This document was scanned, ocr'ed and slightly edited from the printed 'Dave's Gen'
DAVE'S GEN February 2003
A link for members of the former London Test Section who were based on Studd St
We are now in February so that means I have got to publish
another "Dave's GEN" this month. I will start off with part of the list
of colleagues who sent me Christmas Cards for which I thank you.
I am grateful for the monies and stamps but as I have mentioned before,
the GEN funds are quite adequate at the moment.
Brian Bale, Mike Bettenson, Ben Biggs, Ted Blanden, Cliff Bourne,
Len Bovingdon, Ted Brown, Stan Bristowe-Stone, Chris Broome-Smith,
Neil Caldecourt, Eric Clarke, Sam Coleman, Alee Collyer, Ron Cooper,
Jim Cross, Tony Darby, Ken Denny, Steve Dickens, Andy Ellen,
George Emberson, Mick Faulkner, Norman Frogett, Terry Griffiths,
Paul Hindell, Mick Johnson, Frank Kehoe, Walter Keen, Norman
Lawrence, Roy Lawrence, Brian Martin, Paul Mathew, Joe Molloy,
Stan Mitchell, Barry Moore, Arthur Monk, Joyce Muir, Joan Nye,
Alan Portch, Les Roberts, Cyril Rose, Brian Shillum, Frank Skinner,
Ken Stinton, John Sutton, Dave Stanford, Ron Tattam, John Towler,
Glen Travell, Roy Trussell, Harry Vincent, Dave Walton, Geoff
Wigley, Jim Wise, Hedley Warner, Jim Warner.
Now we have the brief extracts from the other Christmas Cards received
as well as Letters etc.
David May ... I have just started casual employment with Royal Mail at
Studd Street. I'm still looking for the ghost in the Basement. But of
course it's not cold enough for that these days. I was displeased with
what Royal Mail have done to the old building ...
David Oliver ... Thank you once again for "Dave's Gen" it is interesting
to hear about old colleagues ...
Denis Fisk ... Will get my BT Pension next year but I don't think I will
retire yet. Still Teaching ...
Olive & Frank Miller ... Thanks for the Gen. I seldom hear or see anyone
so it really does keep me up to date .. .
Mike Rogers ... Have "got into" computers and have too many now. If you
ever feel like going over to using one for the "Gen" give me a ring
lan Boniface ... Unfortunately the Crayford/Chislehursfc Christmas lunch
was called off this year as I had a heart attack in late October and have
been more or less out of action since. Cyril Seabrook had to have another
operation on his throat and was also unable to come so the rest of them
decided to cancel ...
Tom & Chris Halsey ... Another year goes by and still the "Gen" keeps
coming. Hope your health is good as mine is. Not so good for Chris, her
two years ill health turns out to be a chronic lung condition. No cure
but Physio twice a day could be worse I suppose. Its still nice to read
all the anecdotes from past colleagues, even if I never contribute
Vic Ware ... Keep up the good work Dave. I look for information about'
old friends and the "Gen" keeps me in touch. I send good wishes to all...
John & Christine Knight ... Was most upset to hear about Alan Turner.
Thanks for keeping Club Gen going. We are both guite well - but need a
little Physio on our backs. The gardening is catching up ...
Ossie ... I don't know whether I gave you our new address - we have come
back to Essex to be near family. We're now in Maldon and loving it. We
spent 25 glorious years in Somerset and now are enjoying Essex just as
much. Maldon still retains the feeling of a Town plus it has Thames Bar-
ges down on the sea (river) front.
We have just enjoyed a surprise week away for our 40th Wedding Anniversary
Our son and daughter arranged for us all plus lifelong friends, their
daughters and family to go to a Barn complex at Fakenham. It was really
enjoyable and a lovely surprise ...
Mike Tamblin ... In September I lost my wife, which was very sudden, and
left me shell-shocked. But life goes on and I am gradually coming to
terms with the fact ...
Reg Hooker ... Another year gone by. I'm sure the timescale has changed.
Nothing outstanding to report. I managed to get to the Albion. I'm defin-
itely getting old, there were many faces I recognised but couldn't put a
name to. A bit embarrassing when you realise it's a name you should have
remembered. I hope you are keeping well. Very many thanks for your effort
and time in producing the "Gen" I look forward to it ...
Arthur Snevin ... Another year gone, another year older, where does time
go? Thank you Dave for "Dave's Gen" through the year ...
Pete Perry ... Thanks for keeping the "Gen" going - much appreciated.
Vic Ware is spending Christmas with us this year;; ...
Bert & Jenny Turtle ... Bert is very frail, can't see or hear much and
can't remember things. He will be 91 in January ...
Bert Mead ... Thank you for keeping the "Club Gen" going ...
Mike Stanton ... I have spent this year slowing down since my Christmas
in Hospital. Still at work but not as much. Have had some nice restful
holidays this year, 2 weeks in Malta and a week in Amsterdam (a heady at-
mosphere from the cafes) Just to think we can now carry on working for-
ever. Looking forward to the next "Dave's Gen" ...
