April 2016

History of Bawdsey Radar and "Chain Home" -
David Heath

The Chairman introduced David Heath, from the Bawdsey Radar Trust, to the members to tell us of the history of Bawdsey Radar and "Chain Home" which he illustrated with slides.

Bawdsey Radar Group was set up in 2003 following an opening of the Transmitter Block to the public. They only expected a handful of people, but nine hundred and fifty turned up. The station was then featured in the BBC2 Restoration programme in 2004 and polled 108,279 votes coming 4th and only 5000 short of the winner. Following this a Heritage Lottery Grant was obtained to create a verbal history and in Jan 2016 a further grant was obtained to fully restore the Transmitter Block and to provide a Visitor Centre and Exhibition. The Group became a Trust in 2008.

In the 1930's Britain was vulnerable to invasion and required an early warning system to counter an attack. The only thing that it had was acoustic mirrors but these only had a range of 25 miles and with the speed of aircraft ever increasing, only gave a few minutes warning and could not distinguish between friend and foe.

What was wanted was a "Death Ray". A competition was set up with a prize of £1,000 to someone who could produce one, but calculations would prove that this would not be possible.

It had been noticed that radio reception of the BBC broadcasts was distorted when an aircraft was in the vicinity of a receiver and so the "Daventry Experiment" was conducted and proved that the detection of the reflected waves idea worked. Experiments followed at Orfordness but soon moved to Bawdsey where there was higher ground and this would enable a greater range. Developments proceeded under the guidance of Watson Watt and many others and the range was steadily extended. Radar works by transmitting a pulse of radio waves and listening for the returning echo of the wave bouncing off an object. In the mid 1930's they were using powers of 350kw at frequencies of 20-50Mhz and it was possible to detect both range and bearing of the returning signals. Identification of Friend or Foe (IFF) followed together with Airborne and then Mobile Radar.

By the start of the WW2 the Chain Home system was in place, comprising numerous transmitting/receiving stations around the coast of Britain, all linked synchronously together so that adjacent stations would not interfere with each other. The radar operators were mostly women who fed the information to the plotters. Information of impending attacks was then fed to the appropriate airfields for the aircraft to scramble and take on the enemy. It was of immense importance in winning the Battle of Britain.

David described these operations in great detail, not only that of Radar but also how it was use during the war. The Trust has recorded interviews from people who worked at Bawdsey during its life time and transcripts and books of the history of the site. The site will currently be shut for the restoration work to take place, but is expected to be open, restored and with the new Visitor Centre and Exhibition next year.

Following many questions the Chairman thanked David for a most interesting talk and the members showed their appreciation in the usual way.

Visit their website at www.bawdseyradar.org.uk for more information.

March 2016

The Story of the Ipswich Work Houses. -
Ray Whitehand

The evenings lecture was given by Ray Whitehand on Caring for Ipswich's Poor - The Sorry of the Ipswich Work Houses. Ray talk began his talk by describing the situation that lead to there being so many poor people, there were changes taking place in society that meant the there was no longer work for many. They began their existence in the county in the second half of the 16th century. Local Parishes were made responsible for providing Work Houses. A local tax was raised called the Poor Rate, to provide for the provision and administration by the Parish Vestry. Ray concentrated on the parishes of Ipswich listing them all and their size, describing how they were run and the conditions the poor lived in. The poor were encouraged to improve themselves and seek work to be able to support themselves. There were the destitute, the work shy and the undeserving poor. Parliament passed a number of laws over the period of 400 years. Some were, the Act for the Relief of the Poor of 1601, Workhouse Test Act of 1723, Relief of the Poor Act 1782, Poor Law Amendment Act 1834. The last Work House in Ipswich to close in 1930 was Heathfield which went on to became part of the Ipswich Heath Road Hospital at the north end of the site..

Following questions the Chairman thanked Ray for a most interesting talk and the members showed their appreciation in the usual way.

February 2016

The Work of the River Gipping Trust -
Spencer Greystrong

The evenings lecture was given by the Treasurer, Spencer Greystrong, of the River Gipping Trust on their activities in the preservation of the River Gipping between Ipswich and Stowmarket. in particular that part of the river that formed the Stowmarket Navigation. The Ipswich branch of the Inland Waterways Association first started taking an interest in the river in the late 1970's and is now being continued by the River Gipping Trust.

