Born in August 1938 to the west of Manchester, I attended Urmston County Council Infants School, followed by a year or two in the associated Primary school, before the family moved in 1949 to Cheadle, in north Cheshire - now counted as part of Greater Manchester and administered by Stockport MBC. From Gatley Primary School I went to Manchester Grammar School in 1950 and started life in the Classical Side in 1 Alpha, followed by 2 Alpha.
This was followed by 2 years in the Science Side, S3L & S4L, before I went on to the Science VIth (Maths) for three years where I gained an entrance to Pembroke College*, Cambridge to read Natural Sciences. However, I first had to do my National Service with basic training at RAF West Kirby, and then from November 1957 to August 1958 I was trained in the RAF at the No 1 Radio Training School at RAF Locking, Weston-super-Mare. From August 1958 through to August 1959, I served in 2nd. TAF, Germany, first at Obernkirchen and then at Scharfoldendorf.
When I started at Cambridge in October 1959, electronics as a separate subject wasn't recognised, so I read Physics (plus Chemistry, Maths and Metallurgy) in the Natural Sciences Tripos Pt I for two years before transferring to the Mechanical Engineering course where I completed my 3 year degree with the Light Current Option of the Electrical Sciences Tripos, Pt II. Before commencing the last year of my degree, I had to satisfy the Engineering Department that I had adequate training in traditional mechanical workshop skills, so I did 8 weeks under close training and supervision at the Wythenshawe establishment of Ferranti Ltd. This was an excellent course, quite intensive, and I still have the set of tools that I made.
After I started work at Elliott Brothers, I attended various short courses to familiarise me with microwave and transistor theory and practice, and much later on Project Management; and Health &Safety, and Environmental matters. Towards the end of my career and as a hobby interest, I took various courses on archaeology and surveying.
MEng lecturer, tutor and assessor
During the 1970s questions began to be raised regarding the quality of engineering graduates which GEC-Marconi was recruiting from the British Universities. The main problem was that nobody expected a graduate to be any real use to industry until after several years of employment, and further that even then they didn't have much idea about project and financial management. The Engineering Director of GEC-Marconi looked round at other countries, and then had discussions with a number of universities with regard to establishing a new type of degree course. The new concept was a joint initiative between the University of Bath, School of Electrical Engineering and GEC-Marconi, and set up a course lasting about five years taking place in both university and industry. Bradford University and a small number of other companies joined in the initiative. Only the best students were accepted and they were rewarded with guaranteed paid employment during the summer term in industry, plus the maximum grant payable before the LEAs reduced their maintenance grant. A Bachelor of Engineering, BEng., was awarded after four years, and this was followed by an MEng after five years and a successful project and thesis. Uniquely, industry was to share the ability to fail students who didn't live up to its standards. I took part in the course as both an industrial lecturer, tutor and also as an industrial assessor for Bath and Bradford Universities and for 10 years visited Bath and Bradford every term. Similar courses were started at Portsmouth Poly and the University College of Wales at Bangor.
I gave the inaugural lectures at Bradford, Portsmouth and Bangor. Our training was too successful in that the merits of the course and the emphasis on training the students in both engineering and sound project management, meant that very many of our students were lured into the financial sector which was able to pay 50% higher starting salaries than industry. We sustained this loss for several years but inevitably with the squeeze on our income, support for the courses ceased. Those we did retain rapidly advanced through the promotion stakes and did very well compared with graduates from the ordinary intake.
Memorable Lecturers during my time at Cambridge
Physics - A B Pippard, Anthony Hewish, John Michael Ziman
Metallurgy - Anthony Kelly
Engineering - Prof Charles Oatley (scanning electron microscope)
* [June 2009] I've just attended the formal luncheon at Pembroke College to mark our matriculation 50 years ago, back in Autumn 1959. Nearly 60 of us altogether including The Master, and members of the College Development Office. Some photos