John Neil ... Thank you for the Gen. I went to the Albion and saw Ken
Denny, Roy Thurgood, Dave Coles, Glen Travell and many others ...
lan Torrance ... Hope 2003 will be a good one for all concerned. My eyes
and head are still a problem and just do a limited amount a day ...
Les Knightson ... Thanks for the "Gen" It makes interesting reading and
to know that so many of the LTS colleagues are enjoying retirement ...
Len Wise ... Many thanks for all your work on our behalf producing the
"Gen" - so good to hear again of old friends ...
Muriel Parr ... Many thanks for the "Gen" Do miss our Wednesday get-to-
gether with all the old friends ...
Gerry Bhagat ... Many thanks for "Dave's Gen" Hope you are well, for my-
self I am enjoying life in Norfolk, keeping fit walking the dog, playing
tennis. I am still working at the School for Special Educational Needs ..
Doreen Tilley ... Looking forward to Club Gen, so many names bring back
memories of Studd Street ...
Biddy & Gwen ... A few lines to wish you seasonal greetings and to thank
you for the Newsletter that I am able to share with Madge Jordan. She,
like me, has a bit of a mobility problem on occasions but we manage to
swop visits - My wife Gwl l»n and her are about the longest standing friends
that goes back to the days of Studd Street and Ma Hughes with 2 Cheese
Rolls and a pint of B Dairy Milk for 9d from the Bakers at 102 Upper
Street which seemed to be the midday snack of the Test Section around 60
years ago. The oven for the Bakers was coke fired and actually below the
pavement in 102 Upper Street, next to the Jewellers - Sorry my writing is
so bad but I've substaned a strained right wrist ...
Cyril Seabrook ... Another year I'm still playing bowls, badminton, keep-
ing an allotment going and going to keep fit at a local gym. One of the
best classes is Yoga laying horizontal contemplating. ...
Fred & Joan Petrie ... Thanks for keeping us all in touch through the
years. I'm sure that we are all very grateful to know how our old
friends are ...
Jim & Gven Beard ... Hoping yourself and Mother are keeping well. Many
thanks for keeping us in touch ...
Dick Wakefield ... Trust you are keeping well. Honor and I have just ret-
urned from three months in Aussie and we are feeling the cold ...
Sam Coleman ... Many thanks for your Club Gen. I enjoy reading it. There
are so many names to remember. May this be a Happy time for all this
coming year ...
Thanks to Dave Walton for sending me the humorous card depicting a (old?)
dog at a typewriter;
Jim Cross ... I'm still working for the Rail Passengers Committee,
Southern, based at the Strand. We now have a web site at
www.railpassengers.org.uk If anyone would like to send me an email my
email address is j im.crossOrail passengers.org.uk During my first year in
the RFC I managed to get £17,800 compensation for passengers in Southern
England. Which was the best ever in all the UK RPC's.
I was wondering if you were in contact with Paul Hindle, as he was in my
intake year and we share the same birthday. I believe he now lives in
Australia, would be nice to exchange emails if possible, (see page 6)
I read with interest the latest Dave's GEN and the comment by Jim Beard.
Yes, I do remember bumping into Jim at Heathrow. I was meeting my mum,
who was coming back from Canada, I believe. The only problem was that I
was on a day's sick leave but Jim promised to keep quiet. I also remem-
ber getting caught by Terry Clements in M&S a few years later, during the
day, when I was supposed to be working at home. Just got my first BT
Pension Christmas card, which reminded me that I was retired,! forgot.
Dave John ... You're not alone in the ills of ageing, although I have
not as yet had to consult the medics, other than the pneumothorax in
January. Aches and pains when rising from chair or bed are not uncommon.
and, of course the thinning of the thatch. Having bowed the head to an
arriving hearse yesterday, I was greeted with "Very nice of you to show
us your bald head". There's nothing wrong with having a haircut with a
hole in it ...
Ray Martin has informed me that Graham Fowler has been made redundant at
Fulcrum (former PO Factory) Bilton Way, Brimsdown early February.
So many things have happened since the last
issue it's a problem to assemble a collection
of chatty comment. Our thoughts must be with
any colleagues suffering from the weather. We
would like to share your news. We are on the
side of a modest rise (Hillside Close) and deep
puddles have happened in the garden from the main stream of water on its
way down to a lower level. Family health problems have caused concern
also, although I have escaped and enjoy the slowing down with age process.
I must now make a special mention and thanks to the Editor who was good
enough to use two photographs from my archives in the last issue. He did
his best but the photocopying machine that was available to him could not
cope. The one of special interest is the entrance to Studd Street. This
was a result of special work by my Son-in-Law with his computer on the
original version which he altered and improved by removing some obstruc-
tion in the foreground and improved the clarity of the print. He is a
wizard with this eguipment, he can also transpose a person from one pict-
ure and move it to a different background. There was a saying at one time
"a photograph cannot lie" no longer valid I am afraid. The main theme in
this issue then is comment on matters in past issues.
