Newsletter 2010


As in previous years, a number of letters are from correspondents seeking information about former colleagues, for research into their family history, or for the preparation of articles, books, etc. If no contact detail appears with the letter then please direct your reply or any correspondence for the enquirer to: Barry Powell, Secretary, Marconi Veterans’ Association, 22 Juliers Close, Canvey Island, Essex, SS8 7EP; 01268 696342;
or to the editor, Ken Earney, 01245 381235; email

Certain items in this issue, particularly on this and the next page, are responses to letters or articles appearing in the 2009 edition which have already been posted during the last eleven months on the website. There is thus an inevitable but necessary duplication catering for those Veterans who have no possibility, or wish, to use the internet.

Finally note that, to avoid unnecessary repetition of the Association’s name in full, the initials MVA have in places been used.

More reports of social and cultural activities please
From Alan Hartley-Smith, June 2009

Many thanks for the set of newsletters received today – I’ve just scanned through the lot and totally disappeared down memory lane!

It is a good happen-stance that first I discovered MOGS and then that I could now join the Veterans having previously missed out on the 25 year rule. I hope to contribute
some reminiscences of my technical career (I worked one-on-one with RF O’Neill, and with Roy Simons at Baddow) and I have some related souvenirs. Unfortunately I
relatively recently passed on some stuff to the RAF ADRM at Neatishead, so you may care to contact them to at least be aware of what they have, and incidentally, a link-up with them could be a useful attribute (see www.radarmuseum. as much Marconi equipment is installed and demonstrated there, so well worth an article. I noted that an item by Roy on the DH&D Labs at Baddow is in the contributions backlog, which could be associated with this.

Could I suggest that, as mention has already been made of two extra-mural activities, namely sailing and bowls, others could also be featured, as Marconi folk both in the many clubs within the MASC and round the town contributed more than generally appreciated to the cultural and social life of Chelmsford – in my case it was through the Marconi Dramatic Society (mention of Joan Wrigley stirred that memory – she was Secretary in my time). I still have posters, programmes and other bits and pieces that could go to the museum, and I know other members are still around. Also, several of us contributed considerably to the Chelmsford Arts Festival’s fifteen year run, another unique event for which I still have records.

Wartime work at Marconi’s, Chelmsford
From David Townsend, Doncaster, November 2009

Can anyone help with David Townsend’s appeal. The book ‘Marconi at war’ has already been recommended to him.

My mother Dorothy Lewis was sent to work at the Marconi factory in Chelmsford during the war (1942 I think) when she turned 18 years old.

She has recently expressed a desire to find any information of life at home during the war and I have been looking into this. I am writing to you in the hope you may be able to point out some documentation such as a book or booklet or even film which may specifically include the vital work carried out by people such as ‘Mum’ during those desperate times in our recent history.

You may contact me via email.

Many thanks for your help.

If you wish to contact David by E-mail please use the Contacts page on this site and the message will be forwarded.  We do not publish private addresses on the site to reduce the risks of spam.  Webmaster.

EMI Tower
From John Pearce, March 2009

Re the article by Arthur Barton in number 11, I worked at EMI from 1953 to 63 and knew the tower well. We were told that it was used as a practice bomb-aiming target for the H-bombers forming our nuclear deterrent. This caused some anxiety whenever a con-trail appeared!

Can any ex-H-bomber crew member corroborate this tale? Ed

Postscript to the EMI Tower article
From Arthur Boyd-Barton

I worked at Marconi Basildon for 23 years as Barton, retiring in August 1990. Family history searches linked me to Charles Boyd, Surveyor General of Customs, died 1857.  There is an electrical connection too, all great-greatgrandfather’s belongings were lost en-route to London due to a lightning strike (nothing to do with trade unions). Best wishes to those who remember me.

Memories of Building 46
From Tony Curtis, 27 February 2009

I was surprised and delighted to see my memories of the time spent with the Marconi Company, Chelmsford, included in the 2009 Newsletter.  I take great personal satisfaction in being lucky to be have been associated with the engineers I worked with there.

Arnold Weinstock and Brian Skingley
From Prof Bernard de Neumann, Feb 2009

Anyone’s management style should not be above criticism and making official oral reports should never be an easy ride. I too, in common with Keith Chittenden and John Williams, think that Weinstock’s strategy was not the best, but one has to admit that it did work, which is more than can be said for that of Simpson, Hurn and Mayo whose joint unfettered ambitions and deceptions destroyed Marconi plc. During Weinstock’s time the City was reportedly envious of GEC’s carefully accumulated and nurtured large hoard of cash which Simpson et al set  about squandering.

Tony Curtis’s piece ‘Dimming the lights on Building 46’ reminded me that I did some mathematical work for Brian Skingley on multi-channel communication channels, which eventually led to the computer software MODSIM. MODSIM (Modulation Simulator), developed at Gt Baddow, was widely used around Marconi/GEC and was one of the first ‘engineering software’ systems to utilize the Fast Fourier Transform algorithm.

Did the company use Maldon West station as a store?
From Brian Pask, Ilford, January 2010

I am at present working on articles for publication by the Great Eastern Railway Society on the railway from Maldon to Woodham Ferrers and have come across a reference to your company using the disused station buildings at Maldon West for storage. Is it possible to confirm from your records that this use did in fact take place?

If so, could you say roughly when this was? It must have been some time between 1939, when Maldon West station closed to passengers, and early 1954, when the buildings were demolished. Could you also confirm whether it was the platform buildings or the booking office at street level which were used, or both?

Barry Powell has explained to Brian Pask that, because of the company’s convoluted history due to mergers, restructuring and so on over the years it is highly unlikely that records of this time exist, except perhaps in the memories of some Veterans. Would anyone who can help please contact Mr Pask, through Barry Powell in the first instance?