Newsletter 2003

Note from Webmaser

This newsletter has been published as it was in the paper copy.  In 2003 attempts were made to produce the letters as they had been received but they did not produce good photocopies.  What is shown here has been digitally improved but I am afraid are still almost impossible to read.

Number 5
January 2003

Welcome to Newsletter number 5. We are fast approaching Christmas 2002 and this letter is being prepared ready to send out with the invitations for our annual Marconi Veterans Re-union which will take place at the Marconi Athletic & Social Club on Saturday 12th April 2003. Our incoming President is a very well known person, Stan Church who was with various Marconi Units for more years than we can remember. Stan was and still is a very energetic and popular member of the “Vets” and I am sure you will give him a warm welcome in April when for the next year he takes on the mantle of our President.

For those in the Chelmsford area watching the television on 27th October they might be wondering where our Annual Re-union would take place as the news commentary stated that the MASC building in Beehive Lane had been blown down. This of course was due to the exceptionally high winds and was sensational news. Many phone calls to the Club took place before it was established that a Groundsmans Hut with Tractor and other implements inside was the building blown down. The Clubhouse itself had only minor damage.

Rumours exist that the MASC Clubhouse has or is about to be sold and therefore we are actively looking for an alternative place for future Re-Unions just in case the news is true and we are landed with a problem.

Marconi Veterans Association

With our revised Constitution in place as agreed by the majority at our last Veterans AGM, we are now in the process of some small amendments to allow people who have worked in various Marconi Units which have been taken over by other organisations to become Marconi Veterans providing they fulfil the new criteria.  The most important of these is that they have completed 21 years service and not 25 years which was our previous requirement.  The details of this are set out below and perhaps if you know of any employee or ex-employee who fulfils the new criteria, please drop a line to Bernard Hazelton our Secretary so that we can verify the details and if possible invite the person to be one of our Veterans.


Employed within MES Group
21 years (not necessarily continuous)
Full Membership

Employed within MES Group and transferred to a controlling company (or its subsidiaries) or any organisation under State Control
21 years (16 with MES Group + 5 years continuous with other company/organisation)
Full Membership

Employed within GEC Group (prior to 29.11.1999) with relevant company becoming a subsidiary within the MES Group prior to 29.11.1999
21 years (11 with MES Group + 10 years continuous with other company prior to 29.11.1999)
Associate Membership

Employed within MES Group and transferred to an associated organisation outside the MES Group
21 years (16 with MES Group + 5 years continuous with other organisation)
Associate Membership

Employed within GEC Group (prior to 29.11.1999) and transferred to at least a 50% MES Group owned joint venture company
21 years (11 years with JVC + 10 years continuous with GEC Group company)
Associate Membership

Employed within JVC at least 50% owned by MES Group having less than 10 years continuous service prior to 29.11.1999 or no service at all within the GEC Group)
21 years continuous with JVC
Associate Membership


It is most important that all Veterans understand that from now on we cannot expect a lot of financial assistance from sources within the ex Marconi and other Chelmsford based companies. The name of Marconi as far as Chelmsford based Companies is concerned is virtually nonexistent. Whilst a number of Ex-Marconi employees are working in the companies in the Chelmsford area, the units have new names and their interests no longer include the Marconi Veterans Association. In fact we understand at New Street there are only 21 employees who work directly for Marconi plc based at Coventry.  The remainder are under the name of Marconi Mobile Limited a Finmeccanica company.

Under the circumstances we are making a special plea to existing Marconi Veterans to complete the payment form enclosed with this Newsletter by sending as soon as possible your Annual Subscriptions of £5 to our Secretary. If you can afford more, even if only a little more, it would be very much appreciated. Unless we receive this subscription we regret many of our activities including this Newsletter will have to be curtailed.

We have been warned that the offices occupied by our Secretary at Great Baddow and also the assistance he receives in the way of records, computer services etc., is under threat. If this is the case we will have to seek alternate accommodation and unfortunately cut down on the amount of services which can be offered. We will learn more about this at the Re-Union.

Museum Thanks

We asked if you would let the Editor know of any Marconi memorabilia either in your possession or elsewhere.  The response was good and many books, artefacts, letters and Company Newsletters and photographs were handed over to the Chelmsford Industrial Museum at Sandford Mill.  We have been asked through this Newsletter to thank those people who kindly made available those items.

