The following list comprises those members whose demise has been notified via the STL QCC listserver.
|Jan 2007||Steve Lane|
|Mar 2007||John Tilley|
|May 2007||Arthur Mechen|
|Aug 2007||Peter Ramsdale|
|Aug 2007||Ziggy Seweryn|
|Aug 2007||Mohan Kumar|
|May 2008||Desmond Ridler|
|Jun 2008||Frank Simpson|
|Jul 2008||Dennis Nichols|
|Jul 2008||Les Rigby|
|Nov 2008||Chris Carter|
|Dec 2008||Charlie Sandbank|
|Jan 2009||John Lee|
|Feb 2009||Bob Clarke|
|Mar 2009||Ken Hill|
|Mar 2009||Terry Magee|
|Nov 2009||Mike Wright|
|Oct 2010||Jan Jazierski|
|Nov 2010||Ken Snowden|
|Feb 2011||Robin Scarr|
|Jul 2011||John Woolley|
|Jul 2011||Vincent Bezdel|
|Sept 2011||Bernie Mills|
|Oct 2011||John Stagg|
|Feb 2012||Richard (Dick) Humphreys|
|Mar 2012||Peter Sothcott|
|Apr 2012||Cyril Sutton|
|Apr 2012||Tony Sweet|
|Jun 2012||Don Coleman|
|Nov 2012||Bessie Hodgson|
|Dec 2012||Henley Sterling|
|Jan 2013||George Kent|
|Jan 2013||Arthur Needs|
|May 2013||Peter Linwood|
|Jun 2013||Dick Goodwin|
|Sept 2013||George Hockham|
|Sept 2013||John Weston|
|Nov 2013||Dennis Cooper-Jones|
|Jun 2014||Kenneth Taylor|
|Dec 2014||Ernie Workman|
|Jan 2015||John Alexander|
|Sep 2015||Tony Jessop|
|Dec 2015||Roger Williamson|
|Dec 2015||Martin Lawn|
|Jan 2016||Sir Kenneth Corfield|
|Jan 2016||Peter Bourne|
|Feb 2016||Brian Scott|
|Mar 2016||Eric Rogers|
|Apr 2016||Ken Ellington|
|Nov 2016||John Robinson|
|Mar 2017||Geraldine Lewis|
|May 2017||Richard (Dick) Hinton|
From The Times: March 9, 2009
Charles Sandbank: electronics engineer
Charles Sandbank had a telling influence on the way we listen and watch radio, television and cinema. He was a world leader in the research and development of electronics, telecommunications and digital broadcasting.
Charles Peter Sandbank was born in Vienna in 1939. His family moved to England where he attended Bromley Grammar School in Kent. After graduating in physics at London University and specialising in electronic engineering for a postgraduate diploma at Imperial College, he began work as a production engineer. Soon his career began to turn to the future of electronic engineering; first, in 1955-60, as a development engineer with the Brimar Valve Company.
In 1960 he moved to the STC company’s transistor division where he developed some of the first semiconductor integrated circuits to be produced in Europe. Four years later he became head of the Electron Devices Laboratory at Standard Telecommunications Laboratories and, in 1968, became manager of the STL Communications Systems Division. He was responsible for the team that pioneered the use of optical fibres for communications and, in 1976, built the world’s first wideband digital optical fibre communication system.
Sandbank’s reputation for high-level original thinking helped to land him the post of Head of Research and Development with BBC Engineering in 1978. Colleagues recall how he proved a breath of fresh air. “Call me Charlie,” he insisted when referred to as “sir”. He exploited Nicam stereo sound for television, which became the world’s first digital broadcasting system, and realised the potential of high-definition television. He became the first chair of the European Broadcasting Union’s high definition TV committee that looked into the possibilities of achieving worldwide standards.
By 1984 Sandbank had become BBC deputy director of engineering. His gregarious personality and enthusiasm for projects was vital for persuading politicians and organisations to invest in new technologies, and he developed the digital audio broadcast system, DAB.
