Newsletter 2013

Marconi New Street building receives a face-lift

Please click on the title Newsletter 2013 above to open the full document and on any picture in this newsletter to open a larger version.

Peter Turrall MVA Chairman

Above, the New Street factory in its youth, circa 1918, from a postcard containing one of Fred Spalding’s splendid photographs of Chelmsford.  The reverse carries the following message: “Dear Dorothy, I thought you would like these of the place where I am working.  This one is when we are leaving off.  I hope you receive my letter. With love from Dorothy.”
Another Spalding postcard image appears on the back page.

Bellway Homes, whose headquarters are in Rainsford Road Chelmsford, has purchased the Marconi site in New Street. Following two exhibitions at the Anglia Ruskin University where they showed plans of the possible redevelopment of the site, they have now submitted plans to the Chelmsford City Council for modifications to the front building and small demolition immediately behind this which was the old Television Test area. The plans also include retention and updating of the water tower which is along Marconi Road. Detailed plans of the rest of the site which take into consideration comments made at the two exhibitions by members of the public will be submitted in 2013 and will contain requirements for over four hundred houses and other small outlets. It is hoped that recognition of some of the major achievements associated with the Marconi Company will be included in the general layout of the site.

The Marconi Veterans Association has already had preliminary discussions with the owners: in due course it is hoped these will lead to us helping them establish and possibly exhibiting some of the artefacts of the company within the front building.

The whole front area which had been neglected by the previous owners for a number of years was tidied up by the local authority when it was known the Olympic flame was to pass by on its way to the city centre. (The damaged ground floor window apertures were covered by protective panels decorated with images representing the history of the site. The photo on the left was taken as the Olympic torch was passing the building on the 6th July last year. Ed.) Now the building is completely shrouded by plastic sheets and scaffolding whilst repairs are carried out to the leaking roof, and the window sills and front façade are repaired. The owners hope with internal modifications such as exhibition area, offices and new toilets, this building will be open as Bellway Homes new headquarters in the spring of 2013.


Whilst exact details of the rest of the site are unclear at this stage, it is proposed to knock down the five storey concrete building known as Marconi House and also the wavy roof building known as Building 720. Although a number of objections to the removal of these two buildings have been made, it is understood both will not be in line with the modernisation of the rest of the site. In addition Marconi House is suffering from severe concrete cancer.

At least the front building, which celebrated its centenary in 2012, will be preserved and the many memories of staff and the products they produced will still be exhibited within the new complex.

Be sure to read Alan Hartley-Smith on page 5 regarding future preservation of the Marconi Heritage.

Reunion 2013 – an invitation from our Secretary


February 2013

Dear Fellow Veteran

First, let me wish all Veterans a healthy and prosperous 2013.

I would like to take this opportunity to welcome all new members to the Association and hope to see them at the Annual Reunion, which will be held on Saturday 20th April 2013. This will be the 77th Reunion and the venue will be the New Marconi Social Club, Beehive Lane, Chelmsford, where there is ample parking for those who travel by road.  The new venue will, naturally, involve some minor changes to the running of the Reunion.  The Bar is now within the Main Hall (on the right as you enter the Club) and will open at 11.00 a.m.  There will be various displays and the merchandise table located in the hall and you will have plenty of time to enjoy them (and meeting up with colleagues) until it is time to take your seats for the luncheon. This will take place, as usual, at 1.00 p.m. with the Annual General Meeting and the Raffle concluding the proceedings.  There may be additional changes, but these will be advised to you with your ticket.  If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to ring me on the above number.

We are, again, producing a commemorative Coaster and one per person is included in the ticket price.  I will also have additional coasters, for sale, plus some coasters from previous years as well as a number of  Ties, Scarves and Badges. I will also have a limited number of the New Street Photo CDs but I can make more if we run out.

Our President for 2013 is Peter Turrall, Chairman of the Association’s Management Committee and a well known champion of everything “Marconi”.

Joining the Reunion as our Honoured Guest is Mr. Jonathan Douglas-Hughes OBE, DL. Senior Partner of Gepp and Sons, Solicitors, Chelmsford and Under Sheriff of the County of Essex.

