtual, in which more people can visit the site and understand the importance of the radar heritage that the Transmitter Block represents. New displays within the Transmitter Block will tell the story of radar and its significance in WW2. Radar helped win the war by playing a vital part in the Battle of Britain in 1940 and it is estimated the technology helped shorten the war by two years. An important part of the project will be providing opportunities for learning about radar’s fascinating social and scientific history, and about how the early work at Bawdsey laid the foundation for our current age of electronics leading to inventions such as GPS, accurate weather forecasting, speed safety cameras and even the microwave oven!
Finally, a post-script from Dave Lowry: if any of your members would like to form a small group to visit the museum please let me know. I could easily make arrangements.
I know there is an extremely slim chance but I was wondering if you had any information about an employee, Mamoon Osman, in the Chelmsford factory. He would definitely have been working there in engineering in 1959, having come over from Sudan to train at the factory, and would have been about 25 at the time. I understand of corse you may not have any information about him, but if not and could pass on this email to anyone else who also came over from Sudan around that time, or anyone that may have worked with him then, that would be very much appreciated. It would even be good if there were any contemporary company photos taken that he may be in.
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There were many high points during the broadcast including being interviewed on BBC 5 Live and BBC Essex. However, the main highlight was at 7 pm on Tuesday 14th February, exactly 95 years on from when 2MT started transmissions. At this time we all raised a glass and drank a toast to 2MT and all involved, to radio hams past, present and future, and to Captain Peter Eckersley. We were joined in the hut by amateur radio and museum friends and colleagues, and we are sure the spirits from the past were looking on!
My name is Aodhan Murphy and I am writing to inquire about getting information about a veteran of Marconi, My father, Daniel Murphy of Cork, worked as a radio ofﬁcer throughout the 19405 to 1960s before spending a spell working for Harrisons. He never kept a diary and, while he did speak about his time at sea, our knowledge of his career is quite limited. I’m just wondering if records are available of veterans time spent, which ships and lengths spent on board along with ports visited, are available. I have some of his log books but they don’t tell a complete story and what I would like to do is draw up a picture of his career. Please let me know what information I need to supply you with, date of birth etc, in order to avail of this information if possible.
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We ask all Marconi Veterans to let us have regularly items of interest to other veterans, in particular activities, families and of course births and deaths – anything which might be of interest to others. Please dig deep and send our incoming newsletter editor Mark Watson-Lee these snippets. He will accept any item at any time throughout the year.
A newly formed UK company had just designed an aircraft with a novel configuration. They had multi-million-pound financial backing and announced an intention to satisfy a variety of operational roles. One of these would be powerline surveillance. At Basildon, we had a new generation of thermal imager whose capabilities would be well suited, so I got in contact and arranged to visit. As it happened, their operational understanding of powerline flying was a bit thin; I gently ‘educated’ them, the best I could, whilst pointing out the relevant details of our thermal imager capabilities for their application.
Marconi Radar History – public access
He described a somewhat itinerant working life, with the IDO moving around various temporary locations at New Street before finally settling in a room on the first floor of the canteen. Work over many years involved making visits to customers overseas to liaise with their engineers and architects where buildings were to house Marconi equipment. He concluded by remembering a number of well-known names with whom he had the privilege of working over his 50 years, from B N McClarty and Douggie Smee through David Speake, Bill Barbone, Derek Griess to Tom Mayer, present at the reunion that day.
An early task was working on the French Vautour aircraft fitting the AD2300 Doppler airborne navigation sensor. He was closely involved with this system taking part in compatibility trials in a Viking aircraft in 1960. Later, based in France, he oversaw the fitting of that system with its computer to the Mirage as part of the French “Force de Frappe” nuclear strike force of the early 60’s.
Dear Veterans Association, my grandfather’s brother was Christopher Charles Casperd, although he changed his surname to Caspard at some point. He is mentioned as one of Marconi’s senior installation engineers in the book ‘A History of the Marconi Company’ by W J Baker. This book uses the surname Caspard. I wondered if you might have any further information on him (and ideally a photograph) in your archives. I look forward to hearing from you.
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Bert seems to be getting on well out at Muskegon, I received a nice letter from him on Saturday. My eldest brother is at the station west of us now, we do not communicate because he is in the American C/o & this is the Canadian Co, his little girl, (Alma), had to go under an operation a short time ago, but he tells me she is almost herself again now. Next spring, I guess, I will be shifted again, don’t know for certain where they will put me this time.
The high humidity meant that during the time in Nigeria the housing had wardrobes down to floor level, where inside was a row of light bulbs continuously lit to keep the hanging clothing from disintegrating from moisture. Open a drawer and a small Gecko (little lizard) might jump out; those living behind the hanging wall pictures darted out to catch resting insects and so were tolerated, but the big 15inch long orange/black lizards were too much to allow inside the house.
Prices dropped as the technology evolved and the in-car radio enjoyed a boom time in the years following the Second World War. This was the ‘golden age’ of radio, with motorists free to enjoy transmissions at home and in the car.
A year later, Becker launched the first premium in-car radio. Called the Mexico, the head unit featured AM and FM bands and a fully automatic station-search function. The tide was turning: FM was shifting up a gear.
Vintage Tube Record Player In Collectible Tube Radios
The 1950s was also a decade of innovation and experimentation. The idea of playing vinyl records in the car might seem preposterous today, but back then it was pretty much the only means of listening to your own music on the move. The in-car record player was the MP3 or streaming service of its day.
Marconi Football Club in the 60s
My late father Ken was a lifelong member of MCSL. He died at the age of 94 in Broomfield Hospital on 25 January 2021.
In my time with the company the name has changed numerous times; the current name is now ‘Leonardo’. I have now retired from working life in order to devote more time to leisure.
In the noughties he has mostly been dabbling with dance/techno/electro pop and he has chosen to stay in this territory here but with a nod back to more soulful days. Apparently there's another due soon, don't expect it to be the same as this though.
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Dummy shot of DW putting an AD560 unit into a Boeing 707. In reality the unit was accessed from the freight bay on the starboard side under the galley.
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Chrysler offered the in-car record player as an option from 1956, but the technology was short-lived. It was too expensive, there was a limited choice, and the systems were far from reliable. Other problems included the need for the driver to switch records on the move and where to store the vinyl.
Then later: she died peacefully on July 12, aged 97. There is a suspicion that she might have been frustrated not to make 100 – which would be Pam all over. Apparently she was living in the Chelmsford area (Ingatestone) until she eventually moved into a retirement home, Mary Feilding Guild, in North London, where she became friends with the literary editor Diana Athill. Immediately after ‘News and Views’ folded I recovered from her desk in Eastwood House some material and archive photographs intended for the next, ill-fated, edition, which she had abandoned. I rang her to let her know what I had done, but got my ear bent for dragging her in from her sunbathing. Pam decreed ‘no funeral’ but there was a wake in September, so I promised to forward the various bits we have in terms of tributes, history snippets and her piece on her VE day experiences for folk to share.
I recently built a conservatory, and we wanted an old radio in it, I got one at auction, it sort of worked, and I came to the conclusion after several weeks of messing the W77 had lost emission, and in my search for one I arrived here. I have now replaced it and the radio works pretty well. You never forget how to fix them.
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If you know of an ex-Marconi employee who does not receive the newsletter please urge them to contact me as soon as possible. It may be that they have moved or not replied to a confirmation request of a few years ago or that they left with 21 to 24 years service and have now become Veterans by virtue of the reduction in service requirement to 21 years. The ‘Friends of The Marconi Veterans’ Association’ has been set up to cater for anyone who does not qualify as a Veteran but wishes to be kept informed of things Marconi. Numbers are growing slowly with, currently, approaching 70 members and any more would be welcome. The three registers (the Main register, In Memoriam and Friends) are now published on the website so please have a look if you can and let me know of any errors.
From a Welsh background, although born in Reading and raised in West London, he was educated at Latymer Upper School and Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. His immediate forebears were miners; none had previously attended university or finished school. Paternal grandfather, James ‘Pop’ Griffiths, ran away to sea at the age of 14 and became a ship’s captain and later Mayor of Cardiff. He was deeply proud of family ties to Wales, and nautical family history inspired his own love of the sea and sailing; he loved the shining dunes of Ynyslas and Aberdyfi. In his spare time, he skippered several boats of his own, and in last two decades he sailed from Tollesbury Marina close to his Essex home.
