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As in previous years, a number of letters are from correspondents seeking information about former colleagues, for research into their family history, or for the preparation of articles, books, etc.  If no contact detail appears with the letter then please direct your reply or any correspondence for the enquirer to:

Newsletter editor Mark Watson-Lee, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

or to the secretary:
Colin Fletcher, Secretary, Marconi Veterans Association, 41 Sunrise Avenue Chelmsford Essex CM1 4JN
Tel: 01245 267696, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Items for possible publication in the newsletter should also be addressed, if submitting electronically, to the editor as above or to the secretary if submitting hard copy by post.

In the majority of cases published below the enquirer has been directed to the comprehensive guide produced by Barry Powell to the online resources which may be helpful with this kind of enquiry. Find it on the MVA website at:

http://www.marconi-veterans.org/?page_id=3047/   Enquirers have also been directed to the Bodleian Library.

Certain items in this issue, particularly on this and the next page, are responses to letters or articles appearing in the 2017 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.

Picking up on mention of the internet, many of the articles now come with links to web pages giving considerably more information on topics than can be included on these pages. For those not internet enabled, may I suggest you enlist the help of a friend or neighbour who is, or go to your local library – use them or lose them! – to enable you to see the material referred to.

Recollections of Frederick ‘Freddie’ Beales
From Mike Plant, 27 February 2018

Further to the item in this year’s Newsletter about Freddie, I cannot help in respect of the photograph but hope my own recollection of him will remind a great many ex-colleagues who will remember him as a progress chaser par excellence on the factory floor and often working around the machine shop area, Goods In and WIP stores.

The Progress Chaser had responsibility not only, on occasion, to speed things up, eg if a workpiece had been rejected and required to be reworked, stripped and replated, or similar circumstance needing extra priority, but perhaps more often to locate items required by assembly which had temporarily disappeared! There were many such events in my time, 1961 to 66, and Freddie would find the missing item every time, his success in this almost uncanny at times. And while he probably didn’t (quite) break the ‘no running’ rule, he must have been very close a thousand times – energetic and hard working and never downhearted.

I single him out of a good bunch of contemporaries for his unique combination of all these characteristics, no criticism intended of others including Snowy White (not the Foreman of WIP store), and also coming to mind, Eddie Whitbread in the corner of section 17.

I had long wondered whether Freddie was still in the company. Then unexpectedly, and many years later, in 2014 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! A hero to me.

Photo of Frederick Beales – 1
From Nick Watts, 23 February 2018

 

As in previous years, a number of letters are from correspondents seeking information about former colleagues, for research into their family history, or for the preparation of articles, books, etc.  If no contact detail appears with the letter then please direct your reply or any correspondence for the enquirer to:

Newsletter editor Mark Watson-Lee, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

or to the secretary:
Colin Fletcher, Secretary, Marconi Veterans Association, 41 Sunrise Avenue Chelmsford Essex CM1 4JN
Tel: 01245 267696, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Items for possible publication in the newsletter should also be addressed, if submitting electronically, to the editor as above or to the secretary if submitting hard copy by post.

In the majority of cases published below the enquirer has been directed to the comprehensive guide produced by Barry Powell to the online resources which may be helpful with this kind of enquiry. Find it on the MVA website at:

http://www.marconi-veterans.org/?page_id=3047/   Enquirers have also been directed to the Bodleian Library.

Certain items in this issue, particularly on this and the next page, are responses to letters or articles appearing in the 2017 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.

Picking up on mention of the internet, many of the articles now come with links to web pages giving considerably more information on topics than can be included on these pages. For those not internet enabled, may I suggest you enlist the help of a friend or neighbour who is, or go to your local library – use them or lose them! – to enable you to see the material referred to.

Recollections of Frederick ‘Freddie’ Beales
From Mike Plant, 27 February 2018

Further to the item in this year’s Newsletter about Freddie, I cannot help in respect of the photograph but hope my own recollection of him will remind a great many ex-colleagues who will remember him as a progress chaser par excellence on the factory floor and often working around the machine shop area, Goods In and WIP stores.

The Progress Chaser had responsibility not only, on occasion, to speed things up, eg if a workpiece had been rejected and required to be reworked, stripped and replated, or similar circumstance needing extra priority, but perhaps more often to locate items required by assembly which had temporarily disappeared! There were many such events in my time, 1961 to 66, and Freddie would find the missing item every time, his success in this almost uncanny at times. And while he probably didn’t (quite) break the ‘no running’ rule, he must have been very close a thousand times – energetic and hard working and never downhearted.

I single him out of a good bunch of contemporaries for his unique combination of all these characteristics, no criticism intended of others including Snowy White (not the Foreman of WIP store), and also coming to mind, Eddie Whitbread in the corner of section 17.

I had long wondered whether Freddie was still in the company. Then unexpectedly, and many years later, in 2014 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! A hero to me.

Photo of Frederick Beales – 1
From Nick Watts, 23 February 2018

A few facts relating to the photo of Fredrick Beales known to us all as Freddy. At that time Freddy was the stores supervisor at Rivenhall.  The photo was taken outside Hanger 1 at Rivenhall The equipment was a ICS3 System probably destined for the American Navy.  The people in the photo as far as I can remember are as follows:- Back row 1st Phil (no surname); 3rd from left Brad (no surname); 4th Harold (no surname); 5th Bob Scorey (test supervisor). Front row 1st Malcolm Smith (test supervisor; 3rd Freddy Beales; 4th Alf Goodwin (quality controller).  At the time I was Project Controller for this equipment.

