Interviewed in March at 1 Priory Road, Dover, I started work with Rediffusion on 1st April 1959 as a boy wireman.
One of the first jobs I was given each morning was to test and record the condition of network feeders for short
circuits, earths and interlines, any of which would affect the networks performance.
If any was found, I with ladder, Ohm meter and another wireman would then walk along the network tracing and
rectifying the fault.
Other work at that time involved checking the feeders in the seafront area as the salt air was corroding the aluminium
screen which if unable to bond through and seal was replaced with copper screen cable.
At that time I was envious of the feeder crews installing the new feeder cables as these wiremen used handcarts to
carry ladders, rolls of cable and tools to their place of work - 'pure luxury' but with Dover's hills, very hard work.
I later attended courses at Poulton-le-Fylde, Blackpool (by steam train) for knowledge of the vision network and gain
company qualifications which enabled me to work on network maintenance.
With the expanding network I then joined the two maintenance men Bill Solly and Frank Pettifer and when attained driving
age the company paid for lessons to enable me to drive a van. This eventually led me to be promoted for network
maintenance shift and standby duties.
Anecdote: In Lez Miller's Dover EIC profile, I was the maintenance wireman who was called out that night when the
yacht pulled the cables down on Castle Hill.
This caused loss of service to the kiosk (which incidently is still there) affecting the large block of Gateway Flats (230)
and Dover's Sea Front area.
Also, Bill and Frank were the two men in the pole incident, Bill being the one who fainted on the pole.
But I digress...
Dover's original network was Squad cables 18 and 22 Gauge being two vision BBC and London ITV and two radio Home
and Light Programmes. When Anglia ITV replaced London, and Southern ITV and BBC2 were to be added, Feeder/Spur
and Sub Junction boxes had to be up-rated with inserts for vision signals and a extra Quad Cable added for Radio Programmes.
I was then given the job of going along feeders and spurs with a M69A Fault Locator rectifying any junction box missed by the wiring crew.
Primary working in Dover but later on as time went by with staff leaving or having retired, I then moved onto maintaining the Deal and Folkestone networks as well.
In 1974 upon completion of 15 years, I received the Long Service Certificate and the company tie. In 1984 I also received the Rediffusion 25 year long service company tie.
I assisted Mr Dave Kemp, Regional engineer with the installation of the new Satellite Headend in Dover which fed via VTR
the new underground routes to Deal and Folkestone when eventually the Off-Air programmes on the networks were changed to Satellite, the Company was then named 'Rediffusion CableVision'.
When Rediffusion ceased as a company the cable network was acquired by Maxwell TV for a few years then onto British
Cable TV, then Metro Cable TV and eventually to be taken over and run by Basildon, Rediffusion, Essex.
The still working networks in Kent comprised of Dover, Deal Folkestone, Hythe, Ramsgate, Margate, Broadstairs,
Canterbury, Ashford, Maidstone, Tonbridge, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Swanley, and Lewes, Hastings St Leonards, Bexhill
and Eastbourne in Sussex along with Basildon in Essex all of which I became familiar with through working on them from time to time.
Later on Basildon also acquired the VHF Networks in Herne Bay, Faversham, Sittingbourne, Gillingham, Rochester,
Chatham and Strood in Kent.
When the majority of the Rediffusion Satellite Networks closed down I transfered as a systems engineer to work on
these networks which went through various company names such as CDA MEDIA, BDTV Communications, CTS Communal Television Services, to lastly Opera Associated Telecom.
Another Anecdote: Frank Austin started the Rediffusion Networks in the Thanet Towns in 1920's, I sadly had the task to switch
off the Receiving Equipment in 2001 when it was the last Satellite town in Kent to close down.
As well as working on those networks, I also maintained the still running Rediffusion networks which due to poor local Off-Air reception in valley's and large blocks of flats.had to be maintained for new and existing subscribers.
Local kiosks were changed into Headends (FC 100's & Mini receivers) to feed these networks where aerials could not be
installed in the change over to Satellite programmes. These mainly consisted of area's in Dover, Folkestone, Seabrook,
Hythe, Tonbridge, Maidstone, Birchington, Broadstairs, Ramsgate, Margate, Swanley in Kent and Lewes in Sussex.
Spares for cable and subscribers installation equipment along with the FC 100 receivers the Mini Headend and
repeater amplifiers was becoming a problem, this was overcome on a make due and mend regime. To save travelling
time some 150 - 200 miles per day I kept essential stores and equipment in various kiosks in each town. In the end my
Ford Escort Estate had done 290,000 miles!
Most of these networks were still running and being maintained right up and until the death of the owner in
August 2007 when the company ceased trading and closed down.
Being the last working Rediffusion engineer in Kent on these networks I was due to retire in November 2007 my 65th
Now, looking back, I remember some of the original staff and colleagues at Dover - Mr Ellis and later Mr Gargett manager,
Lez Miller EIC, Bert Goldsmith wiring foreman, Mr Ruckplanning, Peter Hay equipment, Bill & Frank network maintenance,
Wiring and Installations, Brian Staveley, Fred Finch, Ron & Alan Ockenden and Dickie Deadman.
TV Workshop & engineers Tom Smith & his dog Peggy, Peter Wood, the two Alan Rogers, Mick Thomas, Dick English, Ted
Ellis and Ron Napier.
Telephone & R/T operators Janet Lund, Jean Walters & Arthur Mannal.
It may be nostalgia looking back or just remembering through rose coloured glasses but probably as in most branches at
that time there seemed to be a close lasting friendship of working colleagues, we even had a cricket team and a social
club with organized days out.
Some of us meet once a year for a lunch time reunion, but sadly numbers are beginning to decrease.
BOB NORRIS: MY REDIFFUSION HISTORY 1959/1987 then to 2007.
Below you will see some of the Memorabilia from Bob's Collection - Click on the thumbnails for a larger image