Working at Marconi Instruments

Reginald Law


My home town was Coventry from which I moved to St. Albans when I married Elsie in 1945.


I firstly went to the local employment office where I was sent for an interview at Marconi Instruments Ltd. who produced electrical equipment.  In my previous occupation at Morris Motors (Engine factory) I was employed as a clerical assistant having worked there in the engineering dept., before the war started.  Due to my having a severe injury from the war I was only able to do clerical work in the production office.  This was noted in my interview so I was offered a position of Progress Clerk, later to become Assistant Supervisor of the production office.


Marconi in those days was split up all around St   Albans.  The production office, instrument assembly and spray departments were in the old Heath and Heather building which was near to the City Station signal box.  The engineering department was where the café is at Morrison.  Packing and dispatch was in Avery’s building at the top of Oswald Road.


For transport they had an electric van, similar to the old milk float, for movement of items between the departments.


I believe the main office and other departments were at High Wycombe and that merged with St Albans a few years later.  Before the merger, the whole company moved into a wartime storage building at Longacres where it remained until it closed.


A further operation in production was electrical chrome plating which the St Albans Plating Company carried out, on what is now the site of Kwik Fit.


As a weekly salaried member of staff I was not obliged to clock in although hourly paid staff were; my weekly rate being approximately £7.00


In 1949 I was admitted to hospital for an operation on my left elbow which was successful but in 1950 I was stricken with polio from which I recovered


I then changed my employment to the Sphere works as a time and motion study engineer.  The Sphere works in those days occupied the whole of the Campfield industrial area. It was  a two storey building: the lower front was the machine shop, the lower middle was the assembly shop and tool room, the upper floor was Office Admin., work  planning and a drawing office.  At the lower rear was the panel shop whilst  at the back was the polishing and electroplating shop.  Across the driveway was a Perspex mould shop and the works canteen which was staffed by a catering team


The company’s main product was street lighting and also switchgear for the Royal Navy


The working day was 8.00am and hourly paid.  Admin staff worked from 9 am until 5.30pm each day including Saturday morning for production staff.  The Sphere works  had a managing director, a production manager plus a parts buying manager.  The departments were staffed by a working foreman and charge hand for production and discipline. Discipline was somewhat strict, in timekeeping and quality control, with the workers having the option of joining a Trade Union which met with management at varying intervals.


As in wartime, men and women worked side-by-side operating the same type of machinery etc. and in both companies the working conditions were good.  Working together created many friendships and loyalty to the department in which they worked.  The Sphere Works had a canteen but they did not have an organised social club.

I left the Sphere Works in the late 1950s and went to Thomas Mercer at the bottom of St Stephens Hill and later to the British Red Cross in London as a senior training officer.

Throughout my life I have worked in various types of community work (i.e. British Legion, St Albans City Hospital, National Hospital Service Reserve, Army Cadets, British Red Cross Society (of which I am a Life member) also Neighbourhood Watch to a total of 60 years plus, and I am Life President of St Albans District Neighbourhood Watch Association. A lifetime of interest with the satisfaction of helping others.


Back to Written History