Our Guest of Honour – 2013

Our Guest of Honour this year was Mr Jonathan Douglas Hughes OBE DL who is a senior partner of Gepp & Sons, solicitors in Chelmsford and Under Sheriff for the county of Essex.


In his speech Mr Douglas-Hughes concentrated on his work as Under Sheriff.  This is very much a legal role and, in particular, he has on his staff four bailiffs.  He is not involved in the day to day collection of small dues but becomes involved in major recoveries.

He recounted the story of a Boeing 707 presidential jet that was flown into Stansted from Africa with the president’s family.  The owner of the aircraft (not the president or his government) required payment of the leasing dues and others required payment for the fuel.  As  a result the aircraft was seized and the under Sheriff ultimately disposed of the plane to recover as much money as possible.

AGM – 2013

The Annual General Meeting of the Marconi Veterans Association was held on Saturday 20th April 2013 at the Marconi Athletic & Social Club following the reunion and luncheon.


1  Minutes

To approve the minutes of the Annual General Meeting held on 14th April 2012.

The minutes were passed unanimously by a show of hands.

2.  Accounts

To receive the audited accounts for the year ended 31 December 2012.

Passed unanimously by a show of hands.

3.  Committee

To elect officers and members of the Committee.

All members of the Committee, being eligible, offered themselves for re-election.

The Committee was elected unanimously by a show of hands.

4. Appointment of Auditor

A resolution was proposed for the re-appointment of Mr T Mundon as auditor of the Marconi Veterans Association.

Passed unanimously by a show of hands.

5. Election of Honorary Veteran

In acknowledgement of his efforts in maintaining the collection of Marconi equipment and memorabilia at Sandford Mill, it is proposed to elect Dr. Geoff Bowles as an honorary Veteran.

Passed unanimously by a show of hands.

6.  Any other business

a)  Address by veteran Professor Roy Simon and veteran Alan Hartley-Smith

Roy and Alan will be detailing the progress being made with the BAE Heritage organisation and their aims for the future.

As Roy Simons was not able to attend the reunion the address was given solely by Alan Hartley Smith.  Please follow THIS LINK to hear or read Alan’s address.

b)  Request from the Essex Records Office

The Essex Records Office are seeking volunteers to assist with a possible Heritage Lottery Fund bid to catalogue the Marconi Photographic archive.

A short presentation on this subject was given by veteran Ken Earney to update veterans who may not have seen the website and using material that has already been published.  This can be read on THIS LINK

7.  Next Meeting

The next reunion and AGM will be on Saturday 5th  April 2014 at the Marconi Social Club.  This will be the 78th  reunion.

Peter Turrall’s response

As you will have realised from earlier posts and from Peter’s absence in the photograph of the committee and Honoured Guest, he was not able to attend the reunion.  However, he was able to record his response and this can be heard by CLICKING HERE.

Sadly, this is of poor recording quality and a transcription of his speech can be read below.

Robbie, vice-chairman, Eric, honoured guest, Jonathan, fellow veterans.

I was greatly honoured to receive the position as Chairman of the association and I would like to thank all of those people who elected me to the post.  I am very sorry I can’t be with you this afternoon due to circumstances beyond my control.

In the past it has been my job as Chairman to ask the new President to take up his position and also to brief him on various aspects of the Presidency.  This year I haven’t had to do that and one of the things I have always advised the President is to limit his time.  Well, I’m in that position now where I’ve probably got to limit my time concerning my speech this afternoon.

But I want to break it up into one or two parts and the first part concerns the history of our Company.  You all know that the history of our Company is very important and is documented in a number of books written by other people, the most important one being that written by Bill Baker who was charged by the Company to write the history from the beginning up until 1950.  Later on you will hear from one of our veterans about how we can consolidate our history.  But I want to get a point concerning what Sir Robert Telford told me when he asked me to clear his office out.  He had charged Jim Aikman to get in touch with all the mangers in the various divisions in the Company to ensure that senior staff wrote down the story of their operation, designs of the equipment and various stories concerning the installation.  While some of these were done, and when I cleared Sir Robert’s office, it took me as you can imagine several days, because of the amount of books that he had kept I found some of the requirements requested by Sir Robert and I have handed these over to the community.

So I want to appeal to all of you to continue the history of the Company, it is necessary for you to put pencil to paper or on tape and submit it to, probably our secretary, Barry so he can pass it on to the speaker you’ll hear about later on.  This is very important and even if you only have a small history of our Company please put it down on paper so that in the future other people will know what happened to this wonderful Company of ours.  I had the pleasure of working for the Company for nearly 48 years and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it, although I must admit that there were times when I didn’t get on too well with a certain managing director.