After leaving the BBC in 1993 Sandbank became a consultant for what was then the Department of Trade and Industry, advising on radio frequency bands and their standardisation. He also became, in 2001, a founding co-chairman of the European Digital Cinema Forum, lobbying government-backed bodies, including the UK Film Council, to invest in electronic digital projectors for cinemas.
Between 1982 and 1989 he was the Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor in the Principles of Information Systems Design at the University of Bradford. In 2004 Bradford awarded him an honorary doctorate of engineering.
Sandbank’s engaging personality made him a much sought-after public speaker, and his web of contacts was such that his golden anniversary celebrations in 2005 required four parties.
He is survived by his wife, Audrey, two daughters and a son.
Charles Sandbank, electronics engineer, was born on August 14, 1931. He died after a brain haemorrhage on December 15, 2008, aged 77
Return to top of page
In the early eighties John was recruited by STC Technology to strengthen the department which was developing semiconductor lasers for optical fibre systems. The layers in these structures contained indium, gallium, phosphorus and arsenic as well as dopants. They were initially grown by deposition from molten indium, but a newer deposition technique (MOVPE) from the gas phase was expected to give better control of composition and thickness. In MOVPE the raw materials are transported into the reaction chamber in separate streams of hydrogen and John was asked to create instruments to monitor the concentrations in each hydrogen stream. The impressive result was an instrument known jocularly within the department as a Staggometer, which worked by instantaneous measurements of the velocity of sound in each gas stream. (The velocity of sound is greatest in pure hydrogen and is lower when other substances are present.) Later versions of these instruments are now known by the name Epison and they can be found throughout the world in MOVPE equipment for depositing layers of complex compound semiconductors.
The takeover by Nortel led to the closure of the laser department Subsequently John worked on the planar waveguide project. Further shrinkage of work in Harlow resulted in John moving to a research position at Imperial College for a few years before his retirement. Outside work, John was a great lover of classical music and an extremely good pianist and organist.
Return to top of page
Mike Wright got there the hard way, achieved through numerous evening classes and City & Guilds and HNC qualifications and distinctions, over 8 years. His first job was with Cossor Electronics in 1963, but in 1966 he was recruited by STL to work on GaAsP Light Emitting Diodes. Mike made STL's first visible LED. After a couple of years he transferred to the Transmission lab, initially working for Brian Edwards, and later for John Weston. There he worked on various electronic communications systems including: Mallard, and a 800 MBit/s short range coaxial system for ITT FACE in Italy. In 1972 he was awarded the Cossor Award for being the most successful engineering student at Harlow College.
In 1974 Mike began what would become a lifetime's involvement with Optical Fibre Communication. Initially his role solely involved the electronic parts of the systems. Later years would see him responsible for a group developing complete state of the art fibre transmission systems. Mike's early projects were the first experimental 2 and 34 MBit/s optical fibre systems.
Fibre systems research and development became more and more important, and by 1975 much of STL was devoted to the single task of developing and installing the famous 140 MBit/s Hitchin to Stevenage Field Demonstration System. For many years a photo of him was on display at the London Science Museum, together with some of the equipment. Mikes contribution involved working with the hierarchy of multiplexers, designing terminal & repeater units, installing them and maintaining them in the field. In a laboratory of competitive prima donnas, Mikes unruffled approach, and attention to detail always brought calm and reason.
In 1979, he joined Derek Gardner in Peter Radley's division to work as Principal Engineer leading a challenging new project on optical fibre undersea transmission systems: Systems that would cross the deepest oceans. Mike was responsible for the system configuration & the electronics. After working on the UK-Belgium un-repeated link, his next project was the world's first transoceanic fibre system between the UK and the USA: TAT-8.
Next, working for Jeff Farrington, Mike had responsibility for a succession of challenging projects, providing Integrated Circuits for a whole series of subsequent transatlantic fibre systems TAT-9, NL16, and TAT-12 in 1993. Later he returned to more esoteric projects and managed the development of the ground-breaking experimental 20 GB/s Soliton optical transmission system in 1994.