Photo of Frederick Beales – 2
From: Andrew Sargent, 11 March 2018

At the time of the photo, in the summer of 1985, I was programme engineer on the LHD?1 project.

A label like the one shown was placed on the back of every photo taken by the in-house photographic department for identification, the number J8506-01K identifies the group photograph.

Moving on to the picture, it was taken at Rivenhall airfield, near Silver End, Essex. Several of the hangers and Nissen huts were used by Marconi Communications in the 1980s. Some of the people are Malcolm Smith front left, John Deacon front second left and Simon Akers back right. Malcolm and John were members of the Rivenhall test team, Simon was a member of the New Street programme team. The outfits are part of the USS Wasp’s external communications system purchased by Litton Data Systems Division for the United States Navy. All the outfits were tested and packed at Rivenhall, then some 50 crates in total, were delivered to Ingalls Shipyard, Pascagoula Mississippi.

Kenneth ‘Ken’ Hutley
From Andrew Hutley, 25 February 2018

My late father Ken was a lifelong member of MCSL. He died at the age of 94 in Broomfield Hospital on 25 January 2018.

I followed Dad into Marconi, joining in 1981, was issued with the adjacent employee number and worked through the apprenticeship scheme ending up in Space and Microwave Test between 1984 and 1988. In 1989 I joined the National One empire which was eventually devolved from MCSL.

What follows was read as a tribute at his funeral a couple of weeks ago.

Ken was born on 15 June 1923 to Florence and Amos Hutley in Witham.  He went to school in Witham and subsequently to the North East Technical College in Colchester.
He applied to The Marconi Company for a job and after an interview began work at Chelmsford on 19 May 1939 where he progressed through a number of positions. His reserved occupation meant he was exempt from war duties: he did however serve in the Home Guard.  During the course of his employment he worked at various sites and after a spell at Rivenhall he moved back to Chelmsford.

In 1961 Ken was given a new challenge – to set up an in-house department to repair all test equipment used in the Marconi sites around Chelmsford, where he remained until his retirement in 1987. During this time he worked at Writtle and Westway.

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.

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.

Alongside the serious duties of church music, he had several other musical interests. Firstly, during the post war years, he joined a dance band called the Raggamuffins, playing piano alongside friends with drums, saxophones and other instruments; he regularly experienced the ‘joys’ of the local village hall pianos. Ken’s other musical love was the cinema organ and it was partly this enthusiasm that led to the construction of an electronic organ at home to recreate the sounds of the cinema. At the flick of a switch, the home organ turned into a church organ, providing a much warmer environment in which to practice for Sunday services.

His health started to decline in 2008 when he narrowly escaped a kidney failure and through the course of 2014 and 2015 he was required to attend two hospitals on a regular basis. After his wife Marjorie passed away in February 2016, he experienced a fall and that, combined with other medical issues, resulted in frequent lengthy hospitalisations in 2016 and 2017.  In between times, Ken required home care as he refused at all costs any suggestion to move to a place where 24hr care could be provided.

John Robson (1928 – 2018)
From Elizabeth and Anne Robson, 27 September 2018

Our father, John Robson, died on 29 August 2018, aged 90. He was an employee of Marconi Radar Systems between 1967 and 1991.  Although not a member of the Marconi Veterans Association, he had happy memories of his time at Marconi and enjoyed reading about former colleagues and the history of the company on your website.

John spent 14 years, from 1944 to 1958, in the Royal Navy, trained in electronics and worked his way up from Boy 2nd Class to Chief Petty Officer.  In the early 60s, he worked as a team leader for the Radio Corporation of America at Fylingdales radar base on the North York Moors.

He moved to Great Baddow in November 1967 to join Marconi Radar Systems as a radar systems designer and latterly as a technical author, before retiring in July 1991.

He leaves four daughters who remember with affection the children’s Christmas parties organised by the Marconi Sports and Social Club.

Peter Robinson
From Hollie Newton, 20 February 2018

I hope you don’t mind me contacting you. My name is Hollie Newton, and my grandad Peter Robinson worked for Marconi during the war. He was an engineer, I believe, working on radar.

I never got to meet my grandad. He passed away when my mum was only 17, leaving a Peter Robinson-shaped hole right in the middle of our family.

I now find myself writing a book about chain ferries, of all things, which has led me to the Haven Hotel at Sandbanks, Marconi’s early experiments in long range radio – and the link to my own family history.

I wonder, if it doesn’t put you to too much trouble, if you might have any information about him. Does anyone remember him? Is there any writing about him maybe? Even the smallest record would be very much appreciated.

Keith Chittenden
From Brian Saunders, 15 January 2019

Keith Chittenden, the former Managing Director of Marconi Radar Systems, passed away on 29 December 2018 aged 84. He is survived by his wife Sylvia, his daughter Sandra and his son Jeremy.

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. He will be sadly missed. A service commemorating his life was held at Holy Trinity Church, Minchinhampton Tuesday 2 January.

Keith wrote of his experiences on a visit to Oman in 1986 in the 2009 newsletter (No.11) page 12. (Page 22 in the on-line edition)

Eric Gildersleve – a memorable Marconi character
From Alan Matthews

Eric Gildersleve was living in a nursing home in Hertfordshire close to his family when he died in July 2018. Alan Matthews, a former colleague from Pottery Lane days, shared some of memories of him. Here is one such.

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. Outside I said to him: “What were you doing at that meeting, that is not your field of expertise?” “Well” he said “I had come over from Baddow for a meeting which was cancelled and walking past the room I could see a meeting going on with some refreshments, so thought two requirements could be satisfied – my need to go to a meeting and also for a bit of refreshment!