Coming to my second point concerns Marconi House in Chelmsford.  As you all know I’ve tried very hard to ensure our good relations with the owners of this building; it is now in the hands of Bellway Homes and although I have an understanding and discussions with them it is far too early for them to make any comment as to what will happen with regard to Marconi’s in the new building insofar as the history of the Company being recorded or a room available for us to put some of our artefacts.  I had invited one of the directors of Bellway Homes to come and talk to us at our AGM but unfortunately that did not happen.  I will keep in touch as far as possible with the new owners and if it is ever with him we will have some of our equipment held at the museum, the Industrial Museum, at Sandford Mill.

It is very difficult to persuade Chelmsford Borough Council to recognise the work that Marconi and his staff did in the town of Chelmsford.  On many occasions I have visited the small city council and discussed with them the movement of the statue and also to recognise in greater detail that which not only Marconi’s but the other big industrialists in the town brought the revenue into Chelmsford in many many ways and, in particular, the shopkeepers who also gained from the presence on Marconi personnel.  I will keep on trying but in the long run I am afraid it is up to other people to ensure that the city council does come up with some recognition of Marconi.

Now to my last point.  As I said earlier, I have enjoyed being with the Company for 48 years and I served under nine managing directors.  I got on with them extremely well with the exception of one who as you probably know took a great dislike to me in fact fired me three times in one day.  However, I was able to wear the badge as everybody else in the factory did “I survived Glasgow”.

Now, as I said, I travelled with the Company, overseas visits for something like 12 years until I became Publicity Manager.  So I will just recall just one or two points in that career of mine.  The first I suppose is when I attended an exhibition at the IBC in the Intercontinental Hotel in London; the senior staff had disappeared for lunch and I was left with one other person to look after the stand which had cameras, everything, vision mixers and other things on it.  A gentleman came along with a lady and was quite interested in the equipment, I showed him round and he was genuinely interested in the cameras and at the end of the visit I said to him “Can I have your card please because I’d like to follow this meeting up”.  He turned round and said to me “Well you didn’t recognise me but my name is Weinstock”.  I’m glad I treated him with great respect because when the senior staff came back from their lunch and I told them who’d been on the stand they were most concerned.  But all was well, It was Sir Arnold Weinstock in those days not Lord Weinstock.

Well, that was one story.  The other story was, of course, probably my biggest order ever and that was when I went to Egypt eight times in twelve weeks and came back with a most fantastic order from Egypt Broadcasting television outside broadcast vehicles, cameras, television transmitters, telecines, vision mixers etc. an absolutely fantastic order.  And I came back to England with that and there were great celebrations and when I went into the factory and told the factory manager what had happened great cheers went up.  This was probably one of the highlights of my particular career.

Well, unfortunately I can’t be with you this afternoon and to circumstances beyond my control but can I wish you all veterans a very good year and I hope you’ll do something to record the history of our Company.

Thank you.

Peter Turrall – our President for 2013

Peter was introduced by our Patron Veteran Robbie Robertson whose address to those assembled is reproduced below.


Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen, fellow veterans.  It’s good to be with you all again, and quite a change for me to be in a large gathering and know I’m not the oldest!  Today, it would have been my special privilege and great pleasure to introduce your President for 2013, Peter Turrall, M.B.E. but unfortunately he is not able to be with us today.

I’m sure there is a precise time limit for my few words, no doubt set by the Chairman (Peter Turrall) –  but I’m going to take what it needs to introduce this unique character – even though everybody knows him anyway.  It is in my view particularly appropriate that the first President to be inaugurated in these splendid surroundings should be Peter; our thanks to the MASC for the use of this fine new building.

Peter joined Marconi in 1951, eight years before me, but I’ve only known him for around 45 years.  In those far off days, when I was in Communications Division, on the second floor of Marconi House, the hallowed ground of the fourth floor belonged largely to Broadcasting Division, and I remember us humble Communications Division guys could only visit the top floor with permission, to seek knowledge and wisdom on the mysteries of broadcasting.  Peter was the source for me of all information on TV studios, and I quickly lost count of the number of times he pulled me out of the holes I’d dug for myself, in the early days of my involvement in broadcasting.  As the years progressed, it often seemed that Peter was always rescuing me from someone or something.  I particularly recall him saving me several times during a visit to what I think was then called South West TV in Plymouth.  Among many things we did together, one of the most memorable for me of Peters’ many achievements was the MCSL Agents Conference, in about 1986.  Representatives from around 40 countries attended; thanks to Peter’s splendid organisation, none of the expected disasters occurred, or at least only nearly!

Today I should really be talking about Peter’s incredible contribution to the well-being of the Marconi Veterans Association – all you lot.  I’m not good on dates these days, but I reckon Peter has been an active member – and I do mean active – of your committee for around 25 years, most of which either as vice-chairman, or for the last several years, as your Chairman.  This means he has probably spent close to 500 hours in committee meetings, and countless further hours implementing decisions made at the meetings.

Peter has campaigned tirelessly for all things Marconi; Chelmsford owes him a debt of gratitude for his efforts in the public arena, on a mass of activities far too numerous to list.

