Now that you have had a long rest after reading the February GEN (Yawn!) I think it is time that you a11 woke up for another dose of reading. Looklng throgh my box of old GENS I was surprised that I had been publishing "Dave's GEN" since November 1988.
Before then, I published the "CLUB GEN" using our Social Club funds, from Summer 1978 when I took over as Editor from Stan Brede at his retirement.
He had been our Social Club Hon. Sec. who was able to book a lot of Social Club time to his typing! However, my one finger typing has always been done at home. I have a feeling that this issue of the GEN will have a lot of pages. Thanks chaps!
Ron Cooper ... I thought that I would bring you up to date with events in
my life following the death of my wife in September 2003 after 53 years
of marriage. My two daughters have now moved away to Berkshire arfer
living within my locality all of their life, both having purchased a four
bedroom detached house within 20 minutes drive of each other so it's not too far for me to visit and stay. I really wondered what had hit me so soon after my wife's death.
However, on a more pleasant note I now have a new partner in my life, Maureen was my wife's best friend and we have known each other for the last 40 years having bought up our children together. Sadly she lost her husband Harry some years ago, but we are now together as a couple and we are so compatlble and alike to life that it is wonderful to be together with the blessing of both our families.
Still swimming three times a week, and entered for the third time to the Hertfordshire Masters Gala at Borehamwood where again I managed to q^t 3 breasG'rnk ? the 75 to 79 age group. For the 50 metre backstroke and breaststroke I was just a few tenths of a second faster than last years time, but in the freestyle event I knocked four seconds off my best time last year. Perhaps I am not going downhill just yet. Fifteen clubs competed in the event and to the pleasure of all my club members, Hartham Masters came second, much to the delight of our coach.
Finally, I am off to California in October with Maureen and her daughters family, something for me to look forward to.
Mike Tamblin ... In the last issue of 'Dave's GEN' in Willie's Whimsies (memory jottings) page 6, Bill asked if anyone remembers the khaki dust coats which used to be issued. I can do better than remembering them because I still have mine which were issued to me in the early 1940's. They are still intact but I have used them for years when decorating and odd jobbing and they are now truly "coats of many colours'" This speaks very well for the quality of material used for these coats. I also recall on Group 3, when Bill Sarg. appeared in his white dustcoat which drew shouts from the less reverent members of the group of "Pound of Sausages Please".
Dave John ... I must apologise for the long delay in writing to you As
you know, my wife was taken ill at the beginning of last year with a vertigo related illness and was in hospital for 10 days up to May 2nd.
Since then, it's been a series of hospital and doctor visits and it would appear that she has Meniere's Disease as originally thought, but has prob- ably had some mini strokes as well. The bottom line is that life has become one long trek from home to work all week, and then to Essex at the weekend. It's not difficult to understand that little else has happ- ened that's worth reporting.
Thank you for the last 'GEN'. When I took the early retirement, it was my intention to make a completely clean break, which I did until I received a letter from yourself. You only have to look at the long list of ex-LTS people that still keep in touch through yourself and the GEN to realise what a tremendous esprit-de-corps existed within the Section, one sadly lacking in my situations since 1992.
One of the amazing things about the staff of the Test Sections was the almost infinite range of knowledge that existed between them, both from the years of varied experience and their individual interests outside work. It is clear from the articles that are sent to you that things haven't changed.
John Neil ... it was good to see you at the Albion in September .. Now my
mother no longer lives at Highbury and is in a Care Home at Ware, I have
lost my London base so had to travel up by train from home. I was surprised that the journey from door to door was only two hours. I travelled
on a one day return travel card which includes train, bus, tube in the
London area. Not being a London resident I do not qualify for the over
60's freedom pass which gives free travel around London.
Hedley Warner told me that his father Jim Warner had passed away earlier this year. I remember Jim from Photometry and STC Southgate and what a nice chap he was.
In June I attended Paul Chance's leaving 'do' at the Lord Raglan in St Martins Ie Grande. He and four others from the various Procurement Depts all left B.T. at about the same time and had a joint farewell. Also at the gathering was Derek "Jim" Young and Ted Neye and Brian Middlemiss who used to be at Euston Tower.
