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Directorate of Telecommunications
Life Working in D of Tels

My name is Michael Leigh always known as Mike to my colleagues; I joined the then Home Office Regional Wireless Service station at Stanton-on the-Wolds on or about the 6th June 1960 and resigned through voluntary redundancy on the 23rd March 1990.

Some of my former colleagues may recall me as having had the  great privilege of representing them as a Civil Service Trade Union representative for the Wireless Technician grades – I then subsequently became the Senior Wireless Technician’s representative from 1983 – 87.

Stanton Depot when I joined comprised the Officer in Charge, the Regional Wireless Engineer, Mr Cooper (I cannot recall his first name. His second in command, the Chief Wireless Technician, was
Mr Baker, who went on to become the RWE at Kippax Depot.  The reason as to why I cannot remember the first names of these officers is because you had to address these senior officers at that time by their Mr and surname tag!

Stanton Wireless Depot was the first Regional Wireless Depot to be so constituted.  I believe through learning the history of the service from officers already serving in the establishment at the time of my joining, they had informed me that a pioneering gentlemen by the name of Mr Old originally began experiments with Police Radio communications just prior to the second World War with the then Nottingham City Police Force.  In 1946 there was what became known as the re-constitution of the service and it was at this juncture that the original title of the Home Office Regional Wireless Service was born, whereby the grades were designated at Wireless Technician, Senior Wireless Technician and Regional Wireless Technician.  Upon my original recruitment the RWE was God in his own territory only directly responsible to the then boss, Commander Best, where his headquarters were at Harrow?

The re-constitution was the major step as this was the commencement of the Wireless Grades becoming Crown Civil Servants. From then on there was controversy, in that technicians had to face an Establishment Civil Service Board where some of the then time served staff either passed the board or failed the same.  If you failed you became a non-established Civil Servant with no pension rights but served in the appropriate grades to that of the established members. These boards were quite infrequent at the time and yours truly did not become established until 1971. 

Equipment in use in the early part of the 1960’s

The first day at Stanton is vividly recalled by the amount of noise emanating from the main workshop.  I discovered that this was due to the soak testing and repairs of the Pye PTC114 receiver and transmitter units, which when fitted into a vehicle were mounted into a solid cradle.  The noise was being generated by two rotary converters that supplied both the RX and TX units with the necessary HT for the all valve units to function.

Alongside these outgoing units at that time around 1960 – 62 the BCC mobiles came into use.  Again, these units were very large and were also fitted into cradles in vehicles.  These units were more silent as the HT was supplied by small vibrating packs within each unit (due to the elapse of time I am unable to name these units correctly).  I do recall however that often the vibrating vanes within the units could stick and cause a meltdown of components.

Another landmark was the introduction of the Cossor 108 motorcycle mobile.  Until then units involved at that time were the L77/88, which were all valve operated, where these units required constant attention, as motorcycles when hitting a bump in the road would inevitably cause frequent valve failure!  The new Cossor mobile was a hybrid unit, in my experience the valves in these units were more robust than those used in the L77/78 configuration. As a matter of interest, the Cossor 108 mobile can be seen fitted to the motorcycle in the 1960’s early series of Heartbeat.

I do hope that I have not bored you all with my reminiscences. If the facts that I recall are not quite accurate, then all I can comment upon is that my memories extend from possibly the youngest person to join the then Home Office Regional Wireless Service in 1960 at the tender age of 21 year’s. Whereas, I write this article approaching the 70 year’s of age mark!

In conclusion, the D of Tels produced some of the finest engineers, and I was and am still proud of my association with this lost department.

Mike Leigh
Wollaton, Nottingham
8th December 2008.

Acknowledgement: Mick Leigh

page updated: 22/07/19


Taken at the Home Office in 1982 in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the splitting of the Home Office responsibilities between the Foreign and Commonwealth office and the Home Office. I was introduced as the then Chairman of the Home Office Departmental Whitley Council.

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