27 Oct 2016 – ‘Made in Letchworth’ by Brian, Andy, Don and Richard

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Brain, G8GHR organised a display of electronic products made in Letchworth and his presentation included histories of Harry Grindle Matthews, Bowyer Lowe, Foster Instruments, Scopex and radio case designs by David Ogle.

Except for Scopex and Ogle Designs, these companies were started soon after the establishment of Letchworth Garden City in 1903. Brian detailed their history and the men behind the products and how they fared.

Don, G4LOO told of his connection with Letchworth through his involvement with the Power Station (opened in 1907) which at that time supplied DC power to the factories and a few shops. Don told of the changes through the years but didn’t actually say when he started working there. Obviously not from 1907!

There were numerous changes through the years until the large gas turbine (installed in 1960) was finally decommissioned and the building was demolished in 2000.  (Don retired about 13 years later.)

The British Tabulating Machine Co. moved to Letchworth in 1920 and Andy, G8ATD started his apprenticeship there in 1965.  Andy explained the various stages the company went through and eventually emerged as ICL.   Eventually, ICL was acquired by  Fujitsu and that was the end of the ICL brand. Andy said it was a story of how Tabulators came to Letchworth and left with out a trace!

Last but not least, Richard, G3NII told of forming a company with three others in 1971 located  in the Spirella building (which was built at Letchworth in three stages between 1912 and 1920) before moving to purpose built accommodation in 1974. They started with the name Quadriga Ltd. after the Roman chariots pulled by four horses, but  later settled on the name Quadrina as it involved minimal changes to their letterhead. They specialised in flow meters measuring gasses or liquids for industry. Volatile gases need special handling in measurement since the volume will vary with temperature and pressure.  Richard now spends time keeping their old systems running since they perform better than modern replacements.

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