On a more sombre note, It concerns me that over the last couple of issues the number of obituaries and tributes included to those who have died is rising. I suppose this is inevitable with the advancing age of our membership, but how many reminders of mortality are you happy to see? Let the editor know if you’d prefer a change of emphasis. Another concern is that the content seems to be predominantly from male contributors who have been engineers, often in more senior positions with a distinguished career behind them. It would be good to see more items from the shop floor and the admin departments.
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Music was always a key part of his life although his parents were not musical at all. As a lad the young Ken joined the church at Wickham Bishops and after having some piano lessons tried his hand at the organ. Ulting Parish Church subsequently required an organist and he took that position, then a while later in 1944 he took on the organ duties in Wickham Bishops where he remained providing music for nearly 57 years as organist.
If you have any questions, please give me a ring. Again, we would like to thank Benefit, the San Francisco-based cosmetics company, and Hampton Sports and Leisure (The Marconi Club as was) for their hospitality and also Leonardo (the new name for Selex-es) who have kindly supported us for a number of years now.
Knowing which brands manufactured radios during this period. Westinghouse, RCA, Philco, Watterson Radio, and Zenith all manufactured this type of radio in the 1930s and 1940s.
It was a stunning, unique experience. I started playing with electronics at the age of 10 using valves, and whilst there got unlisted play with transistors then 74 series ICs. We were building Disco lighting such as ring counter and sound to lights YEARS before the big boys such as Pulsar Light of Cambridge was.
He’s obviously not ex-Marconi, but please forgive me for including his interesting reminiscences
To leave comments readers will need to be subscribed to PB Works and the History website. I would like to thank Alan Hartley-Smith for his heroic efforts on Saddleworth Moor which made this possible. I dedicate this work to my former boss Brian Kendon who is laid to rest today.
Poo-pooed by 'proper' musicians as chaps like Kruder & Dorfmeister are in fact re-workers and re-imaginers of pre-existing material which they have seamlessly woven into something altogether wonderful here. Not perhaps as high profile a mix album as the Coldcut Journeys By DJ masterpiece The K&D Sessions is nonetheless an essential album stitching their remixed versions of tracks by the likes of Roni Size, Lamb, David Holmes, Bomb the Bass, and Depeche Mode into a blissful, chilled, down-tempo mix. Sadly the recently released vinyl version of this is proving hard to track down so why not check out the download version.
This was treated as news in the Essex Chronicle in March 1969. All we seem to get today in the papers is bad news. Technology has also moved on apace. Does anyone remember this order or even had worked on it?
Besides the model number of the receivers there are letter designations. These letter designations are the letters which appear after the serial number of the receiver and they help designate the type chassis.
In the late 80’s Denys was based in Kuala Lumpur with his wife Mary. There he represented both Basildon and Rochester interests.
The aims of the evening were many. First a great evening for the volunteers and Chelmsford amateur radio club to celebrate a true piece of Chelmsford history. The project also successfully celebrated the UK’s first regular broadcast station and raised awareness of current technology and amateur radio. We are happy to have been able to expand on the 2MT story and bring this to a new audience, paying tribute to all those involved.
The return to New Street was celebrated by working on the Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) system, a trunked mobile radio system conforming to an open standard published by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI). The work involved not only designing facilities conforming to the standard but also attending meeting with other manufacturers in order to extend and enhance existing facilities in the standard.
In 1922 from ‘a long low hut full of long low people’ a small group of young Marconi engineers entertained radio amateurs and listeners across the UK and beyond with regular radio broadcasts every Tuesday evening. The broadcasts originated from Writtle, and the enthusiastic team led by Captain Peter Eckersley assembled their transmitter together with a gramophone player, microphone, and on occasions a piano from the local public house, to entertain listeners. Whilst transmissions lasted for just a year, their impact was immense. Many of those involved moved on to make major contributions to the works of Marconi and the BBC.
Jump forward 50 years and Norman now processes invoices and sets airtime rates for all marine airtime customers electronically and with a touch of a button – although technology does of course bring its own issues when nothing happens when you press that button. All invoices used to go out by Royal Mail and the office was covered with piles of paper ready to be put into envelopes, now these are sent electronically via email!
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The 78th annual Veterans Reunion took place on the 5th April 2021. Our President at the reunion and for the past year has been Mike Thornton. The Guest of Honour was Ray Hagger, formerly with Shell Mex and BP, subsequently a specialised training organisation and also a Pensions Liaison representative.
He always supported his staff, objecting strenuously if some other manager tried to criticise them, “he might be an idiot but if he is I will tell him, not you”. He also tried to be around whenever an urgent job required working excessive hours. Even in his latter more senior roles these were much more than token visits. I remember, when I was involved in getting the Type 88/89 (Green Ginger for the RAF) out, I turned up at Widford during a weekend to be asked by one of the testers who that bloke up on the aerial in a good suit arguing with a fitter was. It was ER arguing over the design of the gear box with the top off and oil all over the place.
The workshop manager at Heathrow was Jo Grundy, who lived near Croydon. My paternal great-grandmother was a Grundy I have recently discovered. The other resident engineer was Phil Flowerday. He left and went to work with Cossor Electronics I think in the late 1960s.
Little progress thus far in getting a volunteer team started in assisting ERO with the job of inspecting and cataloguing the former New Street photographic department’s collection of prints and negatives. The necessary precursor to this is to locate the results of a cataloguing exercise by Baddow photographic following the closure of New Street photographic department.
Colwyn Bay Wireless College was a lively place after the war with the return of several ex-servicemen who had learnt skills unknown in my earlier days. Jumping out of a first floor dormitory window for a night on the town was no problem for a parachutist who would re-enter silently some hours later. Nor was the lock on the pantry door when he felt peckish after our rationed dinners had failed to meet army standards.
I’ve had one or two unwished for problems in getting this issue off the ground. The main one was that I didn’t have a recording of the speeches at the 2021 reunion to refer to when compiling the report on page 10: unwisely, relying on there being one, I hadn’t made any notes. Up to the time of writing this they were missing from the website, but the full texts can now be found there. Given a fair wind the speeches will be recorded this year, but just in case, there will be a back-up plan.
Volume three on a two CD set featuring three original albums by Southern country/rocker Charlie Daniels including Saddle Tramp (1976), Honey In The Rock (1973) and Me And The Boys (1985), the latter two getting their first ever CD release here. Of the three Saddle Tramp has aged the best (although the cover is a stinker), a Grateful Dead style jam album mixing up bluegrass, blues, hillbilly, and even jazz, but both Honey In The Rock and Me And The Boys have their moments including early classic 'Uneasy Rider' and later US hit 'Drinkin' My Baby Goodbye' a real VFM set in fact.
Initial concerns that only three tracks get makeovers here (Mogwai, Clark and Digitonal tackle 'Path 5', Jürgen Müller and Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith 'Dream 3' and Marconi Union 'Dream 13') prove unfounded as each remixer takes entirely different liberties with the source material and the shorter edits of the originals are a neat reference point. The only complaint would be the totally redundant shorter 'edits' of each remix which just get in the way as you find yourself skipping past them, but minor niggles aside this reimagining of tracks from Richter's truncated From Sleep version of his eight hour magnum opus are a delight.
Would any of your members have any knowledge of this device, was it ever built, where did the model come from? Any information you may be able to obtain will be much appreciated.
Whilst there is no possibility of an ex-Marconi (https://karinka-selo.ru/hack/?patch=8761) site being used for a Marconi (helpful resources) Museum, there will be celebrations coming up covering various anniversaries – the opening of the BBC in 1920 when all Marconi equipment and engineering staff formed the British Broadcasting Company, later to be called the British Broadcasting Corporation. These anniversaries will wherever possible be supported by The Marconi Veterans Association and through the local and National Press people will be informed.
Certain items in this issue, particularly on this and the next page, are responses to letters or articles appearing in the 2021 edition which have already been posted during the last eleven months on the website. There is thus an inevitable but necessary duplication catering for those Veterans who have no possibility, or wish, to use the internet.