It may seem a bit gueer that, under this heading, I should make an apol-
ogy for misleading information, but it is relevant. I have made mentions
of riding a bike to the allotment. It could be thought I was either an
idiot or boasting. I am now in my 89th year, which is not the usual way
of stating my age 88 at my last birthday. This age business however puts
a brake on any tendency to be venturesome. The fact is I do not ride on
any A roads and only cross a guiet B road and use the pavements to reach
the paths on a nearby Common or Recreation Ground taking advantage of
gradients for coasting. I never search. Giving way to all walkers. The
journey is very therapeutic. The Common with its lake is one of the loc-
al treasures in an area where every spare acre is being developed and
lost (the main reason why the Wimbledon football club is moving to Milt-
on Keyes) I feel better now for all that.
Now for the gardening bit. In a perverse way I am pleased to report that
my great difficulty with Tomatoes and Onions last year was shared by
many experts and keen "lotty" neighbours. It was the weather and I bel-
ieve this was widespread. The Blue Tits were a disappointment also. They
started building their nest in the box but were disturbed by Starlings
trying to look inside by using the perch at the entrance. They were too
large of course and made a nest in Bill's roof which I have now cleared.
I will keep a watch again this year having removed the perch at the
NEWS AND VIEWS ON PREVIOUS COMMENTS
Pensions have become guite a topic in the news regarding their future.
I have not read any disturbing news so far in the "BT Today" magazine
circulated free to ex-Staff. It would be of interest to learn if any
readers do not receive this. How lucky we "V old types are, who receive
a pension from the old Engineering Department, especially, like myself
who had 40+ years of service. I have no news of the fate of the S.T.E.
The staff mentioned in "B.T. Today" are unrecognisable to me in relation-
ship. In my opinion we have nothing in common.
Regarding Solar Powered Lights, I have concluded they are a fad and not
likely to be of use. Even on the best sunny days, though short, neither
sample A or B has been activated for months.
That's it. Thank you for reaching this point in the text' It keeps my
little grey cells active as that well known TV character would say.
Keep in touch. Sarge.
It occurred to me that this month, January 2003, will be 12 years and one
month since I was made "home free" from BT. This was exactly one third of
the time I had worked for GPO/PO/BT - i.e. from September 1954 until Dec-
ember 1990 (or a guarfcer of the time since I first encountered the London
Test Section. Casting my mind back to the other thirds (quarters?) of
October 1966 and November 1978, I tried to recall what I was doing then.
On 29th October 1966 our elder daughter was born - and I could hardly
In November 1978, I was involved with the Parent-Teacher Association at
her secondary school and helping to produce a Santa's Grotto that would
rival - nay beat those to be found in the High Street. This was due to
the efforts of a "famous name" display manger who provided know-how and
enormous quantities of where-withall. I learned how to stretch felt over
a box so that no folds showed; and discovered the world of double-sided
sticky tape, and the staple gun. We are still friends, but I no longer
assist him with his Christmas productions which he creates for his grand
Work-wise in 1966 I would be found either in the Photometry Room, (What
would Health & Safety think of working with open terminals of 300v DC in
a room on my own, concealed by curtains?) or on Group 10 at Phoenix Tele-
phones, Colindale, or Associated Automation at Willesden.
Twelve years on found me as the 1978 version of Mr. Turtle - i/c appren-
tice training, where we all discovered electronics from co-valent elect-
rons to integrated circuits, with plenty of practical applications in-
cluding speed controllers for Scaletric cars (test track in room 325?)
Ah happy days - but I wouldn't swap them for my current life style for
I write in response to your request for info about Studd Street.
When I arrived at the front gate I was gobsmacked at what had happened
to the entrance as it had been blocked up and replaced by a Z-shaped
ramp with two side entrances for Royal Mail and Office staff alike.
Down in the basement where the cold damp used to be is now replaced by
warm air and temporary lighting giving way to a Gym and Video Exchange.
Where the Basement Workshop used to be has now been ripped out and re-
placed with a work area. There is not a lot I can say about Jimmy Beard's
Store which was full of discarded cleaners bags and beer barrels in the
lift corner. The former BT Bosses Offices are boarded up and left to rot.
Next to all this is the Canteen and the food is appalling as most of the
Royal Mail staff and Xmas casuals learn to bring their own sandwiches.
When I looked at the Bungalow it was unused and no sign of life as I
thought it would be. The building has crumbled through the shock of heavy
traffic and soon SS will close for good.
A SECRET NO MORE
There were many places in Britain during World War 2 that remained secret
and out of bounds to most ordinary folk.
Salisbury Hall at London Colney, near St.Albans off the B556 and M25
junction 22, was the place where De Havilland designed and developed the
first Mosquito aircraft in 1940. The manufacture of these fast wooden
machines went into production at Hatfield, later to become Aerospace.