Recently we received a telephone call from a widow of a Marconi employee advising that a number of Marconi booklets and photos had been found in the effects of her late husband. Would these be of any use to us?  Among the items were booklets of Marconi Jubilee celebrations and other useful items which were passed to the Museum.

Can we make a special plea to you to include in your will (or better still hand over Marconi items now) that upon your decease the items of Marconi interest in your possession are made available through the Veterans Association to the Chelmsford Industrial Museum.  This will ensure that forever the name of Marconi will carry on.

Marconi Name

The last two years have seen the name of Marconi removed from many of the original companies. Indeed right now we are not sure how much longer the name of Marconi will be used.  The parent Company Marconi plc are virtually in the hands of the UK banks. How much longer can they continue under severe financial restraints. The price of the Marconi shares are at rock bottom and many Marconi ex-employees have lost many thousands of pounds through the untimely poor operation of the parent company.

Marconi to be Recognised in Chelmsford

A full size bronze statue of our Founder Guglielmo Marconi is now in the London Foundry having last minute adjustments made. This will be erected in Chelmsford near to the Essex Record Office in Navigation Road early in the New Year. It is hoped that Princess Elettra and other dignitaries will also attend. We will endeavour to keep you advised of the date.


Come on you Veterans. I pleaded with you in my last Newsletter for you to let me have reminiscences, photos and anything to share with fellow Veterans. Unfortunately very few of you responded. I have had a lot of phone calls and letters saying please keep the Newsletter on a regular basis. Yes, we will do this but, please we need your help to fill the pages. So get out your pen, pencil or computer and write or e-mail me with a few anecdotes. It will only take you a minute. If you can supplement these with photographs so much the better. Ed.

Old Memories

We have no hesitation in including below a copy of a letter which Veteran Margaret King MBE sent to us. Margaret for many years was a Secretary in the old Marconi International Division here in Chelmsford. Her last boss was Stanley Clarke and other names in the area were John Sidebotham and Eric Royle to name but a few.


From Stan Church President elect of the Marconi Veterans Association


From Bill Lee


From Eric Peachey ex Secretary of The Marconi Company

Dear Peter,

I have just finished reading the M V A Newsletter No. 4 – another excellent production.  However, for the purposes of accuracy I must correct the date of the change of name of the Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company Limited to Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Company Limited provided by Peter Helsdon. It was not the 23rd February, 1900 but the 24th March 1900.

For the benefit of all interested parties I set out below the various name changes which have taken place and their effective dates:

1. The Company was incorporated in the name Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company Limited on the 20th July 1897
2. Changed to Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Company Limited on the 24th March 1900
3. Changed to The Marconi Company Limited on the 19th August 1963
4. Changed to GEC-Marconi Limited on the 24th April 1990.
5. Changed to Marconi Electronic Systems Limited on 4th September 1998
6. Changed to BAE SYSTEMS Electronics Limited on the 23rd February 2000.

The date of the change on the 24th April 1990 I engineered to coincide with my wife’s birthday
I also attach for information a detailed record of the Share Capital of the Company from its inception to the present time and hope this will be of interest

Yours sincerely


Authorised and Issued

£8,000,000 Divided into 16,000,000 Ordinary Shares of 10/- each, fully paid.

Original Capital

£100,000 in Ordinary Shares of £1 each.

Alterations to Authorised Capital

Resolutions dated
7th October 1898 to £200,000 Ordinary shares of £1 each.
31st March 1903 to £300,000 Ordinary Shares of £1 each
11th July 1905 to £500,000 Ordinary Shares of £1 each
30th April 1908 to £750, 000 divided into
….250,000 £1 Preference Shares
….500,000 £1 Ordinary Shares
25th October 1911 to £1,000,000 divided into
….250,000 £1 Preferences Shares
….750,000 £1 Ordinary Shares
3rd October 1913 to £1,500,000 divided into
….250,000 £1 Preference Shares
….1,250,000 £1 Ordinary Shares
13th November 1919 to £3,000,000 divided into
….250,000 £1 Preference Shares
….2,750,000 £1 Ordinary Shares
20th October 1922 to £4,000,000 divided into
….250,000 £1 Preference Shares
….3,750,000 £1 Ordinary Shares
15th March 1927 to £4,000,000 divided into
….250,000 £1 Preference Shares
….499,935 £1 Ordinary Shares
….6,500,130 10/- Ordinary Shares
16th December 1964 to £4,000,000 divided into
….250,000 £1 Preference Shares
….7,500,000 10/- Ordinary Shares
1st April 1965 to £4,000,000 divided into
….8,000,000 10/- Ordinary Shares
6th October 1965 to £8,000,000 divided into
….16,000,000 10/- Ordinary Shares