The suggestion is for new signs to portray Hylands House, a good mile out of the city, which does not give any indication of Chelmsford’s major industrial past. It was Marconi and other major industries such as Hoffmann, Crompton, Clarkson and Christy who put Chelmsford on the map, fostering its development from a sleepy market town with a population of 30,000 citizens in the early 1900s, to a major industrial centre. This gave employment to thousands and a start to other enterprises to set up shops and offices to cater for the needs of an increasing population which has now reached nearly 200,000.
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He retired in 1995 but continued his interest in all technical subjects – once an engineer, always an engineer! Ray was a regular at the IEE lectures in Chelmsford, with the essential pint of Adnams afterwards! He was an ‘ever present’ at the annual Marconi Veterans luncheons too.
My old office, once used by Marconi himself, is a reception area and on the wall various wireless sets are arranged. The whole organisation from MD down were delighted to see the Princess and are eager to learn more about the work of the Marconi Company.
Apart from welcoming you to our 2021 reunion, I hope you will support Colin and also Ken Earney, newsletter editor, with news and views which he can incorporate in our yearly newsletter. Please send these to Ken at any time throughout the year. Meanwhile I wish all veterans the very best for 2021.
Most of you will be aware that, at the Reunion in April, I stepped down as secretary. This position has been ably filled by Veteran Colin Fletcher who, I am certain, will do an excellent job.
John says that he has written to the Bodleian but has not yet had a reply to his letter, and so would obviously still like to hear from any Veteran who may be able to help in his enquiries. He mentioned in passing a photograph of his father which appeared in the book entitled ‘Marconi 1939 – 1945 – a war record’, published by Chatto & Windus in 1946.
The history of in-car entertainment
Those of you who view the website regularly will have noticed that the page layout has changed. This was forced upon us because the old theme, which we had been using for at least 5 years, was no longer supported and would not work with the latest version of WordPress.
Not surprisingly all the major elements of the new GEC complex had seen this as a field in which they should take a share. In the public eye this seemed to be entirely concerned with stand-alone machines used for business purposes.
Note: Above are only sets having names. All others have model numbers only. When the same chassis is used in different cabinets the model number is never changed but a letter is added as cabinet designation-200A, 200B, etc.
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On the brighter side and looking to the future, 2021 is the centenary of the first public wireless broadcast by Dame Nellie Melba (she of ‘Melba Toast’ and ‘Peach Melba’ fame), while 2021 is the centenary of the British Broadcasting Company, which was founded on 18 October 1922 and began broadcasting in November of the same year. Marconi played a large part in these events and it is hoped that along with the Chelmsford Civic Council, the Marconi Veterans’ Association will play an active part.
I remember so well, mother and father discussing Marconi who had just come to live here
Dr Percy Spencer-Phillips’ family originally came from Danbury, although he was brought up in London. He came to Great Baddow in 1911 to join Dr Lister, and subsequently married the boss’s daughter and took over the practice.
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The concentration of activity during most of 2021 was on the potential acquisition of the original Hall Street factory. Having discovered that a planning application had been made to convert it into flats considerable effort was made to mount an appeal to prevent this, but unfortunately this proved unsuccessful as at the planning meeting held in December 2021 the application was approved.
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With regard to the name tags, last year’s arrangements seemed to work quite well so we will, again, produce the name tags on A4 sheets which will be at the merchandise table so you can collect your label as you enter the hall. 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.
In 1920 the company’s Wireless Station known as 2LO, based in London with all equipment manufactured in Chelmsford, was taken over by the British Government to form the United Kingdom’s first broadcast organisation known as British Broadcasting Company and later renamed British Broadcasting Corporation. Not only all the Marconi equipment but also the Marconi staff of Station 2LO came under the direction of the new organisation affectionately known as the BBC.
There is no record of Edmund in the Commonwealth War Graves archives so it is probable that he died just after the war ended. Edmund was born on 29 January 1901 at The Manor, Little Longstone in the parish of Bakewell in Derbyshire. His father’s name was Herbert Tinsley Taylor of independent means, his mother’s maiden name Broomfield. Edmund joined Pocklington School on 18 January 1913, from Bridlington Grammar when his parents were living at Shean House, Filey. He joined Malton School on 19th September 1916 and left one month after his 16 birthday on 23 February 1917 to train as a wireless telegrapher.
Entire set weighed about 17 pounds. Made a variable tone spark transmitter as pack set with key in front (see the OTB, March 1980, pg. 29).
I was carrying out some research into the life of my beloved Grandfather, Captain Henry Joseph Round MC, and came across your website. I was delighted to see that the work of Marconi, with whom my Grandfather worked very closely, was being kept very much alive. I thought you might like to know that hanging on a wall in my house is a marvellous photo labelled ‘Marconi Third Annual Reunion Dinner’ at the Holborn Restaurant on November 14th 1930. The photo features about fifty people with a line of 13 standing, including Marconi, my Grandfather and his great friend CS Franklin. Maybe you have a copy of this photo among your records but I felt compelled to make contact with you. I am so pleased that your organisation appears to be thriving.
We took it easy in 2021 as my wife was still not 100%. Then at the end of the year, we decided to upgrade our caravan to a newer, larger and better appointed one – so that’s the bulk of our holidays sorted for the next 15 years or so. It’s still at Cromer, luckily clear of the areas that were severely damaged in December last year.
I won’t bore you by repeating last year’s description of the arrangements for the reunion – suffice to say that, if you are still unsure or have any questions, please give me a ring. I am always happy to talk and can give you names of those Veterans who attended recent reunions.
He has subsequently created a number of wikis, Marconi in Avionics
Following up on this (the most interesting part of the job), Ian Gillis has created a page devoted to George Millington in the Radar History wiki. There, Roy Simons mentions him giving the Appleton lecture in 1970, the Faraday Medal award, and the fact that he lectured at Mid-Essex Tec’ in the ‘60s. I have a vague memory of the latter.
When I left grammar school I spent four years on a thin sandwich course at the City University. My sponsoring company was Standard Telephone and Cables (STC) at New Southgate. During the four years, when I was at the factory, I spent time in some of the following areas – the drawing office, the sheet metal shop and the printed board assembly area. Towards the end of the four years, I spent time in some of the development laboratories.
Dad also mentioned briefly that he was involved in recording Morse code messages during the war and I only realised recently that this activity was not to be spoken of. He was able to build his only radio equipment and he also built a TV for the home in the late 40s. We left 12 St Vincent Road, Chelmsford in 1953 to settle in Adelaide South Australia. He was always keen that his children and grandchildren learn morse code and made a very professional key for them to practice on. He also became a amateur radio enthusiast when he was 70 after passing the appropriate exams to gain his operating certificate.
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In 1972, he became Chief Engineer with responsibility for all the division’s communications and navigation equipment developments. At this time, the division was producing airborne equipment for the military and civil markets, HF and VHF radios, landing aids, Doppler based navigation systems, TACAN navigation systems as well as ground proximity warning systems. He was responsible for all the technical aspects of the division’s work, which involved liaising with the customers and suppliers, earning their high respect.
In addition Bawdsey Radar is fortunate to have been offered a grant of £196,320 by Historic England to help with the repair of this building at risk, as described by John Etté Principal Adviser, Heritage at Risk. East of England “Grade II Bawdsey Transmitter Block played a vital part in the development of radar technology during the Second World War, which also had a huge impact on post-war electronics and defence systems. Our grant will help conserve and restore this very important building by removing it from Historic England’s ‘at risk’ register.
He was a great engineer and a major contributor to the successful years of Marconi Radar
Throughout the story I have challenged the established history and time lines, visited every site, interviewed local historians, combed through local archives and of course recorded what still remains. I have also attempted, as an old-time wireless engineer, to re-interpret each experiment and try to understand what happened there. Hence the book contains an extensive ‘Then and Now’ appendix along with an extensive glossary and appendices that keep the technical sections out of the main text.
Peter Brian Chapman who left a legacy of £500 in his will. This generous gift is most welcome.