Although the House is private, there are buildings and a Museum which
houses the prototype Mosquito bomber and a Collection of other De Havil-
and aircraft and engines. Another secret place, which is now well known
today, is Bletchley, home to the giant Egnima decoding machine, essential
for translating messages sent by German intelligence to their armed forces.
During the War Britain was divided up into zones and within these boundar-
ies there were a number of secret bunkers. They were all in touch with
one another by having their own telephone exchanges and communication
systems. These underground stations were extended to deal with the threat
of Soviet activities and perhaps Nuclear War in the 1960's. Now obsolete,
many of these fortress type establishments are open to the public and
there are two bunkers in Essex to visit.
I paid a visit to the one sited at MISTLEY, near Manningtree, north-east
from Colchester. Walking along the corridors one can visit many of the
rooms containing displays and equipment of all kinds. There were plotting
rooms, administration rooms, scientist's rooms and power installations
and it gave one an insight of a different world below the surface. The
bunkers were controlled and run by the Government and Civil Service pers-
onnel rather than the Military, although the armed services had represen-
tations on site. There were sound effects and screens giving programmed
information about the activity that went on.
The underground bunker at KELVEDON HATCH, off the A128 Brentwood - Ongar
road, is even a much larger concern than Mistley. It is situated 100 ft.
below ground containing three storeys with tons of equipment, dormitories,
sick bay and admin. rooms employing 600 personnel at the time of the cold
war period. It is interesting to see the old type of telephones, tele-
printers and the cord and plug and dolls-eye switchboards on display
which brought back memories of the time when the repair and testing of
these instruments, now antiques, was done at the P.O. Factory at
.Brimsdown. So these places are well worth a visit.
NEWS FROM GREEN PASTURES
It has been an interesting year and on reflection one in which we have
been blessed with "getting established in our new home area"
This appropriately started off with a drinks party at our neighbour's
home Richard and Joan. They, like our other neighbours, are fellow mem-
bers of Wraxall Church. School started for me on January 8th with a test
and then promotion on to one of the bigger School Buses serving on a new
"run", to and from Clifton. Elizabeth was not to be outdone and continues
to do her largely one day a week job in nearby Clevedon. As regards
Church she serves on the Parochial Church Council and I have been asked
to assist at the Eucharist occasionally.
Socially, there have been a number of landmarks, a B.T. Reunion in New-
port, a very happy and entertaining Church Harvest Supper, lunch with
friends at their Croquet Club, and a Skittles evening out. Elizabeth has
now been asked to stand on the Committee of Clevedon Flower Club and tak-
en part in a Flower Festival in neighbouring Yatton.
Concerts at the Police H.Q. performed by H.M.Royal Marines, orchestral
outing to the Colston Hall, and the Theatre at "The Tobacco Factory" and
Bristol Old Vie, have been notable times. This is not to forget one even-
ing when we ventured out and "found" our nearest local pub, a pretty and
somewhat rustic establishment hidden away behind the Wraxall Manor Hotel.
In order to indulge my nostalgia for the past I was able to visit an ex-
hibition at Bristol Museum featuring the cartoon character "Dan Dare". It
was a real blast from the past to be confronted there with an example of
my old pride and joy "An Interplanetary Space Station" Which brings us
neatly back to children's matters as I prepare to don my Santa's Hat to
say good-bye to my school charges as they are about to go off on their
David and Elizabeth Walton.
Just a short note to thank you once again for the newsletter, as always
I enjoyed the latest issue with its news of old friends and colleagues.
Although I gather you intend to stay firmly in the pen and sheets of
paper era some of us have managed to keep abreast of the times and em-
brace the world of computers and the internet. Your readers may not know
but there is an internet site called Friendsreunited out there.
The main intention of the site is to allow old school friends to get back
in contact but it also allows you to enter details of your past or pres-
ent work place.
There are about 18 ex-Studd Street names on the site but in typical LTS
style they are spread between four different work place names.
There are 10 under BTQA, 6 under Studd Street, 1 under LMS and 1 under
COG. There may well be others at different work place addresses. It would
be nice if a few more readers joined us. It would also be nice if we got
our act together and all agreed which work place we all went to.
The address is in the above title.
OUR OZ SAGA
Thanks for my copy of the Gen, the wife Beryl has read through it also
and although she only knows a few of the names mentioned she does enjoy
the contact as she worked at BT Factories Enfield.
Anyway, the OZ saga continued: We arrived in Melbourne Feb 2002 with a
three month visa, staying with our daughter who had returned to Australia
October 2000 with her husband and two boys, our Grandchildren, who we
missed terribly. Just before we left England, having had the necessary
Dental and Optical treatment (it's one of those things that is expensive
over here), the day before in fact, wide received a letter from the Austr-
alian Commission asking us to have our medical examinations carried out.