I am still a volunteer at the Connected Earth Museum at Amberley Working Museum in West Sussex. During the Winter close season we were busy making improvements to the Museum and displays. This involved a lot of construction and alteration work to meet revised and improved presentation to the Connected Earth Hall.
A new Railway Hall has been opened at Amberley by Prince Michael of Kent. There is also a new Visitors Centre and Restaurant for visitors. Now that the season is drawing to a close there are plans for further improvements which will keep the volunteers busy during the closed season.
Norman Froggett ... I've been meaning to write to you for some time but
time waits for no man and this year seems to have leaped forward faster
than ever. I send my many thanks for your continued publication of Dave's
Gen. It's so nice to read about our colleagues and keep in touch with
some. I have received a lot and returned a lot of correspondence with lan
Torrance, also received e-mail from Roger Glover. I wondered if you rec-
eived any news and views from Harry Jenn in South Africa. He told me he
would send some material for the GEN. He will be going on a long visit to
his daughters in Canada before Christmas, I will still be in touch with
him via e-mail. Please mention in your next issue that I send my best
wishes to ex-colleagues of the Test Section.
I still keep very busy with organ playing, and recording CD's and with activities with our local organ club, as well as much work on the computer.
Dave Walton ... it has been a relatively quiet year in some respects.
However, we did have a bit of excitement in September. After 10 years of
trying, our village, Wraxall finally became featured in "Gardeners Quest-
ion Time" on Radio 4. This was further "brought home to us" literally as one of the interviews, awav from the staging in the local school, was in
This year also marked the 60th Anniversary of the "Double Hills" Arnhem Memorial Service at Paulton, not far from us. It was here that the first casualties of "Operation Market Garden" occurred in the run up to the conflict at Arnhem. The weather and turn out were good and HRH Prince Charles, as Colonel in Chief sent a greeting and epitaph.
P.S. Have just received a copy of Radio Bygones through the post. Interest-
ing magazine. It features old radios and test equipment through the years.
It's a sign of the times that service items we used at Studd Street are featured. There was also an interesting reference to a "Museum of Electr- icity" set up by the old Southern Electricity in 1981 at the old Power Station, Christchurch, Dorset. Tel. 01202 480467 Mon-Fri 12 noon - 4 30 Easter to end of September.
"Electrical items and appliances and hand on equipment for all ages-
Cliff Bourne ... Reflecting on a report issued today, 20th September/that
there is a considerable gap between customers' expectations and their re-
alisation, brings me to wonder why. We know that B.T. as with all ma-jor
companies, resorted to accountants who, could and still can, calculate
the cost of everything but not the value of anything. Hence the dissol-
ution of departments, non-profit making, B.T.Q.A. being one.
In fairness to accountants they are paid to advise management and it is the latter who choose to evaluate and/or ignore the value of goodwill customer complaints (satisfaction), service provision etc. Customers should all consider the famous phrase "fit for the purpose for which it is intended" (Sale of Goods Act 1979) and complain if the realisation does not meet the expectation. I remember attending a contractor's meeting at Chelmsford, at which their accountant made a serious proposal that they would make a minimum loss if they made nothing for B.T., dismissed all their staff and closed the factory ... Such is the power of believing totally in real joined up numbers.
On a lighter note, I have passed an initial "Basic Skills Course" which will allow me to help as an assistant in a classroom with adults who have literacy and numeracy problems. I also work in two charity shops "Tenovus Cancer" and a local "Hospice Trust" as a humper and "gofah" For the latter
I am also testing small appliances (P.A.T.testing) for re-sale with three months guarantee and of course, according to our local Trading Standards, 6 years liability -- self afflicting with the flex say.
Well, it is interesting and as I say to the ladies, it keeps you off the Streets!
Alan Portch ... Thanks for the very good photo of Almeida Street. Looks Posh these days. Thanks for the GEN.