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This year, we have returned to the standard menu offered by the caterers, opting for some of your favourites. Our selection for this year is: Brussels Pate with Melba Toast and a Caramelised Onion Chutney, Chicken Wellington stuffed with Sage and Onion, Pear and Blackberry Crumble with a Pistachio topping, cheese and biscuits, tea or coffee. The ticket price for the reunion will be £33 for Friends whilst Veterans will continue to pay the subsidised price – this year £28. We are pleased to maintain the subscription rate at £6 (£3 for Friends).
However the central part which computers and digital electronics would play in all GEC Marconi’s traditional fields was less acknowledged. Radar, Avionics, Battlefield and Naval Command and Control systems were all becoming increasingly dependent on computers of one sort or another – and in each of these fields GEC found itself with multiple activities in dispersed locations and again, each quite sure that they had the ‘right’ approach. David’s direction was again called for in resolving many of these situations.
Now comprised entirely of Magill siblings (Joel, Josh and Liam) - the solitary interloper being Kate Bush's nephew Raven - Syd Arthur are currently well over a decade into their career and on this, their fourth album, also moving ever so slightly away from their psychedelic jazz/prog Canterbury roots. Not that there aren't plenty of tricksy time signatures on offer but this time out the EDM and pop touches are more up front (rather than just the occasional flourishes), and the production more crisp and radio friendly. But fear not SA fans of old this is still clever, thoughtfully constructed music, just now with knobs on.
On the way back, in France, John Crispin stopped the bus and bought many cases of wine to take home and these were packed into the big boot at the front of the aircraft. It must have exceeded our duty free allowance many times over but John with his impressive scarlet lined cloak managed to convince the Customs men that the cargo was legitimate and we later shared ‘the spoils’.
Taking its title (we think) from the Drummer Hodge poem by Thomas Hardy about the death of a young soldier in the Boer War, Toby 'Banco De Gaia' Marks first compilation album on his own Disco Gecko label (something he has been meaning to do for a very long time now) is, perhaps unsurprisingly, pretty sombre stuff. It is also, in the main, a rather lovely collection of ambient music steeped in the finest trippy 'chill out' tradition of the '90s. AstroPilot, 100th Monkey and Marks himself are amongst the acts on offer and, given the many different approaches and styles, the results are a pretty seamless delight.
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Later he joined MIMCo‘s Newcastle depot and worked for many years as a technician out of the South Shields base, which is I where I met him in I966 when I came ashore. He supervised my initial period of probation and did a fantastic job, as far as I was concerned. He was an excellent, methodical technician, working steadily and logically to track faults and carry out repairs. He was not necessarily the fastest but was always successful and never needed the 2 or 3 visits required by others.
Firstly, many thanks for another splendid newsletter which arrived today. I hope you have now recovered from your Christmas bug.
See Bucher pg. 244 for diagrams. See letter written in 1962 for historical info on the E-2.
Mrs Dolly Spencer-Phillips was born Dorothy Lister, the daughter of a well-to-do doctor who lived at Noakes Place, a posh house in Baddow Road. Hence she was one of the landed gentry. The following short extract covers her recollection of G Marconi. Earlier pages describe the family’s way of life, looking after the poor of the village, dinner parties with the upper set of Baddow society.
In 1951 he was called up for National Service, but was called back to Writtle to continue developing the revolutionary, all thermionic valve Blue Silk and Green Satin navigation equipments. Life at Writtle was never dull, and it often involved flight trials in various aircraft. On one infamous occasion, the helicopter being used clipped power lines over a reservoir near Yeovil, but managed to limp home: parts of Somerset however were left without electricity!
Given Shaun Ryders own assertion that he is not a musician and the messy demise of the Happy Mondays very few people expected Black Grape to be anything but a spectacular car crash and yet at least half of their debut album was genuinely terrific marrying Ryders lunatic rhymes with new sidekick ex Ruthless Rap Assassin Kermit. Now with an accompanying CD of entertainingly shambolic live tracks, remixes (some crackers, like Goldie's hi-octane clatter through 'Fat Neck' and the bonkers Outlaw Josey Wales break-beat take on 'Yeah Yeah Brother') this deluxe edition is positively heaving with jollies.
This debut album from the Manchester duo Alive In Theory is a potent, reflective collection of self-penned tracks. From the eponymous opening track with touches of Kate Bush to the understated but room filling ''The Other Side', this downbeat album is packed with quality. Marianne Faithful and Grace Jones come to mind on the rockier themed 'Unconditional' where the acoustic 'Jump First' is a perfect showcase for Kirsty Macs vocal. Low key songs dominate but 'Little Sister', a Heart influenced power ballad and the impetus on 'Bethany' deserve mention. Multi-instrumentalist Paul Ayre completes the duo and is the perfect foil for Mac.
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He worked as a turner at Baddow Research from about 1939, then as an inspector, before moving to New Street, and then St Mary’s House as an estimator. His final job was at the Writtle Road works from where he retired. On his retirement day, Jim Prior made his presentation on the mezzanine floor. Photographs were in the company magazine/newspaper at the time.
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One of the things I always find difficult is to provide a brief summary of the speeches given at the previous reunion, almost a year after the event. My wife says, why on earth do you bother, it’s old news, and they can find it all on your website. But I do it mainly to give a flavour of what was said for the benefit of those veterans who are not able or have no interest in looking at proceedings on our website. If you think it really serves no purpose, please let me know and we’ll consider dropping it next year.
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Another band whose influence stretched beyond their brief existence, Rockpile (Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe, Billy Bremner and Terry Williams) only held it together for a few short years and only actually released one album (Seconds Of Pleasure) under the Rockpile moniker - although their work can also be heard on both Lowe and Edmunds solo projects. So this live set from January 1980 recorded for the legendary live German Rockpalast television show is a particularly welcome addition including both Edmunds and Lowe originals alongside Mickey Jupp, Elvis Costello and Chuck Berry covers.
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Several bands could lay claim to breaking the all boys rock club (were plumping for the aptly named Fanny from the early 70s), but the bubblegum rock of the Runaways aside the real first ladies of heavy rock have to be Girlschool (and any band who get the thumbs up from Lemmy have to be taken seriously). So this VFM collection of all their output for Bronze Records will be manna from heaven for rock fans the whole shebang collected together in a box which comes with four individual albums in wallets depicting original LP artwork plus bonus tracks and a booklet with detailed liner notes on the bands career with Bronze Records.
He worked for the Company for many years. At one time I believe he was an installation engineer in northern Norway and learnt the local language. Before he moved to Radar he ran a Division in Frimley which included the DN181 Blindfire Radar for the Rapier missile which was so successfully used in the Falklands.
Over the last nine months considerable work by the owners Bellway Homes has taken place on the Marconi (you can look here) Communication Systems site at New Street Chelmsford. All of the factory building has been completely demolished as well as Building 720 (the one with the wavy roof) and also the four storey building of Marconi House.
I pop in to see John sometimes, the shop is open Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, although it long stopped being a shop, it’s really a drop in centre for old radio hams and TV engineers to have a natter. He sits in there holding court, and a long stream of old friends call by. (It still appeared to be a shop in July 2021, but not open on a Monday when I visited.
The team did not try to recreate station 2MT as we now live in a very different age. The aim of the evening was to recreate and celebrate the spirit and adventure of 2MT, to be ‘born in laughter and nurtured in laughter’. From Sunday 12th February to Tuesday 14th February 2021 we celebrated 2MT with an internet radio service including various live programmes from the original 2MT ‘Long Low Hut’. Whilst in the hut, we were joined by members of the Chelmsford Amateur Radio Society who were operating a special event amateur radio station using the call sign ‘GB95 2MT’. We were able to therefore, for the first time in 95 years actually broadcast and transmit from this historic building.
The DVD contains the TV special Long Distance Romancer (originally transmitted in 94 and thought to be long lost). Some old lags may well complain at the omission of certain tracks but if you love the Feelgoods, Rockpile and the Kilburns then you will certainly love this.