So, on arrival in OZ our priority was to get that organised with the imm-
igration people over here. Only to find that it works out a fraction of
the price compared to the UK. The Oriental doctor having asked me about
my hernia operation kept looking at me in a strange way. Eventually after
all the bending and stretching embarrassingly in ones underdaks he asked
me where the scar from the operation was. This alarmed me to the compet-
ence of this doctor as the hernia was an Umbilical and therefore there
was no visible scar. Did he not know the difference or was it just not
his field. Either way when all he could find wrong with me was "OBESITY"
which he wrote in capitals on the report, I could only laugh. At 50 I'm
fit but overweight, hey I'm happy with it.
This completed, our next priority was to get tickets for the Grand Prix.
A fantastic day, the youngest Grandson falling asleep as soon as both his
yellow (Jordan's) cars dropped out. We enjoyed our 3 month stay doing all
the tourist things, Phillip Island Kangaroo sanctuaries etc. and returned
to the UK to meet up with old friends, Mick Hitchman, Richard Skidmore,
and Dave Sheppard to name a few that you may all know. Four weeks later
returning to OZ to find that our daughter had moved to a larger house so
we had a bit more space.
This trips priority was to visit Immigration to see about a long stay
visa, having in the mean time been allocated a queue date from the Aust-
ralian Commission. This just meant that our application had been accepted
and we were in the queue awaiting immigration dates. This still means a
four year wait. We obtained a one year visa, then went out and bought our-
selves a little car and house, and set ourselves up as "Plastic Austral-
ians" We have since received a letter from the OZ Commission our queue
date is down to two and a half years already. We return to the UK in June
2003 where we will have to apply for another one year visa.
What we have discovered is that if in the beginning w^f had applied for
residency while in Australia on our first Holiday we would have been gran-
ted an automatic four year visa while awaiting the processing of our app-
lication. Anyone thinking of Immigration should use an agent in the UK
for advise, and not as we did, off your own backs.
Looking back neither of us regret what we have done. We are enjoying our
retirement over here, everyone is so friendly and helpful. The only thing
apart from friends and family that we both miss is a good argument with
an irate shopkeeper. Whatever your gripe with a purchase, returned to the
vendor, even if just a stall at a regular market, and satisfaction.is
guaranteed. "Yes sir, no worries. Do you want your money back or a repl-
acement?" And you are all ready for a debate about the legalities of sell-
ing inferior products all those negotiation courses are laying waste. A
good holiday in the UK will cure that.
The Bali Bombings had a great effect on the people over here. Even we
know someone who didn't return. This is a large country but a small comm-
unity. I'd go as far to say that it's a little bit of heaven
Will write again to keep you in touch with the other side of the World.
PS. Recommend "BILL BRYSON" "DOWN UNDER" it's a good read.
Still Swimming at 70+
Still hopefully keeping reasonably fit by swimming regularly with the
Hartham Masters Swimming Club. Our trainer put myself forward to compete
in the Hertfordshire Masters Gala in June, he reckoned that I could do
well in my age group (70 - 74) so I thought that I would go along for
Would you believe it I got two gold medals, one for the 50 metres free-
style and the other for the 50 metre back stroke. When I looked up the
printed results there was B.R.T. against my times. On enquiry that meant
Best Recorded Time ever for Hertfordshire in my age group. (Of course
that may mean that no other old bugger would bother)
However, little did I know that this result would get me a letter to tell
me I have been selected to swim for Hertfordshire in the Southern Count-
ies Masters Gala in November so I gave it a go. Venue was at Borehamwood
and I ended up swimming in four 50 metres medleys and an individual 50
metres back stroke. No medals this time but Hertfordshire came fourth
out of eight counties. Perhaps I helped a little.
So there you are John Reynolds, here is another "old un" that achieves
something in the sporting world.
West to East
Just a line to let you know that Ann and I have returned from the wilds
of Somerset to the green hills of Essex.
We thought we'd like to be nearer the family for a change and in fact be
very close to our daughter and her family. We really enjoyed our time in
the West Country but since we've been back we've found ourselves really
Maldon is a very old port on the river Blackwater and is home to a numb-
er of Thames Barges. The Town has retained lots of its original features
and it has a long promenade along the river which is extremely popular
even in the middle of winter. People literally "Promenade" up and down.
We had our 40th Wedding anniversary in December and our "children" arr-
anged for us to go to Fakenham for a week - unbeknown to us they also
arranged for our friends of 40 years and also plus their daughter, who
attended our wadding, in a carry cot. Lovely surprise and thoroughly en-
Ann & Derek Oswald
HOLIDAYS & PLUMBING
Wendy and I are going to Tony & Olivias for Christmas and often talk
about Studd Street and the "Old Days" (don't we all!)
Further update on owning a Skoda, in my opinion it's quite a good car
three years old now and so far so good, only trouble was with one of the
Electric windows but with 3 years warranty & servicing it hasn't cost a
penny, so can recommend the make.
