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new street bdg sm

It was way back in 1984 or thereabouts, we had been unsuccessful in selling S511 to the Americans with our demonstration at the Grand Canyon airport but we caught the eye of the Canadians who bought five systems including the one at the Grand Canyon. This was to be installed at the Canadian Forces Base at Lahr in Germany to replace the S654. They were not too sure if their power supplies would be suitable so asked for a survey to be carried out on site. The people chosen to go were Alf Lund of the Power Equipment section at New Street and Harry Cole in ATC Systems.

Near the time, Alf Lund had another important engagement so asked his No. 2, John Biggs to take his place. Even nearer the time, Harry Cole found something more important to do so I was asked to replace him. So we turned up at the Canadian Forces check-in desk at Gatwick and told them that Lund and Cole would not be travelling with them today but Biggs and Reynolds would.

Now any other day it would have been OK, but as it happened the two notorious train robbers, Biggs and Reynolds had escaped from prison only a few days earlier. After a bit of leg pulling we were loaded on to the old Boeing 707 and set off for Germany. Just before we were due to land they announced that the runway at Lahr was being re-surfaced so we would land in Baden and would be taken to Lahr by road to Lahr and collect our luggage there. Unfortunately our bags had been left on the plane and were by now on their way to Canada.

More hilarity followed when we arrived at the Hotel Lowen with no baggage and I explained to the boss, in my best German, that Lund and Cole had been replaced by Biggs and Reynolds when on his desk the newspaper Die Zeitung bore as it headline that Biggs and Reynolds were wanted by Interpol. We were well received however and I think we even got a free beer out of it.

We got our bags back eventually, mine came via New York but a few items were missing and now had new owners somewhere.

One interesting thing I learnt talking to John Biggs was about German railways. As we travelled by bus to Lahr we passed very close to a railway line and he told me that he designed the motors used in their locomotives when he worked at Crompton Parkinsons. He told me that all their trains ran on a supply at 16 2/3 Hz. I think it was done to stop people stealing electricity but made me wonder how Eurostar get a train to run from St. Pancras to Frankfurt. All suggestions on a postcard please.