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He opened by thanking the association for choosing him as its President for the year. He joined the company in 1939 in the Installation Design Division at Great Baddow after a brief spell working at Crompton Parkinsons. Shortly after he moved, with the IDD, to New Street, attended evening classes at METC studying for ONC and HNC in mechanical engineering whilst, mentored by senior draughtsmen, learning installation techniques. Studies interrupted by a break of five years until 1946 for war service as a pilot in the RAF on Catalinas, Wellingtons and Dakotas he then returned to work in the IDO, and resumed studies to gain ONC and HNC, further progressing through the IDO to retire as chief of the department in 1989. The IDO serviced all main MCSL divisions, and one aspect, outside broadcast television vehicles, was to become a forte.
In a professional career distinguished by an outstanding ability recognised at a young age, David Griffiths gave invaluable service both to Marconi and to successive UK governments. Promoted to Commercial Manager at the age of 24, in 40 years career he served as Commercial Director and Company Secretary at Marconi and, latterly, BAE Systems. He was a protégée of the late Max Stothard ( 2021 newsletter, pages 1 & 11). His professional career spanned the Cold War, the collapse of Communism in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the digital revolution with its new implications for national defence and the precarious alignments of the War on Terror. After retirement from industry, he acted in an advisory capacity to the MOD, and sat on the MVA committee. He was committed to his work and greatly fulfilled by it.
During WW1 348 Marconi staff sacrificed their lives. Presumably their names are all recorded appropriately, and steps will be taken to ensure that their memorial is safeguarded. Does anyone know where the memorial is currently located?
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This enquiry from Stewart Waring was sent to the secretary Barry Powell in April 2021. I intended to include it in the 2021 newsletter, but completely through oversight on my part it didn’t appear. Profuse apologies to Stewart on realising my mistake and a promise to include it in the 2021 edition. I posted the enquiry on the MOGS forum and received a number of responses which confirmed it was extremely unlikely to be radar.
One of the things that I hadn’t really appreciated until this visit was the immense size of the heart of the station’s transmitter, the condenser house (see centre of photo above). A 1/8 microfarad capacitor, charged to in the region of 20,000 volts, comprising 1820 metal plates, each measuring 9m by 3/7m and spaced from each other with an air gap of 30cm, all housed within a building 105m by 22/5m – as long as a football pitch and a third of its width.
Having met a German tour manager who discovered that Wilson Pickett was not nicknamed 'Wicked for nothing (obnoxious being about the best thing he had to say about the soul legend), its perhaps not surprising that his career has been something of a rollercoaster ride, but regardless of his volatile personal life Wilson Pickett could sing. Boy could he sing, having numerous US R&B hits including 'In The Midnight Hour and 'Mustang Sally' (both here) and this show, recorded in 1973 at Nakano's Sun Plazza, captures the man at the top of his game including a spirited romp through Frees Fire And Water and Creedences Proud Mary.
This will be a volunteer-led initiative, open every Friday and Saturday from 11th March to 29th May from 11am to 3pm, other days and times by appointment, and is being curated by Tim Wander. There is to be a private view on Friday 18th March for City and County Councillors and invited guests where Tim Wander will give a talk.
For the motorist, it was a dream come true. Whether they were listening to a ‘Musicassette’ of the latest album, or a home recording of the Top 40, the cassette player was, at the time, the perfect mobile music device.
Following school he spent a brief period at Lloyds Bank before entering the Metropolitan Police, in 1954 joining Special Branch at Scotland Yard, mainly involved then with anti cold-war activities, principally counter-espionage, protection of VIPs and dignitaries. After a period firmly established in this area he was transferred to Downing Street to take a lead role in the protection of the prime minister, at that time Harold Wilson, a role rapidly expanding in importance and authority.
I’m writing because in 2021 we purchased the M/V Elettra III (o/n 694607; BRIT304285) from a private owner here in Seattle. We have begun to retro-fit and plan to relaunch her as our region’s first science and marine technology laboratory and research vessel for kids. We have made great progress and I thought you might be interested in our exciting new plan for this historic vessel built to Lloyd’s class for the Marconi Company.
Birketts attracted some seriously clever blokes as well. There was a guy called Joe Rose, a slow scan TV fanatic, he actually owned an entire BBC Outside Broadcast Unit complete with 4 cameras and a 2 inch tape unit and mixing desk. There was another guy who worked at the Medical Physics Dept at the hospital, he would come up with circuits for us to build and test, a seriously clever bloke. During the Winter of Discontent he invented an Inverter using two OC25 power transistors that would drive a 6 foot fluorescent tube off a car battery. We built a few and they sold like hot cakes, couldn’t make them fast enough, and we sold them as kits as well!
Apparently James Callaghan had no sense of humour and there were no really interesting stories to retell of that period, but everything changed with Margaret Thatcher. Like her or loathe her, she was an impressive performer, and in his view, unlike Callaghan, did have a sense of humour, although perhaps not a great one.
The first three staff to lose their lives in WW1 did so on 22 September 1914. They were each wireless operators aboard HMSs Cressy, Hogue, and Aboukir, three battle-class cruisers, which were patrolling in the outer Thames Estuary when they were sunk by torpedoes in quick succession by a single U-boat, U-9, with the loss of almost 1500 lives.
Reflections on David’s professional life remind me of that of my father, who also lived into his 90s after a long research career and was to me a beacon of wisdom. David often reminded me of him when I was in difficult situations. Speaking at a Memorial Service so long after the professionally active time inevitably stretches the memory.
In all but name a Mountain album (Felix Pappalardi, fresh from working with Cream, is on bass), this was in fact West's 1969 debut album, and a pretty damn good effort it was to, West signature chunky guitar style and Joe Cocker meets Janis Joplin drawl emerge fully formed. High points include the rollicking 'Dreams Of Milk And Honey' (which get's resurrected on Flowers Of Evil as part of the 'Dream Sequence' jam), a proto 'Mississippi Queen', 'Blood Of The Sun' and a genuinely terrific romp through Dylan's 'This Wheels On Fire'.
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Curiously (with reference to the 25 year requirement for Veterans) from my research so far, I have found LW listed as a Canadian Federal government employee in ‘Sessional Papers for the First Session of the Twelfth Parliament of the Dominion of Canada’, 1911-1912 (on-line). He worked for Wireless Stations/Building & Maintenance’, as ‘engineer, salary, 3 m to March 31st at $125’. I’ve also found him mentioned in similar but full-time employment in 1925 and 1926, I hope to consult further such records in our National Archives in Ottawa later this month.
The easiest way to identify a specific radio model to know if it is antique is the model number and serial number. These will be printed somewhere on the radio and can help you determined the year that it was manufactured.
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So I started at Basildon in the Design Quality Assurance group in the Airadio laboratory in A Building. I remember Bert Holmes was one of the senior team members in this group. One of the first pieces of equipment that I worked on was the AD130. This was used in the Maritime Nimrod aircraft, and I was involved in the environmental tests on this and carrying out the reliability predictions for it. (These reliability predictions used a computer at the Research Laboratories at Great Baddow. The information was sent from Basildon via a teleprinter link. This took me back in remembering my time at STC on the error correction equipment).
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Not the only ZZ Top best of out there (see also 2004s Rancho Texicano), However this double disc set there is also a single disc version - is certainly the best stab at a career spanning overview currently available bringing together, as it does, material from all three of their previous labels. Most will be cognisant with the slew of MTV friendly material lifted from their world straddling eighth album Eliminator but equally worthy of a listen are the innuendo laden harder edged blues rockers from their early days (like 'Tush', 'La Grange' and 'Cheap Sunglasses') so if you dont own any ZZ Top then this is definitely the place to start.
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Paul and Joseph Galvin owned an electronics firm specialising in battery eliminators for radios. The pair met William Lear (of Learjet fame) and Elmer Wavering who were showcasing a car radio in Chicago.
One of these areas was in developing radio altimeters. STC had its own Dakota (DC3) which was used to test the equipment and we flew from Stansted where the plane was based, sitting the equipment on one of the rear seats. On my first flight we flew out over the North Sea at about 1000 feet, just below some cumulus clouds. The heating was on and the tail of the aircraft was bobbing up and down in the disturbed air below the clouds: virtually all of us engineers on board had to visit the ‘little room’ at the rear of the aircraft, to relieve the discomfort in our stomachs!
