Associated Companies in over 175 towns in Great Britain and in Barbados, Bermuda. Canada, Ceylon, Guyana,
Hong Kong, Jamaica, Malaya, Malta, Singapore, South Africa, Trinidad and West Africa etc.
Relay House Westwood, Broadstairs, Kent, CT10 2PX
Tel: Thanet 61561
I joined Rediffusion at Thanet in January 1948, as a wireman working on the two programme, sound only network, after being interviewed by Frank Austen. My weekly wage was to be, £3-8-6 plus a cost of living sum of £1-3-0, I still have the letter confirming this.
George Blackburn was the foreman and some months later I was one of a crew sent to Maidstone daily to work on the ‘phantom program’, a system for an extra sound only program, without re wiring the network. The next year was employed adding extra brackets to the pole route from Hartsdown in Margate to Westgate with an extra pair of pothead insulators either side of the existing brackets and then stringing the wires.
In1952. after working on domestic installations in Thanet, I was in Deal under Eddie Gargett, building a new four program network from Mill Hill into the rest of Deal town.
In 1953 I was at Hastings, running a cable link on the Trolley bus poles from the out of town aerial site, to a hotel on the seafront at St: Leonards, in time for the Coronation, this time under the manager, John Sharp.
I then became a charge hand in Thanet, rewiring to four programmes under Mr Boughton, the new manager of Rediffusion Thanet. Television was then the thing and I was working long hours for some years, gaining experience in all kinds of operations, supervising contractors laying ducting all over Thanet, then drawing in the cables. We erected tilted wire aerials at a new site at Lydden, Two bays, each of four, 80 foot poles. That was some task! Then I was jointing the new co-axial cables all over Thanet, underground and overhead.
I was then appointed to assist Sid Faulkener who was then the network engineer.
In 1971 there was a postal strike and for Rediffusion, with all of its overseas interests at stake, it was necessary to keep in touch with branches worldwide. It was arranged for recorded programmes and mail to be delivered to Thanet branch and I was designated to travel by hovercraft, to Calais two or three times each week to post mail onward and to collect the in coming mail from our ‘poste restante’ box. There were many other passengers doing the same thing and it was not a good time of the year to travel by hovercraft, luckily, being a good sailor, I was never seasick, but on some trips I was the only one without my face in a sick bag. The journey times varied according to the sea state from 40mins to one & half hours.
I really enjoyed this break from routine, eating meals at different cafes in Calais, and I was sorry when it finished. This was before duty free allowances came in, another chap from another firm was arrested for bringing in 400 cigarettes and I never saw him again. In February, decimal currency was introduced and I took some new coins over for the postal workers who were interested to see them.
I’m a bit hazy about the dates but later I was sent to Folkestone to sort out the crews who were working there and again building the underground network as far as Sandgate, this task lasted nearly three years and I was under Bill Bishop who had been appointed manager there. I was promoted to network engineer Thanet in 1975 and was there until redundancy in 1985 with a paltry pension of £16 per week after 37 years of service! Try looking for a job at age 60! I did find one that lasted until after I was 65. Somewhere in all this, I was at Lewes for a few weeks, starting a new network and then I was back to Thanet.
Memories of Rediffusion Thanet - By Harry King