Mike Wright took temporary responsibility for the Optical, Systems group when Division Manager Mike Scott departed in 1995. When Garry Adams arrived to take over, he found that Mike had gone to great lengths to make the transition as easy as possible. It soon became clear to Garry that he needed a 'right hand man' who knew the ropes and could free him from much of the day to day running of the group whilst he managed the increasing Nortel politics. So Mikes role then became managing the background operation, freeing Garry's other managers to do their technical management roles unhindered, for which they had good reason to be grateful. A large part of the huge impact that the Harlow Optical group made within Nortel, can be traced to Mike's smooth running of the background operation during this time. His attention to detail was always impressive, he always had all the information you could ever want on some giant Excel spreadsheet.
In 1999 Mike was Project Manager for the state of the art 80 Gb/s, 80 kilometres long Soliton transmission demonstration that was exhibited in Geneva, to demonstrate Nortel's prowess in ultra-high speed optical transmission technology. This was an exceedingly ambitious project; Just 9 months to design the system, build a fully working prototype, and then ship it to Switzerland, where it had to work perfectly in front of all of Nortel's biggest customers and critics. There were pressures of a silly schedule, impossibly advanced and untried technology, and a tangle of very bright and disparate individuals from throughout the optics lab in Harlow. Mike was consistently a nice guy, a gentle leader, who kept a sense of humour and perspective through the peaks and troughs of the project. Although its success was not certain, his relaxed and supportive manner was crucial in shepherding the team to a common goal and eventual success against all the odds. Mike was one of those managers that engineers said they enjoyed working for, because he trusted them to do the technical job without interfering. No-one has ever heard a bad word spoken against Mike. In a long career spanning forty years, he made very few enemies and many many friends.
Sadly Mike fell ill shortly before the group's closure in 2004. He lived his remaining years with remarkable courage and dignity, keeping his dry sense of humour and never for once complaining. I am proud to have known him and miss him.
Richard Epworth, November 23rd, 2009
Return to top of page
Bessie Hodgson died on the 11th. November 2012 at the age of 95. She was one of the select band of women who put in over forty years service with the company.
On her retirement in 1977 after 43 years, Dr. S.G.Foord recording this exceptional achievement wrote:-
Bessie started her marathon stint with ITT at North Woolwich where she joined the raw material inspection at the tender age of 17. When I joined two years later (1936) my first indication of her presence was a series of bumps and thumps emanating from an adjacent laboratory where textile materials used in cable making were being tortured according to specification.
During the war Bessie carried on stoically under rather trying conditions when a man on the roof kept advising everyone to take cover. Fortunately the only occasion when this would have proved profitable was one night when the glass roof fell in on an empty lab.
Towards the end of the war Bessie changed her vocation to become secretary to the head of the lab. She had no difficulty in surviving the inevitable quips about secretaries who don’t type and performed sterling service in this job for a number of years.
In 1946 she was one of a group of 17 Woolwich lab personnel who transferred to STL soon after it started at Enfield and accepted the rigours of the ten-week cold spell in 1947 when everyone on arrival in the morning spent the first 15 minutes dangling their legs in a floor duct carrying the hot water service pipes.
On the departure of her boss to seek his fortune at the Post Office Dollis Hill labs I had the good fortune to inherit her. It was not long before I realised we were missing out on a good laboratory assistant and Bessie was returned to lab work which she has carried out with great success ever since.
During 1948-53 she performed much of the detailed experimental work involved in developing a manufacturing process for synthetic piezoelectric crystals which were of considerable strategic importance at that time. She persevered with this work throughout in spite of an allergic effect created by one of the chemicals involved of which she was one of the first recorded victims.
At the time of her retirement she was working on optical coupled relays in the materials components group.
She retired to Derbyshire where she was an active and highly regarded member of the community and the local church. Her service was held at Holbrook Moor
Methodist Church near Belper, Derbyshire followed by cremation.
Return to top of page
George played a key and major role in STC becoming the supplier of the Rapier radar antenna. The sequence was as follows, in the early 1970s George got a
contract from RSRE Malvern for research on the performance of small phased array antennas ( until then the analysis was simplified by assuming that phased arrays
consisted of several hundred individual radiators, so called infinite arrays).