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It was not only Arnold Weinstock who introduced a ‘brutal’ financial regime. Industry as a whole was being controlled far more by the accountants and by Stock Exchange reputations. The old hierarchical structures of privilege for the bosses were on the way out. Perhaps the most extreme example of this to which AW put a stop, was the case where a company’s Managing Director kept his dog under his desk in the office and under the table in the board’s private dining room (I hasten to add that this was not in a Marconi company,).
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Born and raised in South Shields, Ron Wilson left his safe position as an apprentice in Swan Hunter’s shipyard to volunteer as a radio operator and was employed by International Marine Radio (IMR) during WW2. There he had a very exciting and incident-ﬁlled time; the story of some of his exploits was posted on the SN site (shipsnoslalgia.com) last year and was also published, in serial form, in the house magazine of the Radio Ofﬁcers Association. After the war he was retained by IMR as a technician and covered the North-East coast ports, installing repairing ships’ radio equipment.
I was contacted years ago by a wireless collector who found Dad’s name inside some equipment. Even today a Google search will locate some patents that Dad was responsible for. I do have some papers from the estate which deal with the patents. It was always a mystery how Dad acquired the skills in the radio field without any formal training or university degrees – clearly it was self taught and brought about by a passion for the field. We believe he would have taken a shine to computers if he had lived 20 years longer, but of course this may have interfered with his hobby of amateur radio which occupied him in his retirement.
Younger readers may think Jim who? But the rest of you will doubtless recall that the Lea was the bass/violin/good looking one in Slade, but as is so often the case the separate constituent parts of Slade didn't ever amount to the whole package and Lea only managed two solo albums since Slade's demise, this was the second from 2007. That said he did record some songs that really deserved a larger audience ('Deadrock UK' could've graced any classic Mott album and 'Go Out In Style' is only a Noddy vocal short of prime time Slade). A second live CD addition makes this a good time to check this out.
Chelmsford City Council has failed to recognise the asset this city has. The statue of Guglielmo Marconi, erected a few years ago and sponsored by a number of organisations including the City Council, is hidden behind the bus station – an insult to this great man.
On the 4 June 2021, Norman Day (David Day), celebrated 50 years of employment within the Marine Division. It’s not many Veterans who manage (or survive) 50 years in continuous employment. Norman must be made of strong material, 50 years is an amazing achievement: these days it is mostly unheard of for individuals to continuously work for 50 years let alone stay with the same company, within the same department!
His last work for the Research Centre was a curiosity – the study of special aerials to be fitted to the AWACS airborne radar aircraft: a one-fifteenth scale model of the aircraft was required to test in the anechoic chamber at the Research Centre. He built this model in the garage of his home in Wickham Bishops with the help of workshop superintendent Mel Willis, (Ted’s hobby skills must have been invaluable, the construction of a number of stringed instruments, violin, lute, and, hurdy-gurdy, see above.
But by then, the cassette player was facing a fight for survival. Pioneer introduced the world’s first in-car CD player in 1984 (although Sony might dispute this), with Mercedes-Benz becoming the first manufacturer to list it as an option in 1985.
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GM’s Delco Radio division produced its millionth car radio in 1940, and by 1946 it is thought that around nine million motorists had a receiver installed in their car. The technology was no longer the preserve of the wealthy.
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The Marconi Veterans’ annual reunion on 2lst April 2021 at the old Marconi Club site in Beehive Lane Chelmsford will see the introduction of a well-known ex-Marconi stalwart as president of our association -Martyn Clarke- who has been with the Marconi Company since he joined as an apprentice many years ago. We welcome Martyn and his nominated guest of honour Dr Paul Marshall, also an ex Marconi engineer, together with Paul’s wife Jill. Martyn is known for his engineering capabilities whilst with Marconi Communication Systems where he travelled to many places throughout the world demonstrating the Broadcasting Division’s studio equipment including cameras, mixers and outside broadcast vehicles. Martyn can relate some very interesting stories of his visits and the events and problems faced ensuring the Marconi equipment operated to the best of its ability. Many times he met important people including royalty in demonstrating Marconi products. No doubt we will hear some of his stories at the reunion.
Any vintage or antique radio must be handled with special care. If a tube or other component breaks, it may not be easy to replace.
Eric Bird did not survive the attack. He was believed to have been a Marconi employee. His relative is trying to discover which radio school Eric attended before sitting his exams. If there is any record of him in the Marconi files, would it be likely to contain this information? It is not known if he attended Colwyn Bay Wireless College as all the records have been lost. I was a Marconi Marine Radio Officer in 1944.
A few years before retiring he was encouraged to sit the Radio Amateur examination and this enabled him to keep in contact with many of his former colleagues who were already hams. This hobby was ultimately to provide a social lifeline in his later years and kept his mind alert and focused.
My name is Hollie Newton, and my grandad Peter Robinson worked for Marconi during the war
I even impressed myself, just without thinking, banging out those names from the depths. I was there from 11th January 54 to 24th June 55. I don’t remember Jim by name but I do remember very well that one member of his hut was a sailing enthusiast. Time was spent by them in making a cannon to fire at the start, or maybe end, of races. Many experimental models were made trying to get a loud bang. Not to be left out my fellow apprentice, Mike Oldfield and I joined in the project and made experimental devices. One I made fired short pieces of Stubbs stainless steel lengths across the river in Writtle, to hit a sheet of aluminium on the other side.
Would you be able, please, to tell me anything about Mr Triggs, his position at the Marconi company perhaps
This particular platform had some very onerous specifications to meet. Notwithstanding the conventional environmental requirements it had to house an interchangeable payload which was the size of an old fashioned dustbin! This payload (developed by AEL) was to house various missile seeker heads to evaluate their accuracy under flight conditions. Such missile heads were from the Sidewinder and Maverick missiles and at times in various combinations. The impact on our platform design was to achieve very exacting stabilisation parameters and also to get 500 plus power and signal wiring across all three fully rotational axes to the payload sensors.
This is a marvellous snapshot of nine of the world’s greatest inventors: Archimedes, Gutenberg, Franklin, Nobel, Bell, Marconi, the Wright brothers and Edison. Where would modern mass communication and transport be without such pioneers as Gutenberg, whose engraving tool, cutting into steel, could produce letters no more than a 10th of a millimetre thick, which could actually achieve a higher resolution than letters printed today with a laser printer? That’s the sort of information I, and most kids I’m sure, lap up. David Angus judges perfectly when to switch from the highly technical to the anecdotal. One minute you’re scratching your head at exactly how Archimedes, with a piece of string and two sticks, worked out that the area of a circle is always the same as the area of a triangle when one of the triangle’s sides is equivalent in length to the circle’s radius and another to its circumference. And then, mercifully, we’re transported to 18th-century Pennsylvania, where Benjamin Franklin is flying a kite in a thunderstorm to see if the lightning will travel down the string to the metal key he is holding. He won’t get a shock: he is holding the key with a silk ribbon that he is desperately trying to keep dry. A fascinating and, with luck, inspiring audio.
The ticket price for the reunion will be £33 for Friends whilst Veterans will continue to pay the subsidised price – this year £28. We are pleased to maintain the subscription rate at £6 (£3 for Friends).
David Griffiths was hugely committed to his work and until fairly recently he was engaged in meetings and travel across Europe, the Americas, Australasia and the Far East. He once said that because of his career, he had been to every country he had ever wanted to visit, except possibly Iceland, and he thought he could accept that deficit. He greatly enjoyed meeting a wide array of people in so many countries, forging many and lasting friendships in Marconi’s local offices at Chelmsford, Leicester and Frimley, as well with international partner companies in Rome, Montreal and Helsinki. He was enormously forgiving of others, getting the best from his colleagues by example and leadership. When ill-health forced him into a more sedentary lifestyle, he used on-line technologies to continue working as long as he could. He also embarked on substantial projects of amateur history, with a particular interest in the Second World War.
Most influenza outbreaks disproportionately kill juvenile, elderly, or already weakened patients; in contrast, the 1918 pandemic predominantly killed previously healthy young adults. The majority of deaths were from bacterial pneumonia, a common secondary infection associated with influenza, but the virus also killed people directly, by causing massive haemorrhages and oedema in the lung. The incubation period for the disease is some 2 to 5 days and death can follow in hours or a few days from the first symptoms appearing.