Ian Torrance ... Following my last article in the February issue of the
Gen. about Cinema and Theatre organs, mentioning also that I belonged to
an organ Club in Stevenage where regular organ Concerts are held, caused
Norman Froggett to respond. We have since corresponded a great deal over
past months and have voiced our respective interests in this style of
music and about old cinemas generally.
Norman is no ordinary buff like me who goes and listens, for he is Chair- man of the Devon Organ Society and was involved in setting up the Organ Society in South Africa, he is also a fine organist himself. So, it has been great to write to an old colleague especially after all these years, since in the Test Section days, neither of us knew of our passion for this kind of music.
Now, let us see if someone else will correspond or make comments about cinema organs or about my latest piece in the Gen. regarding the railway gauge of 4' 8 1/2"
Does the statement." We've always done it that way" ring any
The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That's an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used?
Because that's the way they built them in England, and English expatriates built the US Railroads.
Why did the English build them like that?
Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre- railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used.
Why did "they" use that gauge then?
Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing. Okay! Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that's the spacing of the wheel ruts.
So who built those old rutted roads? Imperial Rome built the first - long distance roads in Europe (and England) for their legions. The roads have been used ever since.
And the ruts in the roads?
Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.
The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot. And bureaucracies live for ever. So the next time you are handed a spec and told we have always done it that way and wonder what horse's ass came up with that, you may be exactly right, because the Imperial Roman war chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back ends of two war horses.
Now the twist to the story.
When you see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory in Utah. The engineers who designed the SRBs would have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site.
The railroad line from the factory happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains. The SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track, as you now know, is about as wide as two horses' behinds. So, a major Space Shuttle design feature of what is arguably the worlds most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a horse's arse!!
And you thought being a horse's arse wasn't important.
There are regular meet-ups (every 3 months) at The Albion pub in Islington..
The next is at the earlier date of Thurs. 9ch Dec.
On Thursday 16th September 2004 those attending included Ken Denny, Steve ^Chalky) Dickens, Mel E^lis, Dave Fairhurst4john Neil, Roy Thurgood, Hedley Warner, Geoff Wigley.
A queer title but. I can wander as various thoughts arrive on many subjects:
(I have just had to change the ribbon so print might be different Ed)
1. I have always understood that the Testing Branch type of duty, in what name and form is not known, originated in Mount Pleasant. The date of the move to Studd St. is not known (how old is the Studd St building?) I also have an idea that the Buckton Tensile Strength machine came from the Mount at the same time.
2. Although signs of slowing down are getting evident, my hearing is still very good which leads me to comment. I spent a lot of my early Youth and USW days on Voice-Ear testing in Group 2 (TN Room). They were the days before the T.I.T. was developed. There may be some who remember this. Also for a long time A.C. Bridge work testing involved a null point detection via an earphone. Many of the bridge components had to be assembled by separate plant items.
3. Can anyone advise what happened to the POEU and STE-? I receive a regular free copy of BT Today with no mention of any recognisable equivalent to me.
4. I have a "criminal record" dating back to 1938 when stopped for speeding in Richmond Park at 30 mph in a 20 mph zone. I was on my way to Dollis Hill to attend a Transmission & Lines Course at the Training School just before the War. Does anyone -out there- remember? D.H.Courses - in Wooden Shed type class rooms. I was there with Len Hill, one of very few colleague who left the Post Office to try other avenues. We bought our first TV from him from his shop at Arnos Grove - a 9" screen Black and White - which did very good service. Mention of Arnos Grove reminds me of CTS days. I had short spells there as an extension of Studd St. Group 3 business, but I fail to appreciate why now.
5. Mention of Training Courses, the memory clicks again. I had a period at Cambridge during the War (as did many others) on a course but at home the fact that I was away on a course at "Cambridge" was not clarified to house neighbours - naughty Sarge;
It is to be hoped that some memories will be started. That is all for now
as I am busy on domestic assignments, one can hope for a change soon, so
keep taking the tablets and now also all medication regularly.