George tackled the more complex problem where the number was much smaller. I recall the array that was built to validate this work with a 25 element array, a heavy block of brass that lived in Z1 for many years. Now, George was an Isle of Man TT racer and one of the people that did the race timing was George Hall who was also at RSRE but he was the Project Manager for the Rapier project as a whole, the two of them knew each other quite well. One day George Hall arrives in my office in Z1 and explains how totally dissatisfied he is with the “ bit of bent tin” that Decca had for an antenna on the Rapier radar ( and he probably told me, as he did frequently, that the Queen deserved something better as he always saw the MoD project manager role as having a strong dotted line to the palace) He said he knew that George had done this work on small phased arrays and he (and HMQ) wanted one like it on Rapier. We got the study contract. George did some brilliant analysis and computer modelling, Ian McClymont and Ray Thomas made and tested a lot of hardware, George interpreted the measurements, a lot of others chipped in ideas and it resulted in a brilliant and profitable product for STC Paignton.
I will really miss my old friend.
Having joined R673 at STL in 1962 I soon got to know George as R673 was part of Len Lewin?s empire which included Tony Karbowiak?s section where I believe George initially worked. When I moved from STL to Queen Mary College in 1980 I was delighted to find that George was a regular visitor to QMC?s Electronic Engineering Department (having gained his PhD there) and we would chat about the good old days at STL before ITT became dominant. Curiously, the last time I saw George was a few years ago in Barclay?s Bank in Bishop?s Stortford where George had retained his account many years after moving out of the area.
Return to top of page
Dennis died peacefully in Culm Valley Nursing Home on November 17th 2013.
He and Pam, his wife for 64 years who sadly died in April, lived in Plymtree for almost 30 years following his retirement. During this period he was always active and wanted to put as much as he could back into the community. This included acting as the Vice Chairman of the Governors of Plymtree C of E School for ten years and Chairman of the Plymtree Branch of the Conservative Association for eight years. Dennis also Chaired or Vice Chaired the Plymtree Country Fayre and Horseshow for a similar period. He was an active member of Probus, serving as a speaker organiser and Chairman and for eleven years he acted as Treasurer of the Plymtree and District Gardening Club.
Dennis was born in 1924 at St. Peter Port, Guernsey the eldest son of a dental surgeon. Educated at Haberdashers Aske's School, then in Hampstead he went on to complete a B.Sc. In Electrical Engineering at London University before seeing wartime service as a Wireless Officer, Special Branch RNVR.After the war he joined Standard Telephones and Cables as an electronic engineer, with whom he worked for 42 years. He travelled extensively in his various roles, yet found the time to write two Business Books, still in publication, and many articles for technical publications and lectures. He was appointed an OBE in 1984.
Apart from his family and fly fishing, Dennis' great passion was for his garden, which he designed and planted over many years and enjoyed opening up to the village.
Dennis will be greatly missed. Someone always friendly, helpful, interested and supportive, to everyone he came across.
Return to top of page
I recently learnt from his son Derek that Henley died in December 2012, in a nursing home in Bexhill-on-Sea. I have been in touch with some of his former colleagues at STL, and the following is a compilation of all our memories of him.
Henley was born in London and as a child showed a flair for experimentation. He told me that he burnt the counterpane on his bed with sodium he had electrolysed using the DC mains supplied to his home, and blew off the cast iron surround of the fireplace in his bedroom with black powder he prepared from readily available chemicals! When he left school at 14 or 15 he worked for a chemical company making cosmetics and perfumes, as he could not continue with further education due to family circumstances. When WW2 was declared he joined the RAF and was trained as a Radar Engineer on the CHL (Chain Home Low) system. He was posted to radar stations at Swingate on the cliffs at Dover, experimental units in the UK and West Africa (on the way his ship was torpedoed and he was one of the few survivors). He ended up in Europe after D-day with a unit detecting the launching of V2s from mobile sites by triangulation, so Typhoon fighters could be scrambled to destroy the sites.