As all deaths of those veterans notified to the secretary have been reported throughout the year on this site they will not be repeated here. They are included in the paper edition of this newsletter for the benefit of those veterans who do not use a computer.
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This all took place more than 30 years ago and David’s retirement was on the horizon, but the government was recognising that the spread of R&D effort in the country – industry, universities and government laboratories – was inevitably counterproductive in competition with the USA and Japan, and should, if possible, be pulled together. A major collaborative venture, the Alvey Project, was formed with substantial funding from government matched by industrial contributions. Having assisted in the management of the project as the monitor on several projects, towards the end of the project in 1986, David became a member of the Steering Committee enabling him to bring to bear his experience of GEC overlaps and difficulties forming collaborations with particular reference to a possible follow-on project. He became the right hand man of Sir Austin Bide, then Chairman of Glaxo, the man charged with formulating proposals. Sadly a change of government meant that the spotlight had moved in other political directions, and that follow-on did not materialise.
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At the time his father, still of independent means, was living at 58, Florence Terrace, New Biggin, Malton. The July 1918 school magazine records that Eric Fuller and Edmund Taylor have passed their 1st Class Wireless Examination and were home for a brief rest.
If this is of interest at all to you, I’d love to talk more. If you ever happen to be in this area we’d love to show you around and might have some original equipment coming off the boat that could be of interest too.
Peter Turrall, Chairman Marconi Veterans Association
Not a name particularly well known outside Dream Theatre or Black Country Communion fans Derek Sherinian is nonetheless a much in demand studio and live keyboard whizz who has played with everyone from Alice Cooper to Al Di Meola and Allan Holdsworth and thats just the As. Now all five of his solo albums (from 2001 to 2009) have been re-released with new liner notes by Sherinian featuring a gobsmacking line up of players - especially guitarists - and frankly you cant go far wrong with any of em but were plumping for this which runs the gamut from gorgeous Latin grooves to walloping great prog-metal workouts.
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There is a number of modifications inside the building. The Directors’ Luncheon Club has been completely renovated and the partition at the rear where small dining rooms were situated, together with the kitchen area, has been removed. The rear area has been blocked off and a small entrance door adjacent to the old surgery has been installed. The area where the old organisation for travel arrangements and part of the photographic department is now one very large room.
Mike Southall is sitting on the left-hand side of the table, and is the 4th person along from the left (ignoring R Rodwell). Sitting next to him is a lady who was a draughtswoman in the DO (sorry, I’ve forgotten her name). Next to her I believe is Les Saunders. Bill Garvey is in the front of the picture next to our secretary Carole. The surname of the person seated to her left was I believe Chowdri. He was attached to Established Designs for a short while. I recognise many of the other faces but their names have left me.
The picture to be transmitted was wound round a drum, driven at 60 rpm by a motor, and a photocell mounted on a scanner head and driven the length of the drum by a lead screw. Reception was achieved by using the same system in reverse to expose a photographic film.
I had long wondered whether Freddie was still in the company. Then unexpectedly, and many years later, in 2021 or 5, I met him while helping to man the Marconi Heritage Group table outside the library as part of that year’s Chelmsford Festival. I will never forget the discussion that took place with him and his daughter, such are precious beyond measure! His grandson Thomas Hunter no doubt could add much here: suffice it to say that I learned that Freddie had even emigrated and worked for a time in Australia!
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Pearson primarily recruited me for my UNIX knowledge. However they began to phase out their UNIX systems and go over to Microsoft NT servers instead. So I was trained in networking skills based on Cisco routers and switches. In addition I also helped administer the Checkpoint firewall and the telephone system for the building. This period with them complemented my engineering knowledge gained with the Marconi companies, giving me a quite extensive knowledge of PCs and particularly networking. This proves invaluable in sorting out my broadband problems and those of my family and friends!
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Fortunately you dont need to understand what is going on to love the resultant noise which lurches and clatters delightfully. Those hoping for a follow up to the dancefloor themed Hardcourage may be disappointed but sod that, this is a brave u-turn that delights and confusticates in equal parts.
On one occasion, I was at a meeting at Writtle Road about software requirements for the Swedish TOR project and the tea and biscuits had just been delivered. The door opened and to our great surprise Eric Gildersleve walked in and sat down – not his sort of meeting at all. He had his tea etc and stayed another hour or so till the end of the meeting, but did not say anything at all.
Despite wanting most bands to evolve and move on this reformation of what many believe to be the fiercest Santana line-up definitely called for nods to the past and by heck does it deliver, neatly recalling pretty much every highlight from their first three albums (including on the cover design). A couple of tracks are too long perhaps - 'Fillmore East' spends the best part of eight minutes looking for a groove without any luck - but too much new material is a minor gripe as, in the main, this really is far better than it has any right to be and fans of the classic Santana line-up will certainly be genuinely delighted.
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Other problems included the constant need for re-tuning, the interference from ignitions and spark plugs, and the fact that the sound was emitted through the head unit and not an external speaker. In the days before speakers, the engine really did kill the radio star.
Eric Walker joined Marconi’s in September 1950 as a Graduate Apprentice. His apprenticeship involved time at sheet metal, the drawing office school, commercial offices and finally a five month course at the Marconi (read full article) College in Chelmsford.
There are also events later in the year commemorating the First World War being organised, including a showing of the film of the Battle of the Somme in 1916 with a live orchestra accompaniment. Another occasion of note this year is that of the 80th anniversary of the decision in 1936 to build the Research Laboratories at the Great Baddow site. Plans are being made to celebrate this event.
Ray’s office door was always open, and he was in his element solving technical problems alongside his engineers. He would find time to visit sick engineers. Not a very keen sportsman, he nevertheless did participate in some group-organised events.
Between 2000 & 2003 I compiled Great Baddow Oral History based on oral interviews of residents of Great Baddow, people later providing additional snippets of information. The following transcript of an interview with the wife of the local doctor is from an audiocassette provided by Diana Fawcus, (née Spencer-Phillips) grand-daughter of the interviewees. It was probably dictated around 1970 (since reference is made to Baddow bypass, built in the late ‘60s) to an unknown lady interviewer, possibly from a local newspaper or Essex Record Office.
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The electro-optical divisions were by this time contracted to supply thermal imaging systems to UK and US defence services, the total Basildon business was almost totally defence-oriented and the sale to BAE was probably a wise move. As we now know, that business was then sold by BAE to Finmeccanica whose affiliate UK company Selex ES employs over 4000 people in the UK and whose headquarters in the UK are based at Basildon. They fully acknowledge their success is related to their Marconi history.
We had suitable materials – including a set of video replay equipment showing airborne thermal video images from a power line operation and I immediately confirmed our enthusiasm to assist. Anyway, we were going to be exhibiting at Paris, as part of the Avionics group, so it would be easy to provide deeper support, should they need it.
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On the subject of coasters, if you have any coasters from previous years and would like to swap them for coasters also from previous years, provided they are in good condition, then bring them along to the annual reunion. This is subject to availability and is limited to previous years and not coasters from the current reunion.
The clunky jewel case might not be the prettiest presentation box ever but given the unavailability of much of the material this collection is terrific value for money collecting the first six albums, plus unreleased BBC Session tracks, into one neat remastered package which will certainly delight long term fans. If you arent familiar with the name Brand X were a proggy jazz fusion band featuring the, not inconsiderable, chops of Phil Collins, John Goodsall, Robin Lumley, Morris Pert plus genius bass virtuoso Percy Jones and lordy could they play! File alongside Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return To Forever, Tony Williams Lifetime and Weather Report.
We assume that this period was spent at a Marconi Radio College
It’s not necessary to look too hard to spot the difficulties that this editor has had in shoehorning in many awkward lengths of article, so this piece is just a space-filler. January and half of February 2021 will I sincerely hope become a hazy memory. These thoughts are just a quick awkward gap filler before I wrap it up and send for printing, painfully close to the deadline.
The items in the photo belonged to Sydney Eric Jones, who served in the Merchant Navy all his life chiefly as a Radio Officer, and including both World Wars. When he died in 1987 he left a number of items from his days at sea, which were clearly important reminders and mementos for him, to his nieces who have kindly donated them to the association and they will be passed to Tim Wander for custodianship at the Sandford Mill Museum.