We still spend our Holidays in Germany & Austria touring, but we use our
posh car and not the Skoda, not enough room for Wendy's luggage, also to
bring back Wine & Beer, so we need the larger car. I am still keeping up
with my German language, one evening a week at my Tutors, certainly
makes a difference when you can speak the language of the Country you in.
Recently, I have practising my plumbing skills in the Bathroom that Roger the Dodger (Glover) taught me all those years ago. He certainly was a Friend
in Need in 1976. I think that Roger would be proud of his Pupil now, a
completely new Bathroom, Bath, Toilet, separate shower etc. Wendy was
very grateful of his help in '76, he came at 10 a.m. and did not leave
until 3 o'clock in the night helping to replace most of the plumbing
including Hot Tank (I think that should be me helping "Him")
Brian & Wendy Martin.
TV FAME/MEMORIES OF ISLINGTON
Didn't send one of those round robins to my relatives last year - nothing
really significant to share with them. 2002 hasn't been all that brill-
iant either, except I became a TV star for a full five minutes during May
when I was interviewed in a programme called "Doodlebug Summer" The int-
erview was about the family home in Harringay being attacked by two
doodlebugs on the same day and, in a later episode, - there were six in
all - I was also quizzed about a third attempt by Hitler to get me (act-
ually it was five attempts, in total) this time through a rocket next to
my school. I can assure you that fame hasn't gone to my head, although I
did receive one letter from someone who had worked with me at BT Head-
quarters many years previously. Joyce and I are in the throes of giving
up all our voluntary work, as both of us are no longer very fit. Joyce's
heart problems have returned nine years after the bypass treatment and
the diabetes has worsened. However, angioplasty, possibly in the New Year
may be the answer. We hope for the best.
Leading on from the last two editions of the "GEN", firstly, may I ask
how your face appeared on the stamp in February. I presume you had to
pay big bucks for the privilege? (The "Smiler" stamps cost £35 for a 100
sheet, i.e. 35p for a 19p stamp. I suppose they were bought from the
Philatelic Bureau. Ed) Secondly, my thanks to the contributor of the
photos of Studd Street gates and the tram in Upper Street. Many's the
lunchtime I stood watching the man who slid the power pick-ups under the
trams when they reached the junction of Upper Street and Essex Road at
Islington Green. (Up to that point the tram got its power from its over-
head pole on the wire. Ed) I always hoped he would pull the points lever
at the wrong time and send a tram into Upper Street that should have
turned into Essex Road but he never made a mistake while I was watching.
Seeing the gates of Studd Street, reminded me for some obscure reason of
the "pink" petrol panic. As far as I can recall, someone on the staff
was discovered by the police to have pink petrol in his private car and
this could have only come from the pumps supplying the delivery vans. A
rumour quickly flashed around Studd Street that as a result the police
were going to carry out an exhaustive search throughout the building for
stolen property. Some sort of panic ensured - why, I don't know - but I
believe the proposed search turned out to be a false alarm. Finally,
would you assure Len Wise that I remember him well (see Feb.GEN). We mig-
rated to "Traffic" at about the same time (when it was promotion from TO
and a fifteen year wait for an A.E.Board) and I believe he moved out to
Ipswich or Norwich TMO where I bumped into him later during a PO HQ in-
MY TIME IN LTS & ITS OUTSTATIONS
I joined the London Test Section as a Youth in Training in 1953 and was
looked after on the Training Group by Bert Turtle and John Damiral. In
that year's intake was our illustrious Editor, Brian Bale, Derek Oswald,
Brian Shillum, Brian Conroy, Lewis Lynch, Tony Barulis and others now
lost in the myths of time like Glen Smythe and Ramon Howell? Please note
no nicknames used.
During the first two years we roamed the corridors of Studd Street being
trained in the mysteries of many techniques and sciences and I ended up
in such areas as Teleprinters, Photometry, TN Room, Physical Measurements
(Group 5) and Clocks and Watches with Frank Lecore (Group 29?). Having
come from a Technical School whose major function was to train Watchmakers
I was in my element.
Memory Test No.1. What was the name of the Albino who worked next to Alf
Sherwood in the TN Room testing 3000 Type Relays?
The next two years I spent in the RAF at Gafcow in Berlin on a Transmitter
Station which housed the Radio Beacons for the three Air Corridors into
Berlin from the West. This was before they built the "Wall".
Returning to the LTS, I spent time on various Outstations such as Holloway
Factory, Brimsdown Factory and Kidbrooke, meeting a cross section of the
colourful characters our Department was justly proud. I am sure you also
know them, although one mental case stands out "Stan Wootton" and his
parapet antics at Studd Street, still stands out as the stupidest stunt I
encountered, in light of the death of one of the Factory Mechanics who
impaled himself on the railings. At the end of my time in LTS, I remember
working in Group 40 carrying out repairs on Oscilloscopes and Waveform
Generators with Brian Martin, Dave Coles, Tom Halsey, Jim Barfoot etc.
Memory Test No.2. What was the name of the elderly gentleman at Holloway
Factory who repaired Meggers at the back of the Test Room?