After WW2 he joined the newly formed STL at Enfield and was involved with initial work on silicon made from silane and the single crystal growth of silicon. Later he applied the RF expertise gained in the RAF to developing, with Reg Warren, a method of melting conducting materials without contamination in a water-cooled crucible – the so-called silver boat process. The molten metal was micro-levitated by the RF power in a coil around the silver boat, and the metal could be zone-refined by passing the boat through the coil. The process was initially used to purify and grow single crystal silicon, although his manager Jack Wilson had forbad him using any of the stock of silane-silicon! Later he applied the silver boat process to melting refractory metals and compounds, e.g. tungsten (mpt 3422oC) and zirconium diboride (mpt 3246oC). For his work in this area, he received an award from ITT.
In the early 1960s, Henley applied his RF techniques to the plasma deposition of amorphous silicon, silicon oxide and silicon nitride. He built up a world-leading team, which included John Alexander, Dick Swann, Sadie Hughes and Rab Chittick. The processes the team developed were applied to semiconductor processing, e.g. the passivation of devices with silicon nitride.
Henley then threw his energies to developing new materials and processes for electrolytic capacitors, and their failure mechanisms, with a team including Dick Humphries, Sadie Hughes and Miles Drake, managed by Eric Bush.
Henley was a front-line scientist with boundless enthusiasm and had numerous patents; he did not seek to be a manager, but became a Chief Principal Research Engineer until he retired in 1984. In retirement he spent his time researching his family history, finding ancestors who were Huguenots and goldsmiths in London, between 1770 and 1750.
Many people owe Henley a great deal, and he had quite an influence on the development of their careers and hence their lives. Regrettably none of his former colleagues were aware of his death a year ago and so were unable to pay their last respects at his funeral – only six family members were present.
Dr Peter Graves
4th December 2013
Return to top of page
John graduated in Metallurgy from Battersea Polytechnic and joined Henley Sterling’s
plasma processing group at STL in 1962. He worked on the thermally enhanced
plasma deposition of silicon compounds, carrying out pioneering work on the
deposition of amorphous silicon and subsequently silicon nitride.
When ITT acquired Erie Electronics at Yarmouth in 1975, John became intimately
involved with a development programme for processing ceramic multilayer capacitors
using screen-printing. He developed new dielectric materials based on barium
and lead zirconate-titanate, together with the addition of rare earth oxides,
and presented the work at a conference in the USA. In the early 1980s John worked
on ceramic capacitors for STC Submarine Systems Division (SSD), and spent some
time at AVX (a capacitor manufacturing company) in Olean, NY, on their behalf.
Alan Jeal (formerly of SSD) records that John’s advice and analysis was
invaluable to SSD.
In 1986 John left STL to join the Ferro Corporation in Vista, California, to work on ceramic capacitor development – he was probably headhunted as a result of his paper - and subsequently moved to Colorado. He retired in 2003 and lived in Longmont, Colorado, where he enjoyed his passion for gardening. In 2014 he contracted oesophageal cancer, from which he died on 22nd January 2015.
Eric Bush & Pete Graves
Return to top of page
I shall miss Vi. You will miss Vi. We will all miss Vi. She was a part of the lives so many of us. It’s an honour to be asked by her partner Brian Prossor to say a few words.
Vi started off in Patents but I did not know her during that period of her
working life and so can’t say much about that period in her life.
My main association was with/through the Quarter Century Club. I may have been its President but she made it quite clear in one of our early meetings, if not the first, that she ran it!! She offered-up a theme for each year based on a memorable event in STC/STL’s history. The Drawing office used to dread her coming around about August for models to be made – a light house one year when STC introduced the radio lighthouses - an Enigma keyboard another. You may remember these.
Malcolm Napier was also a key part of all this. Vi would tell him what she wanted in the way of a meal and Malcolm and Gordon Harris made it happen. I guess we all paid a penny or tuppance on our daily restaurant meals which eventually enabled a fantastic meal to be produced free of charge.
Ian Vance the current present President of the STL QCC says The only obvious detail that I would think might be appropriate is that we were all in awe of Vi’s extraordinary vitality. In this connection Richard Epworth says, My personal abiding memory of Vi will always be her wonderful laugh. I remember her partnering me at Badminton in a league match back in the ‘60s and her starting to laugh mid game. Our opponents were so confused it gained us several points
Dave Smith, President of the Components Chapter of the QCC says “She was always there to support and advise, particularly regarding our history. I will find it difficult, if not impossible to replace her. Vi has always been there and it seems unreal that she isn't any more, she will be so sadly missed.