Are, yes. I must be getting old, because I'm struggling to recall peoples names again. But
having looked deep into my mis-spent, I've just remembered something more from the legendary Malmesbury, detached duty rota days. Charlie Kendall, a smashing chap. Friendly, kind and helpful, he was based at Bridgewater along with other West country stars, such as Brian Bale, Ossy, Peter Damerill and another bearded wonder who's name just will not register. No doubt I'll get sworn at for forgetting him if he reads this.
Anyway back to Charlie, we later referred to him as 12 Chip Charlie as his appetite for chips was limited. Lunchtimes, it was customs and practice to shoot off from the Malmesbury, Pye-TMC(infamous base site), down to the 'Duke of York' pub for a bite to eat. 12 Chip, always used to complain he had too many chips with his meal and started requesting just a few, say about 12 chips would be sufficient. Hence the name. He was attached to Austin Vandem Plas cars as I recall and subsequently, when it died, we enquired what had happened to it. He softly responded, "buried in the back garden" along with previous cars;: He must have had a large plot and obviously not very eco friendly by todays standards. I cannot imagine the subsequent owners surprise if he ever did any digging. Charlie died some years ago now, but he was one of those unassuming characters that was really nice to have known and worked with.
Meanwhile, back at the Duke of York, the landlord Tony (he had a wife that sporadically came and went as the rows blew hot and cold), he was an ex-London hair- dresser (we think that's where he met his wife), not the typically hair- dresser image, but a raving womaniser and alcoholic. So, as they say, he can't be all bad. Because his pub was just on the outskirts of Malmesbury he didn't get much evening trade, too far for the local hayseeds to walk and being an outsider (from London) didn't help. Strange, one of my first experiences of a cultural divide, locals v the rest of the world, differ- ent humour, different ways of living, different attitude to life etc. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with sheep and beasts of the field, if that what turns you on, but I prefer the banter of my soul mates.
In defence of the locals, they were a good lot and had good reason to be really pissed off at the relocation of London factory workers to the area, driving up property prices beyond their reach. I digress, Tony's trade was so dire in the evenings, he didn't open up his pub, so on many occas- ion I use call in, he would lock up and we would go out for a 'little drink' touring the 'Malmesbury Wells'. Eventually, Tony remained closed one time too often and he disappeared, the pub stayed shut for months, probably a cheaper option for the brewery. Oh well, happy days and another experience of the ever changing ways of country life.
Thank you once again LTS for allowing me the opportunity to meet so many interesting characters and providing the wherewithal to brush with 'situations' that a Neasden boy could only dream off.
All for now, I'm back to the reality show of life and the JP courts of the South, how I ever never ended up in one in earlier times I'll never Know. Next time, Berlin tv (that's an abbreviation for Trans Vestites, honest. I just read it in 'Free Ads' - believe me I'm a Studd Street man. You never got this thing in the 'Exchange and Mart'
(I will now include an earlier Pete's article which missed Feb. GEN - Ed?)
Kidbrooke remembered (back when we were GPO). What a place to send a Youth in-Training (and later as a Tech la) from Neasden would you believe; Talk about travelling time, or overtime (what a nice little earner), by the time I got there it was time to leave for home. The journey on the bus, tube and train seemed to take forever, about 2^ hours each way I recall. But despite the journey there was enough time for a young lad to learn from the outstation characters embedded in this backwater; skill transfer they call it these days. To set the scene for Kidbrooke in those early 1960's imagine large hangar type warehouses, bloody enormous, with hun- dreds of trestle tables end to end, in rows up and down the place. It was on these tables that the GPO store men laid out all the recovered teleph- ony items, sent in from the areas for grading by members of the elite det- ached duty troops from the LTS.
As I recall, our first job (apart from tea making after such a journey) was to mix up small pots of paint, about pint pot, using a water-based powder, 4 pots. Red, Green, Blue and White. Talk about high tech, they wouldn't believe it these days. We then went out to face the mountain of stuff on the tables. Purpose? To 'examine' the stuff then decide what kit was fit for minor repair (green).Major (red), scrap (blue) or re-issue (white), then apply with artistic relish the app- ropriate dob of paint on to the item. What a job, and with the added ad- vantage of being able to actually buy scrap stuff, say no more.