I could go on; about Peter’s major contributions to Mencap in Essex; his involvement in the life of Chelmsford Cathedral, and his current efforts regarding the New Street site redevelopment, etc., etc., but I think I would have probably embarrassed him enough!

We are all honoured, and grateful, that Peter has agreed to be our president for 2013.  We thank him for this, and we wish him all that is good in his presidential year.

Fellow Veterans, please rise and raise your glasses for a toast to your President for 2013, Peter Turrall M.B.E.


Reunion 2013


The Marconi Veterans reunion was held on 20th April in the new Marconi Clubhouse.

Our President this year is our Chairman Veteran Peter Turrall MBE. (below left)

Our guest of honour was Mr Jonathan Douglas-Hughes OBE DL a senior partner of Gepp & Sons, Solicitors in Chelmsford. (below right)

In Memoriam

We regret to report the deaths of the following Veterans and extend our sympathy to the families of those mentioned.

M T Gordon 1952
D A R Holdom 1961
G G Hutley 1956

This list was correct on 22 April 2013 and supersedes the list published on 18 March 2013.

In Memoriam

We regret to report the deaths of the following Veterans and extend our sympathy to the families of those mentioned.

A C Barton 1967
M Bull 1986
R E Burrells 1958
Mrs E Drake 1967
G A Ferrand 1940
K F Gazi 1962
P J Hall 1941
J S Heward 1966
D E Hughes 1938
J K Lonsdale 1959
F Matthews 1954
R W Potter 1956
J E Pownall 1946
D G Pudsey 1950
P M Ratcliffe 1951
R W Rawlings 1952
C D Sinclair 1944
P J Treadaway 1961
R T Worricker 1942
A H Wreford 1951

This list was correct on 18 March 2013 and supersedes the list published on 4 February 2013.

Marconi Photographic Archive – possible Heritage Lottery Fund bid

We have received the following note and request from Allyson Lewis at the Essex Records Office.

Essex Record Office holds the Marconi Photographic archive, a vast collection of negatives and prints covering all aspects of the work of the Marconi’s Wireless and Telegraph Company Ltd from the early years of the company to its closure.  The collection consists of glass plate negatives, acetate negatives and prints amounting to nearly 8 cubic metres, arranged on 94 shelves (ERO ref A11449).

A preliminary review of just one box of prints found pictures of the first medical use of colour television at St John’s Hospital, Chelmsford in July 1958, the use of VHF radios during Sir Donald Campbell’s attempt at the World Water Speed Record on Coniston Water in October 1958 and photographs of Alcock and Brown shortly after they landed in Ireland near a Marconi radio station, which were reproduced to mark the 40th anniversary of their record breaking 1919 flight across the Atlantic.

The collection is a treasure trove but the current indexes are inadequate for accessing it properly.  An HLF bid is proposed to make the collection available.  Although a project archivist would be appointed to catalogue the collection, volunteers would be needed to help identify images for which there are no captions and to add information about equipment.  They would also be asked to clean and repackage the negatives and possibly scan the negatives to make digital images, subject to our obtaining permission from the Marconi Corporation to do this.  If anyone worked with the photographic archive we would be particularly grateful for their help.

If any members of the Marconi Veterans Association are interested in being part of this project, could they give their names to Ken Earney in the first instance via the comments facility below.  He will liaise with Allyson Lewis at Essex Record Office to develop and submit the HLF bid.

April 2013

Writtle, New Street and Guys Farm…….AN APPEAL!

Hi all, many of you are familiar with my work on radio station 2MT at Writtle.  This note comes as a three way appeal – firstl, I am helping the Writtle Historic Society with their large project to document Writtle over 2000 years – so what they need is anyone who can supply information about the Marconi site and its activities at Writtle between 1925 and 1980…I have the periods 1919-1924 and 1980 to 1988 covered (but please always send anything new!) but the rest requires more research.  I have already put some bits together but please send any memories, photos, thoughts etc. to timwander@compuserve.com

As usual please don’t worry about format or style, spelling or punctuation I will sort all that out and I now have a excellent proof reader who now helps me out – which leads me on to the second part.

The 2010 2MT Writtle book is due an automatic makeover and typo fix as part of the publishing deal within five years of publication.  I have now had the text fully proof read (better late than never) and since its publication I have also received many letters, new documents and photos relating to the story.  SO…this is not a please buy another copy advert but more a the story will be updated and fixed and corrected so that in 100 years time it will be the best it could be and yes the New Street story is also within the five years edit – it has also been proofread and I have been tracking and recording the ongoing demolition.  So…again anything you can think of relating to the early days of Broadcasting or New Street through the ages or anything you would like recorded forever, your best stories or memories, please let me know.


The third appeal was in relation to Guys Farm in Writtle – I worked there between 1983 and 1986 and know it was in use by Marconi’s in 1962-1963. The rest is again a bit of a black hole. If you know anything please write it down and send it to me – I am not sure where this will go – the Writtle history society will archive all information – but I think it is important that someone writes it down.


Tim Wander.