Vi was responsible for so many extra mural events at STL. Many of you were members of the Tuesday Club which moved location as existing ones closed-up. It started in the STL Pavilion; then moved to the Mayflower and then to the Harlow Museum. Always a selection of most unusual and interesting speakers, quizzes and always a raffle. Vi was great on Raffles. It was one of the few disagreements we ever had - selling a “strip” of tickets for £1 later £5. I pointed out that buying a strip did not increase one’s probability of winning just used more paper!!
She was such a thoughtful person, always remembered people’s birthdays and important anniversaries.
In recent years one of her projects was Shoe boxes. You’d go in her office
in November time and the whole place would be full of boxes packed with toys,
clothes and things for children.
Perhaps one of her most absorbing projects was the rebuilding of the Turing Bombe which is now on display at Bletchley Park and was, I believe, the one shown in the Enigma film. I do not have enough information to do it justice. Vi was involved with the Bombe rebuild before I even heard about it, and had already arranged, with the help of Gordon Harris, to obtain Nortel funding, also assistance from the model shop in producing some mechanical parts.
Vi arranged for a large table to be constructed in the basement of the conference centre, for manufacture of the many cableforms needed for the project.
I am aware that I will have left many areas of Vi life uncovered. Time is too short to include them all.
Vi - busy in her office.
We need now to be here for Brian. I remember when my wife died there was this big hole in my life. In a way I was fortunate I was still working and had responsibilities to my Division and so the treadmill of life kept me going. Brian is retired and much of his life was running Vi from one event to another. He’s going to miss her and it’s up to us to gang together/to work together to support him.
Brian Edwards (eulogy read at Vi's funeral)
Return to top of page
The following emails posted on the QCC listserver serve as an obituary to Kenneth Corfield
To STL QCC members
Sir Kenneth Corfield’s death on the 11th January at the age of 91 has been announced.
Many will remember him as Chairman of STC at the time when STC was split off from the ITT sale to Alcatel and STC became a UK quoted company.
Ian Vance MBE FREng FIET
President STL Quarter Century Club
Thanks for your message bringing news that I, at least, was quite unaware of. I last saw Ken when he and Lillian Archer - who died some years ago - came to my Alec Reeves Memorial Lecture at Imperial College (along with several other members of this list).
A quick search via Google reveals, extraordinary, no obituary or any other notice that I can discover. There has certainly been nothing in The Guardian, the paper I read daily. This doesn't wholly surprise me since I have always believed that Ken was - to employ George Bush's famous malapropism - somewhat misunderestimated. The acquisition of ICL was a hugely important move which, if correctly understood (within and without the two companies) and properly implemented could have led to the creation of Britain's first true information technology business. That it didn't do so reflected in part the fact that Ken's understanding of where technology was moving was way ahead of most other people's. But the 'merger' was also poorly handled on all sides - not least, I'm ashamed to say, on the PR front (though, in our defence, I believe those of us who had responsibility in that area were neither properly briefed or imaginatively directed). Mind you, one of the things I'm proudest of from those days is the interview I arranged between Ken and the late great Brian Redhead who elicited from him the best account of what he believed the merger to be about that I ever read or heard. I wish it had been more widely circulated.
All that said, it is also the case that the company had by then become bloated and a little self-satisfied. I remember an FT journalist (whose name I've forgotten though Mike Copland will know) saying he realised STC was on the skids the first time he saw the 8' purpose-built rosewood dining table in the rather luxurious directors' suite on the 9th floor. In that context, I always remember going to a meeting at the Science Museum with Mike Watson, then ICL's Technical Director, and being surprised that he was happy to travel by the obvious route - the District Line. I don't think any STC director from that time even knew what the tube was!
Heigh ho: those were the days.