Starring at such a venue was Bru, Ron Worger, Peter Dwyer, Frank Lecore who occasionally went Awol (at the time rumoured to be living on a barge on the Thames), Brendon, Al Almand, others and an asian guy who's name es- capes me, but he was good at making kites out of Kraft brown paper, some- thing he had learnt to do in his more productive, early India, days. He also moonlighted as an 'extra' in films, his claim to fame was in a 'Bond' movie as a gypsy type, seen for all of about two seconds. What was his name? lan Boniface was the AEE at the time, poor devil, how he put up with it all is still a mystery. Particularly when we were all missing flying kites out on the site fields. (lan, nice to see you in the 'Gen') Who re- members Ron Worger, bald as I recall and was always falling asleep dribb- ling down his foul smelling pipe. One lunchtime, as idle young lads would have it, Al and I shaved up some ebonestos bits and set them alight under his chair to see if he would notice. I cannot remember the outcome, a ticking off from lan I think, something to do with health and safety.
Jim was born in West Ham, Canning Town in 1909 and he grew up in East Ham with his older brother and two younger sisters. His father died in his forties but his mum lived to see her eighties. His school years were notable by his singing - he was awarded several certificates. Amateur dramatics was important in his early life. Apparently his first part was in 'drag'. He also used to laugh at the rave reviews he received in one of his roles. He was bound and gagged in a chair and had to act in pain. The tears shed in this scene, however, were genuine, as his foot had become caught in the stage steps as
At the age of 18 he was knocked down by a lorry. But even at this unfortunate time he knew the best place to land - outside his doctor's house. He stayed in a coma for 2 weeks and was not really expected to survive. But true to form he did! This left him with a form of epilepsy, which meant he was not able to join the forces during the war.
However, he still applied to join the home guard, but this only lasted 2 weeks, as once again he was told he was not suitable due to the same medical reasons. He was irritated by this decision because he was sure it was because he had proved to be a better shot than the sergeant - scoring five 'bulls eyes' at the first meeting he went to.
He married in 1938 and in 1942 the family home in Clerkenwell was damaged by enemy action and they moved to Palmers Green. During the war Dad kept rabbits and chickens in the back garden as part of the war effort.
Dad started work at Plessey Ilford inspecting GPO equipment. During his time in the London Test Section he did a number of jobs but most will remember him in the photometry room in the basement, or testing uniselectors at STC New Southgate. I can recall that he regularly arrived at New Southgate early so that he could complete the tests on the resubmitted batches before starting on the latest batch.
During the 43 years he worked in the test section he was never late; a record he was proud of. He retired in 1969 when he was sixty, just before the GPO left the civil service and became the Post Office.
Although he had had always planned to retire at sixty he was slightly upset when he heard colleagues who retired in the following year got retire- ment gifts (from what he called the Green Shield catalogue) rather the Imperial Service Medal that he was presented with. After his retirement he regularly returned to Studd Street to make the teas at retirement parties.
During his 35 years in retirement he spent his time in his garden and at his allotment which he kept going until he was into his eighties. He did not rest when he was indoors and turned his hand to DIY, knitting, tapestry and sewing.
Mum died in 1994 but he still enjoyed his life despite his slowly failing health. Even when taken into hospital you can never keep a good man down. He hated sitting in bed with nothing to do and was often found doing various task - sorting out linen cupboards, shaving others and feeding fellow inmates. His optimism remained when he was examined by a doctor and told he had to have an operation. He asked them why the 'op' was necessary, he was told 'because you have a lump' Dad's answer was "thank goodness it's nothing to worry about'
In 2001 there was a need for Dad to be visited daily by a carer. However, he did not read the rules - insisting that he should make the tea for the carers and not the other way round. In 2003 he had a pacemaker fitted. Just after the operation he was reading the manual issued to patients. He said that he was concerned that he would not be able to use a chain saw anymore - I didn't realise that at the age of 94 he had an ambition to do so.
He died on April 23rd 2004 in the house he has been living in since 1942. Obviously my family and I will miss him, but it has been good to share some of his life with you through the Gen. I am sure that those of you who knew him and worked with him will have your own memories, but to me and my family Dad was a caring and understanding man who always had time to listen to others, both young and old. He was a true gentleman.
