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new street bdg sm

A special visitor to Marconi Communications in the Spring of 1981 was HRH The Duke of Kent. Preparations for this visit  had been made several weeks before and the various destinations within the Company premises where the Duke was to visit was well arranged and ready by the actual day.

The Duke landed by Helicopter on the playing field adjacent to the English Electric factory in Waterhouse Lane, Chelmsford and was taken by a Company car to the New Street site where he was met by the then Managing Director of MCSL Mr. Paul Robinson. Following a few introductions to senior staff, the Duke was escorted to Building 720 accompanied by the Managing Director as well as Company Directors and photographers.

The Duke was shown various stages of manufacture of High Power Television and Radio Transmitters as well as meeting Company personnel and apprentices. The undersigned as Director of Publicity, having been introduced to the Duke, went ahead of the party through Building 720 to ensure everything was ready for the Duke to see and also, to maintain a strict timescale for the visit as the Duke following lunch, was to visit other parts of the Marconi units in the Chelmsford area and time was important.

After approximately ten minutes, I was approached by one of the Special police detectives who were stationed in various parts of the premises, requesting me to hold up the visit for five minutes, as an emergency had arisen outside of the building. Having nipped back to advise the MD to delay the visit, he was not very pleased but I insisted he must accept this request. In due course the visit continued and the Duke with the MD and several senior Directors left the building and proceeded to the Luncheon Club for a well prepared lunch before embarking back to Waterhouse Lane and visiting other Chelmsford based Marconi establishments.

Whilst the Duke and Senior members of the Company were having lunch, I had the opportunity of discussing with the Detective, the reason I was asked to delay the Duke and Managing Director from exiting Building 720. They advised me that during the time they were keeping a watch outside of Building 720, they saw two people walking along the adjacent railway embankment carrying something on their shoulders . They  shouted  to them  to stop, but they took no notice. The Detectives told two uniformed police who were guarding the entrance to the factory to go and chase these two men. There was a problem on how to get up the Railway embankment. No ladder could be found in the area and the boundary fence between the factory and the railway line was over eight feet high topped by a string of barbed wire and would be difficult to get over. Somebody decided to go to the Gents Toilet,  which was right opposite the fence, and lifted up the Duck Boards which were on the floor and placed them against the fence allowing the policemen to climb up them and over to the railway embankment.

Meanwhile, the two people on the railway embankment had disappeared into a large adjacent bush.  When the policemen got to the bush, they asked these two men what they were doing. They got a very indignant answer from two Irish railway labourers. "What’s it to do with you mate" we were only having a pee"

A very true story which at the time caused a lot of amusement to the staff waiting in the yard.  This was their lunch hour and all this had taken place in front of them.