All the best,
STC HQ PR Manager 1975-85
Strange. I was thinking about him at the start of this year (for no known reason) and wondering if he was still with us. Sadly he was, but only just.
I suspect that the journo to whom David refers was Guy de Jonquieres, who was the tech/business man at the time - or his oppo Jason Crisp (last heard of at Barclays de Zoete Wedd, in whose plush dining room he was deputed by whomever of the STC New Order to persuade me to stay on. Flattering but too late!)
As David writes, a man ahead of his time, arguably by a decade or two. I can find no reference to his death and wikipedia, usually full of info you never thought you would need, does not have him either. A job for someone. Which suggests that there may not even be a memorial service for him?
The journal Amateur Photographer has just published an obituary, which may come as a surprise to those who might not have known of Corfield's expertise and reputation in the world of photography - see: sir-kenneth-corfield-founder-of-last-successful-british-camera-range
It's been interesting to read all the comments on Sir Ken, coupled to such a momentous time for STC. My memories include;
- prior to the 'convergence' of STC and ICL there was numerous discussions between ITT and DEC to create a world wide IT company. Shame they didn't come off, it might have saved both companies! Especially since DEC had the basis of the Internet before anyone else. Instead the future was left to Google and Facebook.
- when Sir Ken was ousted, Lord Keith offered the job to Rob Wilmot of ICL (he with the yellow socks). He wanted a £1m to do it. No chance! As a result we had a dose of GEC management with the predictable consequences. Cost reduction, sell the valuables, fire the rest.
- ITT becomes a hotel chain and exits Telecoms. STL was too big for STC and ICL didn't want/need us. Mike Watson of ICL, yes he used the tube, was offered the MD role of STL but turned it down. Shame. He was a good man, a very good brain and could have done great things with the skills in Harlow. Instead STL had to sell its bodies to balance the books. Mike? He was cast into the wilderness.
- Nortel with too much R&D and manufacturing buys an STC with more of the same. Lots of money is spent perfecting the past and buying second rate data companies instead of merging with Cisco. Instead Nortel follows the path of DEC.
There's a good book called Accidental Empires that describes the evolution of Silicon Valley as a series of mistakes that turned out well but were unplanned. Old story now. The sequel should be about well intentioned, expensive but ultimately disastrous mergers. The list is endless and the lessons never learned.
There is an Interesting website about Ken's early life and his involvement in cameras called The Corfield Story by Bev Parker
One of Kenneth Corfields design of cameras The Corfield Periflex Camera features in the BBC "History of The World" website.
A more detailed article on the design of Ken's original Periflex camera can be found here.
He was appointed General Manager of the I.T.T. components group in 1968 and soon became Vice President and Director of I.T.T. Europe. In 1970 he became Managing Director of S.T.C. and in 1974 was elected Deputy Chairman to the Board of S.T.C., and appointed Senior Officer for I.T.T. U.K. He became Chairman and Chief Executive of S.T.C. in 1979. In 1980 he was awarded a Knighthood for his services to export.
Apart from Ken' involvement in cameras and his years with STC, Ken was also heavily involved with the Engineering Council. He became the first Chairman at the council's inauguration in November 1981, and their first meeting took place in the boardroom of STC House in Aldwych with George Heard of STC acting as secretary. Ken remained chairman until May 1985, and under his stewardship significant progress was made in implementing the Engineering Council’s vision “to advance education in, and to promote the science and practice of, engineering (including relevant technology) for the public benefit and thereby to promote industry and commerce in our United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”. You can read a detailed account of Ken's activities in "An Engine for Change" - A Chronicle of The Engineering Council by Colin Chapman and Jack Levy.
Click here to see the obituary which appeared in The Telegraph on 6th February
To see a photograph of Kenneth Corfield's obituary which appeared in The Times on 19th February, click here
Return to top of page
(Reproduced from The Harlow Star, Thursday, December 10th, 2015)
Friends and family mourn community stalwart.
The community of Harlow has lost one of its most dedicated supporters following the death this week of former councillor Martin Lawn.
Mr Lawn, of Tye Green Village, died in Princess Alexandra Hospital on Tuesday following a short illness. He was 78.