These photo's from Hedley Warner, found at his father's house. He has no details of time or place.
Norman Froggett ... I recently contacted Harry Jenn in South Africa and sent him the web address of the LTSSAC so that he could download your Dave's Gen. I have just received an e-mail with thanks, he was most pleased to be able to print a copy of the GEN. Here is his reply:
Harry & Betty Jenn.
P.O.. Box 1229, 22.Feb.2004
2153, South Africa.
E-mail address: email@example.com
22. Feb. 2004.
Dear Dave & ex-colleagues of the " Test Section" (LTSSAC),
I have written my address at the top to save you having to turn to the back page to see who it is from.
Firstly, I still keep in touch with Norm' Froggett, (who is responsible for my writing to 'Dave's Gen' by giving me the Website ), with lan & Gwen Torrance by 'slow mail', (& after all these years I read in this issue he is an Organ Buff). I had also kept in touch with Don Warren, Peter Higgins & George Smith. Jnr. who have passed on, but I still write to Audrey W & Margot H. & as George's wife died first, I kept in touch with his eldest married daughter, Margaret.
Secondly, the twelve pages I downloaded, A4 size of your Feb. 2004 news (is it normally that long?), I wish to congratulate you on a magnificent job, & although it was a small section of the Post Office, I was surprised at how many have kept in touch. It certainly brought back memories & mostly good may I say.
Jimmy Beard,, (no more Padina?), & the shop(s) in Studd Street & Brimsdown. What is this about only being able to cope/manage his V.C.R. ? You are never too old to leam. Look at the wonderful discounts you can get as a Telcoms Pensioner.
Brian Conroy, Taught me the ropes on Group 24. Is he still mad on M.G's? & his son told me how they sound ( Broom-Broom). And many more individuals (some of the younger!! From my collecting Union Subs days (Payday) & others from our I.E.E. ( Jnr.Section ) day visits. & the wonderful Public Relations Luncheons. We never got to a Brewery unfortunately. Not for the wont of trying. I remember the big boss calling me into his office & suggested we keep our visits to Electrical & Engineering manufacturers, also nearer home counties. & as it was all paid leave Softly Softly. And the many friends I made with the Stamp Exchange Club. I still collect stamps & I must admit my South African collection is reasonable well complete, as the Union of SA only issued from 1910, including 1st. day covers.
You may or may not know I left the Section in '71 (with nearly 25 years service ), because I had become disenchanted with my transfer to Crayford, after living in Waltham Cross for 13 years, the Mid-life crisis, the daughters schooling & the Unions (in Pete Higgins came to the UK with a South African Post Office 'poaching team', & convinced me & Norm Froggett of a better life, more pay etc. etc. etc.
The 2 families left by boat to Cape Town & spent Xmas aboard, (never to be forgotten experience) & a to be forgotten two day Railway trip to Joburg. (It is better by the Blue Train, which we did for Betty's retirement gift only 24 hours with beautiful scenery & wonderful meals. A must for Railway buffs, of which I am one, to arrive in Joburg on New Years Eve, 06h00.
The girls were whisked of shopping & we went to meet the Area Engineer, who greeted us & wanted to know if we knew his Mothers sister in Kent (he was looking at our files & where we had been recruited from ) I do not think he realized that we were not really Exchange experienced technicians of which they were desperately short of. We found out later, they had a Purchasing & Supply section, but no Q.A. experience, but was a closed shop. for various reasons Plessey's were only a Vz hour nde away, & were the major shareholders in a joint partnership with the S.A.P.O. I will tell you more of that perhaps in another letter?
Do many of you remember the bungalow outside at the back of Studd St. where we had the Life Test Equipment?? I was involved in M.D. Uniselectors at the time & we turned the equipment down as they were expensive to maintain hardly reliable & many other faults. Little did I know I would be plagued with the wretched things in South Africa - In another letter perhaps?