Bawdsey Radar has been awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £1/4m as part of a £1/8m project to conserve the Transmitter Block building on Bawdsey Manor Estate in Suffolk. The Transmitter Block was built in 1938 and was a key building at RAF Bawdsey, the world’s first operational radar station. The major site construction work will start in September 2021 and an exciting new exhibition will open in September 2021 allowing all visitors to explore and find out about this pioneering radar site.
SS Kalomo (see photo) was completed in 1907 by Robert Duncan & Co, Port Glasgow, for the Bucknall Steamship Lines Ltd, London. She was re-registered in 1914 to Ellerman & Bucknall (Steamships) Co Ltd, London when a controlling interest in the Bucknall shipping line was sold to John Ellerman. She was broken up on 8 November 1931 by TW Ward Ltd at Inverkeithing after being renamed City of Halifax in 1926.
With the new year comes a new venue for our committee meetings. Parking at our usual venue of Eastwood House has become extremely difficult of late, so we were pleased to be offered a new venue. The new tenants of the 1912 building on New Street are Benefit Cosmetics, a San Francisco based cosmetics company, who have kindly offered to host our committee meetings. At this point we would like to thank BAe for kindly hosting our meeting for the past 8 years and also the Marconi Club for their offer to accommodate us. We are all looking forward to coming home. Whilst on the subject, we must not forget to record our thanks to Selex ES who have kindly supported us for a number of years now.
We report the death of those Veterans notified to the secretary from the copy date of the last newsletter to the 31st January 2021. We extend our sympathy to the families of those mentioned.
The water tower running alongside Marconi Road is in the process of being converted. It is understood a local organisation hopes to produce community broadcasts from the building. The water reservoirs have been filled in and a new multi storey block of flats will soon be erected in the area once known as Building 720 with is wavy roof. The whole site has either one/two bedroomed flats or major three/four bedroom houses. Quite unrecognisable from its original 1912 complex.
The products were widely installed on many aircraft, both at home and overseas. They were among the first systems in the world to use transistors in the aircraft environment, and formed the basis of a radio guidance system for the world’s first blind landing installations on the Trident and VC10 aircraft of BEA and BOAC. An exciting period with the development of new aircraft and the introduction of jet engines, and the challenges for aircraft radio installations that these entailed. New concepts brought their own problems to be solved. Many test flights were undertaken during this period by both development and product support engineers to ensure that optimum performance was achieved. Exciting yes, but hitting an 11,000 volt overhead cable at 40 feet with the rotor blade of a Westland helicopter whilst testing a Doppler system can be just a little too exciting!
Also to support the exhibition Tim Wander is producing a new book about Hall Street from its first use until the move to New Street. Copies will be available for sale.
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Without the funds required for a stand, Galvin parked the Studebaker outside the convention hall and pumped up the volume. Orders flooded in, and Motorola (Motorised and Victrola) was born.
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Can anyone tell me what prestigious award George Millington received in 1978? He was Chief of the Propagation and Mathematical Group in Chelmsford, which work involved investigating high frequency radio waves. George received the Faraday Medal in 1974.
As for Tim Wander’s search for a Myriad computer, I recall that three of them were used by Air Traffic Control, West Drayton, as part of the Flight Plan Processing System. Data on aircraft movements were fed to them simultaneously for comparison, and if one computer’s output differed from the other two it would be disregarded. That, however, was around 40 years ago, so where they are today is anyone’s guess.
If there is any record of him in the Marconi files, would it be likely to contain this information
Although there was much apprehension amongst senior management the contract was awarded and the development got under way. A team was set up under the leadership of Mel Bennett to enable this very exacting project. It was the first time that EOSD had obtained a contract direct from the USA. The main reason we were chosen was based on the expertise (probably the world leaders at the time) with airborne stabilised platforms based on experience with the ‘Heli Tele’ and other platforms being developed for the MoD.
It is with regret that I inform you of the passing of JF Bacon – Jack. He worked almost his entire working life at Marconi, and you may still have people within your association who knew him.
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He joined the company in 1929 and initially worked in stores at New Street. He later worked in planning, progress, at Rivenhall (where he was superintendent), Widford and finally again at New Street as an invoice clerk with E Buck.
Please come and support Martyn at our annual reunion on 21st April. Our veterans committee have agreed a very reasonable cost for the three course meal and we are looking for a record attendance. Friends are welcome and perhaps on receipt of this newsletter you could pass this request to anybody you know who wishes to become a veteran or friend of our Marconi Veterans’ Association.
This list of radio trade names and model numbers appeared in a 1933 edition of Radio-Craft magazine
Limited edition, tangerine coloured double vinyl set collated by Edgar Froese' missus Bianca Froese-Acquaye to celebrate/mourn the passing of the hugely prolific electronic pioneer, as she hand picks tracks (including the previously unreleased 'Ganymede's Kiss') that mean the most to her. Not perhaps the best starting place if you don't know the man's work as it concentrates on later material - go for Phaedra, Rubycon or Ricochet as kicking off points - but if you are already well acquainted with the TD catalogue then this is clearly a labour of love and definitely a nice addition to any krautrock fans record collection.
Michael was a ‘serious, intellectual and innovative engineer who would always deliver on a job’. In the 1960s, Michael worked for Plessey and, not satisfied with just doing his ‘day job’, he wrote a paper on a novel form of wireless communication technology which was eventually adopted by the company, designed into their products and put into production by Michael and his colleagues. The performance of the equipment was at least a decade ahead of its time. Eventually it was deployed on all British Royal Navy ships and submarines and sold across the world to the Chinese, Dutch, Americans, Malaysians and other navies.
Whilst the old narrow road bridge was being demolished prior to installing the present-day wider roadway structure. Both pictures were supplied by Peter Turrall.
He has local connections, being educated at KEGS during the war years, and family connections with Marconi’s
A ‘selfie’ from the beginning of 1972 showing, left to right, Ken Jacobs, Malcolm Mack and Terry Barnsley on our day off. It was taken at the beginning of 1972 at the Tropospheric site near Tabuk (Tebuk) north west Saudi Arabia. The area is south of Wadi Rum, near the Jordanian border.
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We are renovating the S600 and wish to reconstruct the control cabin using the equipment we have and fabricating the supports etc. For this our volunteers, who have worked on the S600 when still serving, need a few good photos as a guide. My memory would not be sufficiently accurate.
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The only exception is the front building which has a preservation order on it. This is now completely refurbished and occupied by an American cosmetics company called Benefit which employs a large number of female operators. Whilst the building has been tastefully redesigned internally, it has changed from its original details. The outside of the building still holds a plaque denoting the world’s first wireless broadcast took place from the building in 1920.
Ongoing are the twelve online wikis, now including one for MIMCO which came about partly through interest in WW1 wireless direction finding and partly from the discovery of a complete set of the journal Mariner dating from the English Electric takeover in 1946 until 1983. These have been scanned and mounted to provide a detailed record of personnel activities and equipment development for the second of the original companies.
Each morning I would wait for the air radar lot to leave for their classes. Then make my way down to the classroom that was mine for the morning.
The toast to the President was proposed by MVA Chairman Peter Turrall. In his opening remarks he noted that he and Basil Francis enjoy a friendship reaching back 64 years; Basil was best man at Peter’s wedding in 1954.
A radio was too expensive and far from practical. In the Chevrolet, the antenna covered the entire roof, batteries filled the space under the front seats, while huge horn speakers had to be erected in the back.
We have not yet heard from Desirée Martin as to the success or otherwise of her enquiries, but I have e-mailed her for an update, and two possible sources of further information about the Cape Sable station in Nova Scotia, the museum in Glace Bay and the community library at Clarks Harbour. Internet searches so far have yielded a little, but we might have further information to report next year.
What is says on the tin 7xCD boxset featuring all of the bands studio albums plus a bonus disc (True Blue) of demos from the Black Letter Days album sessions. All albums have been re-mastered and run to well over a hundred songs.
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With regard to the subscription, we are pleased to maintain the rate at £6/00 per annum but, regrettably due to increased costs, we must raise the cover price for the reunion to £24/00. I am sure that you will agree that this is still excellent value for a four course meal with tea/coffee and wine.