Capital Reduction 1927

By Special Resolution passed on the 15th March 1927 and approved by an Order of the High Court of Justice dated 11th November 1927 the Capital was reduced from £4,000,000 to £2,374,950 divided into
….250,000 7% Preference Shares of £1 each
….499,935 Ordinary Shares of £1 each
….3,250,038 Ordinary shares of £10/- each
1)   cancelling 10/- per share of paid up capital on 3,250,038 Ordinary Shares of £1
2)   cancelling 27 Ordinary Shares of £1 each which had been forfeited.

NB The 499,935 un-issued Ordinary Shares of £1 each were not affected.

On this reduction taking effect, the Capital was restored to £4,000,000, by the creation of 3,250,092 new Shares of 10/- each.

Allotment of Un-issued Capital July 1957

By Resolution of Directors passed on the 3rd July 1957 the 3,250,092 Shares of 10/- each were designated Ordinary Shares of 10/- ranking pari passu with the existing Ordinary Shares of 10/- each.

On 17th July 1957 the following Shares were issued to The English Electric Company Limited bringing the Issued Capital up to its Authorised Amount of £4,000,000.
….104,821 Ordinary Shares of £1 each,fully paid.
….3,250.092 Ordinary Shares of 10/- each, fully paid.

Sub-division of Capital 1964

By Ordinary Resolution passed by the Company on the 16th December 1964 each of the 499,935 Ordinary Shares of £1 each was sub-divided into two Ordinary Shares of 10/- each ranking pari passu in all respects to the existing Ordinary shares of 10/- each,

Scheme of Arrangement 1965

By Special Resolutions passed on the 2nd February 1965 and approved by an Order of the High Court of Justice dated the 15th March 1965 the capital was reduced from £4,000,000 to £3,744,717  10/- divided into.-
7,489,435 Ordinary Shares of 10/- each by
i)      cancellation of the 250,000 7% Cumulative Participating Preference Shares of £1 each and
ii)     cancellation of the Ordinary shares not held by The English Electric Company Limited and its nominees.

On this reduction taking effect on 1st April 1965, the Capital was increased to its former amount of £4,000,000 by the creation of 510,565 Ordinary Shares of 10/- each, which were allotted as fully paid to The English Electric Company Limited.

On the 6th October, 1965 the Capital was increased to £8,000,000 by the creation of 16,000,000, 10/- shares.

From J.F. Keohane

jf_keohane1From Peter Helsdon

A Comfortable Childhood
Ten years after Maxwell’s 1864 electromagnetic wave predictions; on 25 April 1874, a baby boy was born in Bologna, Italy. Guglielmo Marconi spent his first weeks at his family’s town house, the Palazzo Marescalchi, in the Piazza San Salvatore.
Guglielmo’s father, Giuseppe Marconi was a wealthy landowner. He loved the countryside and was known as a keen businessman. His mother, Signora Marconi, was formerly Annie Jameson, whose Scottish family lived in Ireland. The two had met in Bologna while Annie was a music student and married in 1864.
The baby Guglielmo had a nine year old brother Alfonso, and also an elder half-brother, Luigi, by his father’s previous marriage.
Life was comfortable for the Marconi’s. Soon after Guglielmo’s birth, they moved to their country house, the Villa Griffone at Pontecchio, near Bologna. In what became a settled early routine, they lived at the villa with its beautiful gardens in summer. In the harsh Bologna winter, the whole family would move to Florence or Leghorn, for milder weather.
This family photograph shows five-year old Guglielmo with his mother and older brother Alfonso. In the background is the family home, Villa Griffone.


From George Stebbings

george_stebbingsFrom Leonard Oakes

Thank you very much for your last Marconi Veterans letter. I notice that most of your items come from people who live and work around Chelmsford. I worked over thirty years for Marconi Instruments at Stevenage. I would like to put on record that we did some valuable work for the Company at Stevenage and St. Albans. Why not ask for memories from those great towns by the people who worked there?
I started in a small company, one of the first factories in the New Town of Stevenage which was soon purchased by Marconi. I was blind, and after a few months I was shown the layout of the New Town and its factories. I already had my name down for a Guide Dog and I was informed that it would be a good idea if I could bring my application forward.