Anyway he wished us a Happy New Year, suggested we go & collect our salary, subsistence & traveling expenses & sign off for the day & report for duty in 2 days time. Our Head quarters was a Post Office, 2 Telephone Exchanges & the Deputy Director of Engineering's Staff Offices for the Witwatersrad & was in Sauer Street, reminiscent of Studd St.
We have been happy here. & both daughters went to University, in spite of having to leam Afrikaans. The eldest became a Primary school teacher with extra qualifications as a Remedial Teacher & the youngest, a Chartered Accountant Both married & had pigeon pairs & were extremely happy until five years ago.
Now they have with their families left South Africa for Canada, for very much similar reasons as I left England. We miss them terribly, but they have both settled down & are doing well, so we are pleased for them & our grandchildren. We have had many experiences, some good some bad. We did Caravanning for twenty years, so saw a great deal of the country & the peoples.
We have been here for 32 years. I retired from the S.A.P.O. 14 years ago (you had to go at 65).
I have been drawing a British Telecom Pension for 19 years, it was nice to hear there are many others still drawing theirs & also a Social Security Pension (old age) for 14 years. The pension we drew then has not been increased since then
You may have read in your Newspapers of the South African Alliance of British Pensioners (S.AA.B P ) attempts to get the department of work and pentions (DWP) to review this situation & grant increases to a11 pensioner not only in S.A, Namibia, Canada, Australia & New Zealand, particularly those that 'bought back ' & those who compulsorily paid in. The final Appeal after two unsuccessful appeals in Court, is now with the House of Lords. It has been an expensive exercise so far. I hope we get more support from those O.AP's living in the U.K.
There are many things I could write about life here, some would bore unless you had seen them or been there others more memorable.
My wife Betty & I were married in August 1947 (8 months after I started working for the Test Section), & 50 years later we were invited to Queen Elizabeth's 50th. Wedding Anniversary at 'Buck' on 15th. July 1997. Needless to say, when we found out we would only see her for approximately 2 hours, it did seem rather an expensive trip for such a short event. We opted to go on a 14 day cruise to the Spice Islands in the Indian Ocean & across to Zanzibar & back down along the African East Coast back down to Durban. All notable events, like Birthdays or Wedding Anniversaries were noted by the Purser, so on our day at the evening meal, they played the wedding march & the chef of the day brought out a special cake & the wine steward placed a magnum of Champagne at the table, complements of the captain and the crew. Later when we returned to the cabin there was a smaller bottle from the cabin staff with a lovely congratulations card. In the mean while our kids had got the telegraphic address of the shop & sent us greetings messages on the day. With all the phots & video footage taken, we felt we had chosen the right way way to celebrate this achievement. I sahll be 80 in Oct.
My youngest son-law gave me his P.C.& equipment & a very quick lesson on how to use it, a few months before they went to Canada, saying. We had to keep in touch by electronic mail, particularly as the S A Postal Services were undergoing drastic under-privileged changes. It has been a Godsend in keeping in touch with our families & friends.
I've just had both my eyes operated upon (2 weeks apart)for cataracts & lens implants l am amazed at what a difference it has made. It was like as if I was living in a new & more colourful world. I liken the experience to, if you drive a car regularly you have no idea how your brakes & tyres are wearing until the emergency stop, & you don't!
I noticed the Website has two previous issues of Dave's Gen to this, so I hope to download later & refresh my memory of other events of years ago. May I contribute, or perhaps share some of my experiences with the S.A.P.O,? Let me know. This is where a P.O. is useful in that this letter could be sent by email, you would then copy passages of info' on to your Document /File for inclusion on your David's Gen. I only use 2 or 3 fingers myself, so it is a laborious task I know.
I always thought Biddy married the Bakers daughter, "because he (k)needed the dough"
Len must contact Ian Torrance re the changes to Brimsdown & Waltham X, he is great on 'Conservation ' & the bird life on the new River Lea catchments area & the Small Arms Museum conversion.
I noticed two references to " Friends reunited website. Is there anyone who could email me the www. Site??
