GPO Radio Laboratory – Backwell – Then and Now April 2017

Help Support Derelict Places:

Iainiain

Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2021
Messages
7
Reaction score
0
you will have to tell me his name.. or maybe where he worked there? In a lab, the workshop? or maybe he did special investigations to telephone faults?
His names cliff scrase, also john davis, wally etc. I remember most of them too. Camping etc
 
Joined
Oct 29, 2021
Messages
3
Reaction score
1
Location
North Somerset
Yes his names cliff scrase. Worked in the labs. With wally, john knight and others
Wally? Was he the cook?
Hi Roger, did you work at Backwell? these recent posts have been brought to my attention as we are trying to get the information accepted by BT Archives and it would be nice to know where they came from and are there more, exciting times.
regards Cliff Scrase
Would that include the Hiroshima bench incident?
 
Joined
Oct 29, 2021
Messages
3
Reaction score
1
Location
North Somerset
Some of the assorted misfits that populated the site after the research folk left in the early 70s
Ronny Hinchcliffe, Colin Robbins, Martin Holder, "little" Dave Burdon, Wally Badz, Leila Coles (visiting Xmas chef ) , Bob South, Dennis Wholehouse, John Davis, "Big" Dave Cox and Bob Wilson .
 

Attachments

  • xmas3.jpeg
    xmas3.jpeg
    868.1 KB · Views: 26
  • MartinHer.jpeg
    MartinHer.jpeg
    1.1 MB · Views: 24
  • WallyMartin.jpeg
    WallyMartin.jpeg
    941.3 KB · Views: 23
  • Xmas2.jpeg
    Xmas2.jpeg
    809.1 KB · Views: 26
  • Xmas1.jpeg
    Xmas1.jpeg
    915.4 KB · Views: 22
  • Lab4.jpeg
    Lab4.jpeg
    726.6 KB · Views: 24
Last edited:
Joined
Oct 27, 2021
Messages
8
Reaction score
2
In 1939, with the outbreak of war, some staff were moved from the Post Office research laboratories at Dollis Hill, London to a small laboratory at Backwell Hill, Somerset and another at Rugby.

At Backwell they attempted to foil the German air raids over Bristol. Their roles included beam bending. This involved projecting beams around Bristol to provide intersections to the German beams in the surrounding countryside. Fuel dumps were placed where these beams intersected and when the incendiary bombs were dropped the theory was that these dumps would catch fire, and the heavy bombs would be dropped on the ensuing fire away from the city.

On one occasion a member of the staff was sent to research German radio transmissions. They posed as a crew member on a cement barge travelling between England and the Netherlands. They got caught in a storm, the hatch to the hold was destroyed and water entered the cement hold. The barge was wrecked on the Scottish Coast, but everyone managed to survive.

After the War the staff at the Backwell Hill Radio Research Station were employed on communications research.

This included measuring the noise from clouds using a dish located on Bodmin Moor. They then worked on ways of filtering out this noise

View attachment 509463
Photo of the Dish on Bodmin Moor circa 1958

This research helped pave the way for satellite communications.

The staff at Backwell Hill were then heavily involved in the first transatlantic TV broadcast from Goonhilly Down to America in the 1960s (Telstar). Their role was to design and build the equipment and dish to test Arthur, the first dish at Goonhilly. When the first TV transmission happened on the 23 July 1962 staff from Backwell Hill were operating Arthur. They had to manually align the dish with the point that the Telstar came over the horizon and then using gears (no computers) follow it for 20 minutes until it disappeared over the other horizon.

The Radio Research Station at Backwell Hill was closed in the early 1970s and the staff transferred to Martlesham Heath, Suffolk where they were involved in projects that included research into suitable wavelengths for mobile phone communications.

(Source: Discussion with the late Ted Jarvis 2008. Ted was a senior member of the Backwell Hill staff)
hi I worked at Backwell research labs since 1955 up to its close when staff went to Martlesham. The late Ted Jervis was my boss for some time, as was Sid Pitham who became OC at Goonhilly.
Most of the pictures of Backwell site are mine.
A small group who have got together the history of the Research Labs Backwell are trying to get them recorded but BT so far do not respond.
Most of the technical history written I believe to be incorrect.
I knew Roger Wood who joined from university and Mr Wilson , Peter Mountain, Mac, RV Hinchliffe .
John Knight Lab 1, and 2, and 3, and 4 when it became a repair centre under Bristol Region.
 

Roger Wood

Member
Joined
Jan 30, 2022
Messages
7
Reaction score
0
Some of the assorted misfits that populated the site after the research folk left in the early 70s
Ronny Hinchcliffe, Colin Robbins, Martin Holder, "little" Dave Burdon, Wally Badz, Leila Coles (visiting Xmas chef ) , Bob South, Dennis Wholehouse, John Davis, "Big" Dave Cox and Bob Wilson .
I see Ronnie Hinchcliffe in your Xmas3.jpg. What a wonderful gentleman!
 

Roger Wood

Member
Joined
Jan 30, 2022
Messages
7
Reaction score
0
hi I worked at Backwell research labs since 1955 up to its close when staff went to Martlesham. The late Ted Jervis was my boss for some time, as was Sid Pitham who became OC at Goonhilly.
Most of the pictures of Backwell site are mine.
A small group who have got together the history of the Research Labs Backwell are trying to get them recorded but BT so far do not respond.
Most of the technical history written I believe to be incorrect.
I knew Roger Wood who joined from university and Mr Wilson , Peter Mountain, Mac, RV Hinchliffe .
John Knight Lab 1, and 2, and 3, and 4 when it became a repair centre under Bristol Region.
We must have worked together then. I think I have some memorabilia somewhere. Probably just notes about the stuff we used to work on. I'll see if I can dig it out.
 

Roger Wood

Member
Joined
Jan 30, 2022
Messages
7
Reaction score
0
I found this list of the folks at Backwell in 1975, when the research group was moved to Martlesham. Seeing the names brings back some of the faces and memories - good times! :)
1975 GPO Backwell names 2.jpg
 

Electric

Veteran Member
Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 23, 2016
Messages
190
Reaction score
150
Location
West Midlands
It's great to see some flesh put on the bones and I love seeing the social history of these sites. The Backwell site is probably still there decaying now, five years ago the mains power was on to some parts. Ouch!
Is your research group in contact with or part of the THG? They might be able to help. I'm a member.
I might have more photos if it helps your project, and hope it goes well.
 

Roger Wood

Member
Joined
Jan 30, 2022
Messages
7
Reaction score
0
It's great to see some flesh put on the bones and I love seeing the social history of these sites. The Backwell site is probably still there decaying now, five years ago the mains power was on to some parts. Ouch!
Is your research group in contact with or part of the THG? They might be able to help. I'm a member.
I might have more photos if it helps your Ed project, and hope it goes well.
No, I didn’t keep up with any of those folks. It would be fascinating to find out what happened and where they all ended up. I’m in California now - been here since 1979.
 

Latest posts

Top