This I did and in June I got the letter that I was waiting for asking me to go down to Exeter for training. The boss said “We will take you down there”. I was to be away for a month. It did cause a bit of a stir for a young man to be brought to the centre in a Rolls Bentley, and a crowd from the centre came out to have a look. After a month I rang to ask if they would come and fetch me, and the lovely dog called Jenny that I had trained with. Again the Rolls Bentley arrived.
A few days at home and I was ready to start work. What I did not know as I neared the factory was that there was a crowd of friends and staff waiting to welcome us both back to work.
After the first excitement I was called to the office and was told that the dog was to be put on the payroll, and she was also going to have a Clock Card. Then she will be covered if any accident occurs.
I worked as an inspector and I had a complete range of Braille equipment both in Imperial and Metric, and all was checked by the staff in one of the special rooms free from dust and humidity. Correct temperature all the time. All of these instruments were approved by Government Inspectors who came to the factory. For most of the work was for the MoD.
I retired in 1992 and towards the end of that year I received a letter from 10 Downing Street asking me if I would like to receive the B.E.M medal from the Queen. I said I would and was informed not to tell anyone. The following January I was in the New Years honours list. Soon the bell started ringing from the local press and many of my friends congratulated me.
Later that year I was invited to Bowes Lyon House in Hertfordshire to be presented with the medal along with four other people. I was told my wife and daughters could accompany me. It was a beautiful house and after drinks and then a citation was read out and the medal was pinned on me. The citation spoke of the work I had done for Guide Dogs and the instruments I had been involved with at work, measuring by sound.
Later on my wife and I got an invitation to one of the Queen’s Garden Parties at Buckingham Palace, the company took my wife and I up to the Palace and we spent a lovely afternoon there, looking around the gardens and seeing members of the Royal Family. The chauffeur met us again afterwards and brought us home. A once in a lifetime trip.
I have written this so that you will see what a great Company Marconi was to me and many others, it’s a great pity it has been on the decline recently. Nevertheless as a Radio Ham G.W.8F.O.Y. It will be remembered as long as one can send out a Radio Signal

Marconi Veterans Website

We are currently putting the final touches to the Marconi Veterans Website before it goes live early in 2003.
Subject to approval from Marconi HQ, the address will be so try logging on around February/March. If we are unable to use this address we will announce the correct one at the Annual Reunion and in the next newsletter.
Initially, the presentation will be rather basic, but we hope to improve the standard as time goes on and are always open to suggestions on what you would like to see there. One section will give the latest news and another will enable you to read or download the current newsletter. Another section will help you get back in touch with old colleagues via the MVA.
Write a letter to the person you are trying to contact, place it in a stamped unaddressed and unsealed envelope and send it with a few details about the person (where they worked and when, will help us to ensure that your letter is sent to the right address) to:- The Secretary (Search), The Marconi Veterans Association, at the usual address.
If we have an address for your colleague, we will address the envelope to them and post it. If we have no address, or if we have been informed of your colleague’s demise, we will address the envelope to you and return your letter. We regret that, for confidentiality reasons, we are unable to give out addresses directly and that it is not practical for us to deal with passing on messages via the telephone.
We hope that, by the Annual Reunion, the website will have been up and running for a few weeks and that some attendees will have logged on. Please let me know what you think – It is, after all for you!
Barry Powell, Marconi Veterans Committee c/o Secretary Marconi Veterans Association