I was also pleased to note that you are still living in Enfield, I am sure it has changed a great deal from my days. When the war broke out and I was 16, living with my Mum & Dad in Enfield about 9 months before I volunteered for the R.A.F. we had about 7 landmines dropped across Enfield, fortunately only two went off. When I was demobbed I noticed the debris had been cleared & made into allotments perhaps yours was one? I cannot remember the name ofthe road, but our house was opposite Horace Lickonsh, the A.E. in charge of Group 7 at Goswell Road. He, incidentally, was responsible for my joining the Test Section.
All the very best to you, keep well, your winter is not over yet, & Good Luck
From Harry & Betty Jenn in Joburg. It is our summer now, but we are having some nice rains after a 4 month drought.
I might have mentioned this before that Harry got the 679 Trolleybus at Waltham Cross and travelled all the way to Studd Street. He was a smoker but could not bare the smoke upstairs (smoking permitted upstairs in those days)so he travelled all the way downstairs. I never smoked but when I got on a few stops later I always went upstairs with all the smoke as it was less crowded;
It was a shock to leam of the death of Len Wise. Len and I grew up together. His parents lived in the next
road to mine. We went to the same infants school, although we never claimed to remember each other. We
then progressed to the same junior school. We both won a scholarship to attend a grammar school and chose
the same school.
We both joined the St John's Ambulance Brigade cadet force. The cadet superintendent was a man named Bill Day and the seniors had a chap called Bert Turtle in charge. Eventually we both joined the London Test Section! Len left the LTS, I think in 1956/7,and became a Traffic Officer. We were both called up into the Royal Signals, although seven months apart. We met up again in the Radio Mechanics School in Catterick on different courses. On completion of our courses Len was posted to Cyprus and I to Germany.
Len wasn't a man to stand on ceremony. I have strong recollections of Len telling stories against himself; I think he used to embellish them to make them funnier. One hilarious tale was when he decided that he needed transport and bought a l000cc motorbike from Stan Billett. When he told me I couldn't stop myself from saying " Len you can't even ride a bike let alone a motor cycle" He said he was going to take lessons. The morning following the first lesson I met up with him and asked how it went. This was the beginning of a weekly 'crying session', in the old Group 3 room. His telling ofthe previous evening's events had me - and him- in tears. Our colleagues decided we were mad!
I dpn't suppose there are many who can say that they hit their best friend on the head with a pickaxe. I did! Fortunately it happened whilst we were in the army; otherwise this would not be a happy tale. Len used this to his best advantage. He was excused wearing boots and never did another guard duty or parade on the grounds that stamping his feet gave him a headache.
One last story. You may remember that we used to have to sign-on in the mornings at a central point, the red line being drawn at about 8.10. On one occasion Len was 'under the line'. His excuse, written in the book, was " Bitten by a dog, returned home to change trousers'. He was excused!
My husband, Len Wise, may have told you that he was due to have heart
surgery just before Christmas. Unhappily his lungs were so badly injured
during the complicated surgery that after two respiratory arrests he died
Such news might be disheartening for any of "Dave's GEN" readers facing
heart surgery, so I hasten to add that Len•s experience was highly un-
typical. I have asked Reg Hooker who was a life long friend of Len, to
give a few more details to you for the GEN.
Len did so enjoy reading the GEN - even names would set him off along Memory Lane". Thank you for compiling it so regularly.
For those of you with modern cars and have computer chips in them to control the fuel injection and enngine firing systems.
BE WARNED. A radio device is being tested which will knock out your system and so bring you to a halt if you are being chased by the police.
In America' of course; work is going on to scan gramophone record grooves optically, using speclal microscope techniques. Once again the sound from old shellac disc swill be heard but without wearing the disc's grooves.
Similarly, work is also going on to read old record cylinders including those fragile ones that have on them the sound of Queen Victoria, Abraham Lincoln and Florence Nightingale etc.
That's all folks. Next GEN in February. Have a Happy Christmas:
For those who might be interested "Dave's GEN" will be reprinted on the LTSSAC website together with some pictures of the past at:- www.ltssac.org
Dave Fairhurst, 31 Roedean Avenue, Enfield, Middx. EN3 5QJ Tel:020 8804 1959
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