In 1970 I decided that I would move out of London and took my wife Rene
and two children Sharon and Craig to the Outstation based in Liverpool.
We went with the cries of fellow colleagues "you must be mad" But I can
now reveal that I had an Interest Free loan from the good old GPO, repay-
able over 10 years. This covered 10 of the purchase price of our new
home on the Wirral.
I now meet a new list of colourful characters, not all of them working
for the Test Section. Among this motley crew were the likes of Trevor Powell. Vic Evans, Billy Slocombe and latter Charlie Woolley, all were to
play a part in my working life at other locations. The activities of this
group were masterminded by a gruff guy from Lincolnshire, namely Jack
Woodthorpe. My new working world included the Plessey manufacturing sites
in the Lancashire Vale, places like Wigan, Chorley, and Kirby together
with three sites in Liverpool. This was supplemented with trips to other
GPO suppliers in North Wales such as STC Rhyl and DFM at Bangor. A few
years latter I was joined in the group by a shy introvert, from the LTS
called Melvin Ellis.
With Industrial trouble brewing at the Outstation, I managed to get anoth-
er transfer to South Wales and was based at a GEC factory on an Industr-
ial site outside Cardiff. This was Treforest, some 20 miles from the
Group headquarters at the Newport Cable Works of STC. In this Group were
other ex LTS emigrants such as Pete Perry, Sid Miller, and an ex Cable
Test member Stan Webb. This group was cross fertilised with Birmingham
Test outcasts and a selection of local itinerants. We all worked happily
under an EE called Joe Baker. No praise of the "Gentle Man" can be too
high. In came all the changes of work practices, we went from Product
Inspector to manufacturing process auditors. There was the introduction
of Field Force, so on and so forth. Now I was not based at one factory
but required to spend time at various sites. Monday at a Foundry over the
production of Footway Covers, Tuesday at a Manufacturing site producing
state of the art Digital Exchange Equipment, Wednesday at a Cable Works,
and Thursday at a firm printing signs on Glass, Friday was the Team Meet-
ing which agreed the next week's travels. Varied and interesting was the
kindest way to describe this life and we met a real cross-section of soc-
iety. Worn out cars were replaced by new ones thanks to the Mileage Rate.
The Welsh marauders even made incursions into the South West of England
which had tried to declare Independence and was ruled from Bridgewater
by ex LTS Bill Walker, Derek Oswald etc. I was able to get into the thief-
dom of Plymouth, which had been ruled for many years by ex LTS Hermit
called Brian Bale. Foreign Travel was all part of the job, flying out
from Cardiff(Rhoose) on Monday and returning from Amsterdam on Friday.
The GPO had become Post Office to be privatised into BT and the authority
and responsibility vested on the "Field Force" staff was written into the
contracts, with the staff deployed in the main to Group Procurement Serv-
ices based in Swindon. I ended up living out of a suitcase, whilst work-
ing for a Buying Group sourcing Test Eguipment under a buyer called Colin
Bennett. He was another "Gentle Man", well liked and supported by his
staff. In this job, I was required to roam all over the UK and thanks to
the Mileage Rates old worn out cars were again replaced by new ones.
Although I was not directly affected by "Sovereign" still being a lowly
TO, it produced pressure on budgets which created an opportunity for me
to make, what was my final move within BT. I got a job in the local Card-
iff Area in the Planning Office. This was at a time when major projects
were to be carried out in the Area. Instead of all travelling I could
leave my home and get a bus to be at my desk in less than 30 minutes. My
wife had been working in the centre of Cardiff as an Advertising Execut-
ive for many years with a private car park facilities sited next to Gods
Half Acre as the locals called the pitch at Cardiff Arms Park. I worked
in Stadium House, from which on the 15th floor one could see most of the
National Stadiums playing surface. Overtime on Match Days was popular.
Rene and I both left work on the 30th March 1996 and still wonder how we
ever found time to go. We held a joint leaving Bash in the centre of the
City at a hostelry then called the Guildhall Tavern. This went down well
with both sets of working colleagues. I left the Company 43 years after
my first walked into Studd Street and at the age of 58. A voluntary ret-
irement package has allowed us to live modestly. Joe Baker had requested
me to gather his "Old Boys" together once a year and this I have done
each year just after Christmas at the Greyhound Inn, Newport. Numbers
have dropped in recent years due to the demise of well remembered coll-
eagues. But new members are joining with the addiction of Derek Crane,
John Tithe who are resident of South Wales and Dave Walton from across
the Seven Estuary. As usual we will meet in the third week of January.
Please contact me with the answers to my memory test as I can only remem-
ber the faces, but not their names.