The menu for this year’s luncheon will be as follows: –
Brussels Pate with Melba Toast
Steak & Mushroom Pie
Lemon Torte
Coffee, Cheese and Biscuits

We appreciate that some Veterans may have special dietary requirements and would request that you indicate this on your application. We are able to cater for most requirements.

We are pleased to announce that both the Subscription and luncheon prices will be held at last year’s levels of £6.00 and £22.00 respectively.

Those Veterans who wish to attend are requested to apply to the above address at the earliest possible date in order that I may properly assess the numbers.  As usual, we invite donations but I must stress that if only a modest donation can be managed, or even none at all, please do not let this prevent you from attending the Reunion, as all donations will be treated in the strictest confidence.  To reduce administration, please combine your ticket price, subscription, etc. onto a single cheque which should be made payable to ‘Marconi Veterans’ Association’.

Please note that it is not acceptable for guests to bring their own drink or food into the Club. Please refrain from this practice as anyone doing so may be asked to leave the Reunion and could be refused a ticket in the future. As last year, cheese & biscuits are included in our menu and additional bottles of wine can be purchased from the bar.

Your assistance is requested with the seating arrangements and we ask you to indicate, on your ticket application, with which Company you would prefer to sit (i.e. Comms, Radar, Baddow, Basildon, Marine, MI).

Following a suggestion from a Veteran, we are compiling a list of forenames and nicknames in an effort to make the various lists less formal and enable people to distinguish between Veterans with similar initials.  In addition, this year, we are experimenting with the issue of self adhesive name tags for you to wear at the Reunion.  When you order your ticket, please indicate, in the box provided, how you would like your tag to read.  THE DEFAULT WILL BE TO PRINT YOUR NAME AS IT APPEARS ON THE FIRST LINE OF YOUR ADDRESS LABEL.  So please fill in the spaces on the Subscription/Ticket application form.

We are, again, inviting entries for the ‘Absent Friends’ book, containing messages from Veterans who were unable to attend.  Two copies will be produced and prominently displayed at the Reunion. If you wish to place a message in the book, please use the space provided on the attached form.  Entries will be identified by name but no contact details will be provided unless you include them within the message area.

As the Association has a very limited income, and in order to keep our expenses to a minimum, receipts for Subscriptions and/or Donations will not be issued unless requested so we thank you in anticipation.

Your Committee is prepared to receive any nominations, propositions or suggestions for submission to the AGM, providing they reach me in writing by 31st March 2013.

We are pleased to announce that we now have over 40 ‘Friends of the Marconi Veterans’ Association’.  All ‘Friends’ receive the newsletter and we will do all we can to keep them in touch with ex-colleagues but they are not eligible to attend the Reunion.  The 2013 subscription for Friends is £3.00.  If you know of anyone who would like to be included, please urge them to contact me, at the above address, as soon as possible.

I am often not informed when a Veteran dies, and in these circumstances, I would like to extend my condolences to members of the families who receive this letter and apologise for any distress or inconvenience caused.  Should you be aware of any Veterans who have passed away recently, I would appreciate it if you would let me know so that I can amend our records and avoid any embarrassment.

We trust that you will accept this letter as a very cordial invitation to attend the Seventy-Seventh Reunion, but if, for any reason, you cannot be with us, your Committee would like to take this opportunity to wish you the very best of luck and good health for the future.

I look forward to seeing you at the Reunion.

With kindest regards

I am yours sincerely

Veteran Barry Powell

For those Friends who wish, the subscription application form may be downloaded in PDF format ready for printing by clicking here Reunion 2013 Ticket and Subs

We regret that we are, as yet, unable to accept electronic payments.

In Memoriam

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

A H G Bearman 1941
J E Brett 1952
J F Cowling 1966
R D Hayes 1940
G Lee 1942
W J Meehan 1953
A Pitches 1940
P G Webb 1941

This list was correct on 4 February 2013 and supersedes the list published on 31 December 2012.