Newsletter 2011

The 74th Veterans Reunion

The 74th annual Veterans’ Reunion at the Marconi Athletic & Social Club in Beehive Lane took place last year on Saturday 17th April. Our president for the year was Veteran Ron Bradbrook, formerly Engineering Manager, Broadcast Transmitters, MCSL and the guest of honour retired Chief Superintendent George Harris of Essex Police.

Ron Bradbrook fleshed out Veteran Raymond Rowe’s introductory resumé of his career with interesting and amusing anecdotes of a working life of over 45 years with Marconi, spent principally in designing high power broadcast transmitters and commissioning them in a number of corners of the globe. Picking out a couple of the amusing anecdotes, there was the time following a transmitter installation in Singapore when Alfie Amos, on a posting as the resident guarantee engineer, rescued a mangy station cat from the transmitter cabinet, where it had got itself locked in for some considerable time, to the relief of the cat which revived soon after its ordeal, but to the dismay of the Chinese staff who saw themselves denied a culinary delicacy. Then there was the time spent in communist Romania where the local food was so dreadful, but the lives of the team were made bearable when food parcels, or rather, packing cases full of food, arrived from the company. Ron closed by saying that it had been a privilege to work in an exciting job for over 40 years with such a great bunch of engineers in Broadcast, Comms, TV and latterly Space and Microwave.

Guest of honour George Harris was introduced by our chairman, Veteran Peter Turrall, as someone who had spent over 35 years of his working life as a ‘copper’, principally in CID – a local newspaper once reported that ‘he was responsible for most of the major crime in Essex!’ He has also spent a lengthy period post-retirement from the police, fund-raising for Farleigh Hospice. Having a retired policeman as our guest of honour linked into the year’s theme – the role that wireless technology has played in the support of policing.

George remembered a police career commencing in the ‘Met’, and a few years later, needing the better accommodation for a young family that the county offered, transferring to Essex where he remained until his retirement in 1988. He was involved in a variety of prominent criminal investigations throughout his career, and a number of notorious names and cases were recalled – the Richardsons, Alfie Hinds, the murder of Tony Mafia, the Jeremy Bamber case.

Dealing with some lighter moments during his time as a beat officer based at Nevendon police station, he told of the team of north London decorators who, engaged to do a rush–job redecoration at Carreras factory in anticipation of a visit by the Duke of Edinburgh, managed to stash away a significant quantity of cigarettes in their van during the weekend, and of the plasterer who, the same weekend was supposed to be plastering the boardroom but instead got himself well and truly plastered with most of a bottle of Drambuie from the drinks cabinet.

As has been usual at recent reunions a coaster was produced to mark a centenary. In this case it commemorated the role played by Marconi wireless telegraphy equipment in the discovery and subsequent arrest in 1910 of Dr Hawley Harvey Crippen on board the transatlantic liner SS Montrose.