From Jimmy Leadbitter

In the Queen’s Jubilee Year various TV “shots” have mentioned the Commonwealth Tour to Australia, NZ etc on the “Gothic”.
How many of our members know that the “Gothic” was fitted with Marconi equipment originally at the end of 1951 for the tour to take place early 1952 by the then Princess Elizabeth & Prince Philip. Due to the death of the King this was cancelled but the tour was then held December 1953 to April 1954.
MWT equipment installed was the 7kW Transmitter SWB 11 X with three Rx’s, one OC 13, one CR150/3 and a CR150/5. A.J.G. Corbett the Marconi Engineer sailed with the ship.
MIMC Equipment (the majority manufactured by MWT) installed additional to the existing mandatory equipment was
Worldspan Transmitter
Mercury, Electra (2) and Yeoman Rx’s
Navigational equipment Radiolocator Radar Lodestone Direction Finder Visagraph Echometer
“Oceanic” Sound reproducing equipment (SRE) was specially designed manufactured and installed to provide Broadcasts and entertainment throughout the vessel.
MIMCO Radio Officers C.H. Roberts, H.A. Palmer, D.J. Pilgrim and D.C. Clayton manned the station.
The installation provided high speed telegraphy, ship to shore R/T and speech inversion for state, naval and press traffic with broadcast facilities for the BBC. Godfrey Talbot was the BBC Commentator on board.
The above info was extracted from various articles in The ‘Marconi Mariner’.

From Tom Gutteridge

tom_gutteridgeFrom Charles Boyton


Bradwell Bay Essex Airfield

Charley Rand, ex Marconi Radar and Chairman of our Veterans Association, came across an article recently depicting the Bradwell Bay airfield which during the last war was extensively used to test Radar equipment. Low flying aircraft attempted to fly under the Radar net and this gave valuable information in the design of the now famous “Chain Home” Radar defence system which covered most of the south and east coasts of England. An article and photograph found in the write up entitled “The unknown airfield – R.A.F. Bradwell Bay” are repeated below.
As the allies entered Germany in 1945 an RAF Regiment officer found on a Luftwaffe base a magnificent model of the Marconi works which had apparently been made for briefing pilots for the attack.  This is now in the entrance hall at the Chelmsford offices and Chris Vlotman, now captain of a KLM DC8 jet, flew from Alaska some years ago to be the company’s guest and speaker at a charity dinner-dance for the Trueloves school for physically handicapped boys at Ingatestone.

Editors Note: The model is now housed with other Marconi artefacts awaiting a
decision on their final resting place.

“The History of the Radio Officer in the British Merchant Navy and on Deep-Sea Trawlers”

The above is the title of a book recently published under the name of Joanna Greenlaw. It is extremely well written and the research undertaken has been very painstaking and thorough. A foreword by His Highness The Duke of Edinburgh complements the Editor on the accuracy of the work undertaken.
The book is on sale direct from the publishers Messrs DINEFWR, Rawlings Road, Llandybie, Carmarthenshire, Wales, SA18 3YD Telephone 01269 851989 and is priced at £19.95 plus postage £3.50, however, a discount of 20% on this price has been agreed and providing the person ordering the book states that they are a Marconi Veteran, then this discount will be accepted. Cheques made payable to Dinefwr Publishers.
Although written under the name of Joanna Greenlaw, the Editor of this book is known to many Marconi Marine ex-employees as Paul Lintzgy. He was for many years Personnel Officer at Elettra House, Westway, where he dealt with the activities of Marconi Radio Officers.
The Editor now living in Wales, has a number of other books published including “The Swansea Copper Barques and Cape Horners”, “Swansea Clocks” and “Longcase Clocks” and lectures worldwide on these subjects.

Caption Competition

The response to this competition to put it mildly was pathetic. Only two answers were received. One from our incoming President Stan Church who suggested the names of the “four bald men” from left to right as George Stock, Charley Britton, George Strutt and Charley Swanborough. The caption he gave was “We wish we could bowl a maiden over’.
The other contributor was Basil Rolfe who many of you will remember worked in the New Street Stores. He also suggested the same names as Stan Church and his caption was “Marconi Selectors at work”.
The Editor is awarding a bottle of wine to each of them in view of their efforts. Perhaps next time we can have a few more responses – that is if you feel like dropping us a line. Ed.

New Caption Competition

The Editor will award one of his own books “Chelmsford a Stroll through Time” just published and covering life in the town in the late 1940’s as seen through the eyes of himself to the best Caption of the following.



Obituaries are now included in the ‘In Memoriam’ section of this site

This Newsletter has been compiled and edited by Peter Turrall MBE who would be delighted to receive inputs for the next issue. He can be contacted by e-mail peter or at his home address which is 96 Patching Hall Lane, Chelmsford, Essex, CM1 4DB.
Opinions and comment expressed in this Newsletter are those which have been given to the Editor. The Editor and Marconi Veterans Association are unable to enter into detailed correspondence or accept views of other people in connection with any article or comment written herein.