2002 AN EVENTFUL YEAR
Thanks once again for your efforts. Unlike you I am multifingered perfor-
ming on a keyboard - more often or not an annoying tremor takes over and
my fingers dance over the keys, usually more wrong than right:
An eventful year for us: In May our boiler blew up and my wife had a cat-
aract operation. In June some 80 folk helped us celebrate our Diamond
Wedding, and Peg had her second cataract operation. She was then able to
see me clearly and it came as an awful shock to her - she thought I look-
ed like a film star. I think it was Karloff she mentioned;: When she got
over this trauma, in early September we employed a well recommended plum-
ber to undertake a new boiler installation - still ongoing: After fire,
flood and demolition (I joke not) we finally concluded his initial train-
ing was as a butcher, and have had to employ others to rectify his eff-
orts, work which will take us into 2003:
I have developed blood pressure, mainly due I am sure to the stress. Also
my PSA has soared and I am to resume prostrate cancer injections(Zolodex
anyone else on it?) after Christmas.
At 82 I do 4 miles every morning on my exercise bike - since falling off
a ladder when 44 distance walking/running is out so I cannot compete with
young John Reynolds;; I have to leave it to my second son to run mara-
thons. I know none of the contributors to the October 'GEN' (exceptSarge)
but what interesting tales they can tell - especially Ralph Somerville,
he has developed an unusual complaint:: I was sorry to hear about Bill
Martin, when we came down here to Mudeford we visited Bill and his wife
at Westmoors? and John Damiral, he arrived at Studd Street not long after
me, I think.
Well Dave, that's 2002 done, and it only remains to wish you a Happy New
TALL OAKS FROM LITTLE ACORNS GROW
This was the favourite motto of Arthur Gamage who hung up this motto
above his Counter in his first shop at Holborn in 1878.
He was 20 when he went to get a watch repaired at Hatton Garden and not-
iced a tiny empty shop next door which he later rented at £220 p.a. a
tidy sum of money in those days. Gamage had a good business sense and
bought items to resell at a lower price than elsewhere. The popular scoop
in those early days were hair brushes made of wire bristle set in rubber
and sold for l/9d each. In his first year of trading he showed a profit
and he never ever looked back.
He was the first to cut costs on goods which did not endear him to other
traders. The publicity made Gamage expand and when other shops became
vacant he bought them and by 1904 the whole block covering 2 acres became
a vast emporium which became the peoples' choice to go and browse and buy
a-bargain. Gamages claimed to be able to sell any item and all things
could be ordered and sent by post anywhere, all that is, other than ammun-
ition and explosives.
It was the main store convenient for the City and Fleet Street apart from
stores like Selfridges in the West End. It was a great place for all
those who worked nearby to pop in and spend their lunch hour wandering
around the vast rabbit warren of rooms and departments linked at differ-
ent levels by slopes, steps and a labyrinth of passageways. Often a cust-
omer spent ages finding the appropriate department he wanted and the long-
er he spent finding it the more likely he was distracted to buy some oth-
er bargain as well. The store incorporated such items as furniture, car-
pets, kitchen equipment, motor car parts, electrical goods, tools, tele-
graph apparatus, billiard tables, greenhouses and a roomful of perambul-
ators. Through the maze you would find a place stocked with paraffin,
paint and fertilisers and adjoining it was one of the largest and most
complete zoological departments anywhere. With no exaggeration Gamages
sold anything from Goats, Porcupines, Chimpanzees, 12 inch Alligators,
Waltzing Java Mice to varieties of tropical birds, skinks, cats and
hedgehogs. There were toys, games and hobbies sections. Gamages claimed -
they could supply anything and sent anywhere in the world - even to Hong
Kong sending a 3 Ib parcel for 1/- (one shilling) in 1920.
The vast conglomeration carried on until 1970 when it closed with much
nostalgia poured into the National Press. At its height the company pro-
duced a 964 page catalogue, 15 pages alone advertised Jokes, Wigs, Beards,
Tricks and Puzzles.
Due to redevelopment of the City, Gamages moved from Holborn to the Old
Waring & Gillows store in Oxford St but was not a success finally closed
in 1972 after nearly 100 years of trading.
I was very disappointed that I could not get to the Albion meet-up in
December due to me waking up with a streaming cold.
However, Ken Denny has kindly supplied me with a list of those attending.
John Barulis, Mick Bettenson, Ken dark, Pete Cleaver, Terry Clements,
Dave Coles, Jim Cross, Ken Denny, Mel Ellis, Trevor Ford, Andy Hold-
away, Reg Hooker, Dennis Laing, Mick Mariani, Stan Mitchell, John
Neil, Ray Potter, John Reynolds, Cyril Rose, Roy Thurgood, Glen
Travell, Dave Walton, Hedley Warner, Pete West and Geoff Wigley.
Terry Griffiths phoned me in early December to let me know that he is
in touch with Harry Shelvey. Only the old uns would know these gentlemen.
I have scraped the barrel but cannot find any more news for you, so I
have had to leave a small blank space:
Dave Fairhurst, 31 Roedean Avenue, Enfield, Middx. EN3 5QJ 020 8804 1959
This site, http://www.ltssac.org/ © LTSSAC