A member of the Harlow Development Corporation and former leader of Harlow Council back in the 1970s, Mr Lawn also chaired the Harlow Hospitals Trust and was serving chairman of the Harlow Health Centres Trust.
Mr Lawn moved to Harlow in the early 1960s after hearing about the developing new town from resident John Moore.
The two men became great friends and Mr Moore, who also served as a Harlow councillor, was best man when Mr Lawn married local journalist Pat Roberts in 1974.
Mr Lawn had a long career with STL in Harlow, rising to technical director. He then went on to become finance director with the old Essex Family Health Services Authority. A former governor of Mark Hall school, he was also active in running the Harlow branch of the Woodcraft Folk children’s activities organisation, and in helping to run and maintain the Gibberd Garden.
“Martin was totally committed to the community of Harlow,” said his wife. “He was also a kind and loving husband, father and grandfather. We‘re all going to miss him so much.”
Friend and former colleague Mike Danvers said: “He was a towering figure who fought hard to establish many of the services we take for granted today.”
Mr Lawn is survived by wife Pat, sons Ben and Sam, granddaughter Nora Robin and brother Chris. His twin sister, Tessa, predeceased him.
Gordon Henshall, for STL QCC
Return to top of page
Roger Williamson graduated in Physics from UCL and joined STL in 1968. He worked on electromechanical channel filters under Albert Russen, and in 1972 he joined my Passives & Hybrids Dept to work on integrated crystal filters under Tony Truelove. The aim was to reduce the number of individual quartz resonators used in channel filters by integrating as many resonators on a single piece of quartz. Tony and Roger developed a triple pole resonator, involving some complex mathematics, and Quartz Crystal Division (QCD) then set the task of developing a control system to enable the resonators to achieve pre-set frequencies during the process of depositing the silver electrodes. Roger undertook this task with his usual enthusiasm, utilising his knowledge of electronics, and built an experimental system to control the deposition of the three pairs of resonators, and integrated it into a piece of production equipment. To achieve this he spent many weeks at QCD, and successfully demonstrated the system to QCD management and the STL group.
Another memory of Roger’s contribution to QCD at Leeds, concerned the metallisation of blocks of glass and the bonding of wafers of PZT (lead zirconate titanate) to it by soldering. The blocks of glass were to be used as glass delay lines, and after soldering on the PZT, the block was cut into a series of thin slices using a multiple-blade saw. Problems had arisen with the deposition of the metallisation on the glass block and subsequent soldering, and Roger was able to improve the process using his expertise gained from the bonding of PZT to electromechanical filters that he had worked on in his first days at STL.
In the early 1980s Roger worked in David Pitt’s group in my department, working on novel applications of fibre optics in industrial applications (David Pitt developed Oilcon, a system for detecting oil in water in ships’ bilge discharge, which is still in production in Holland).
Roger then transferred to a group on the systems side, but I have been unable to establish which one from colleagues – if anyone reading these notes is familiar with this work, perhaps they could add some details.
Outside of STL, Roger was a keen on the theatre and was a member of the Harlow Moot House Players, both as an actor and in set design. In later years he was a member of choirs in Harlow, Saffron Walden and Cambridge. He also was an accomplished sculptor in steel and wood.
In 2009 Roger was diagnosed with abdominal cancer for which he received many courses of chemotherapy, but the cancer invaded many organs, and after the last invasion he undertook no further treatment and died on 27th December 2015, aged 67.
Dr Peter Graves
I can't really add a lot about Roger's technical career except to say that he was incredibly helpful to me when, as a new young grad, I needed help with many aspects of crystallography. Roger also provided a lot of help to me when I was trying to do novel things with sputtered thin films. I learnt that he was someone who was willing to listen and help even though I was out of my depth for much of the time.
Much later on, when I was the VP for the Harlow site and suffering from the
stress of all the rounds of redundancy, Roger was someone whose irrepressible
good humour helped keep me sane and alive.
When he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Roger displayed a calm acceptance and determination to carry on enjoying whatever life he had left (5 years amazingly), which I found truly admirable and inspiring. He was a really good friend right to the end.
Return to top of page