Spencer described the its early history to the present day and the work that the Trust has been doing the restore the waterway. Before the days of steam the river was used to carry coal, slate, gun cotton, hops, barley, beer and agricultural products between Ipswich and Stowmarket. The charges were 1p/ton/mile downstream and 1/2p and upstream with a minimum charge of 35ton load, manure went free! Barges were horse drawn.

He described how the various locks were constructed, some were built of brick and others of turf and timber. There are 15 locks between Stowmarket and Ipswich. There were many pictures of the locks before and after reconstruction and he described the work that was done on each. A bywash has to be created to divert the river around the lock before the work of restoration can take place. There is at least one lock that they have been unable to work on due to the fact that the land owner will not allow them accesses over his land They have also rebuilt the odd bridge

Some of the locks are Grade II listed and the Trust have received several awards for the work they have done.

Following questions the Chairman thanked Spencer for a most interesting talk and the members showed their appreciation in the usual way.

January 2016

200th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo -
Steve Chicken

For his evening, the President, Steve Chicken's talk was on a theme close to his heart, the Battle of Waterloo and his part in the re-enactment of the 200th Anniversary, at Waterloo.

As an ex military man he has always been interested in what it must have been like for the ordinary soldier at the time of Napoleon.

So he joined the 44th East Essex Regiment of Foot to experience life as a soldier.

He began by describing the uniform , which was often made by the colonel's wife and then the musket that was used at that time which was know as a "Brown Bess" flintlock musket. Its barrel was about 58 inches long and it weighed about 10 pounds, firing a half inch ball in a barrel which in essence was a tube with no rifling. Its range was about 50 to 100 yards and not accurate. It was mainly used to provide a barrage of fire against the enemy.

The original battle took place on Sunday 18 June 1815 and the re-enactments at Waterloo took place between

was 18th - 21st June 2015 with some 6000 men taking part. Every thing was as authentic as possible, with the men living in tents, which originally would have housed six. There was an authentic cook house, which would have been the centre of activity providing meals. Some wives were also present as they would have been at that time They would eat informally whilst the officers would "dine" in their own mess.

Horses were used during the enactment but not allowed to mixed with gun powder because the were not used to the noise as they would have been in the 19the Centaury. Apart from the enactments each day, time was also spent practice marching and manoeuvres around the battlefield with pipes and drums, a most evocative experience. The Battle was re-enacted each of the main days for the audience, but in order to "keep the peace" the French were allowed to "win" sometimes. The "Lion Mound" at the battlefield, now commemorates the Battle of Waterloo.

Steve illustrated the talk with many pictures of the occasion which graphically illustrated the ferocity of early 19th Centaury warfare. Asked why he did not play the part of an officer he replied the he had spent his working life telling other people what to do and wanted to be on the other side.

Following many question from the members, the Chairman thanked the President for an informative and most interesting evening's talk and the members showed their appreciation in the usual way.

The 44th East Essex Regiment will be taking part in "95th Rifles Battle of Waterloo" at Ixworth house on the 9/10 April 2016

November 2015

How to convert your Home to an Eco Home -
Professor John Midwinter OBE FREng FRS

We were again privileged to have Professor John Midwinter OBE FREng FRS to speak to the Association, this time on "How to convert your home to an Eco Home".

John's interest in Climate Change started in 2004 and one of the things he has concentrated on is the energy used in his home. This talk is the culmination of several years investigation and work, focusing on the most cost effective practices for him. He asked himself, "What are you going to do about cutting greenhouse gasses used in the home and have a more sustainable life style?" This is a global problem, so what can the individual do?

Our reliance on fuel oil since the 1860s through to the present day has seen it at high price in the early days falling dramatically until in recent years when it rose with OPEC controlling the price. Lately though, it has fallen due to the Middle East pumping more oil than is required, (politically motivated).

A graph of "Energy Returned On Energy Invested" (EROEI), on the other hand started high but has now fallen showing that the oil is now harder to get out of the ground during the latter 20th and early 21st century. Solar Energy on the other hand has a high EROEI. So the end of fossil fuels is fast approaching and fuel oil will only get more expensive.

A typical UK house uses 53% for space heating, 20% for water heating, 6% lighting and 21% for appliances etc. Therefore a significant dent can easily be made in reducing the losses from space and water heating. Lighting has been more or less been taken care of by the use of low energy lamps. Heat lost is through the walls, floor, roof, windows and doors and can be tackled by improving the insulation of each. John's house was four cottages which had been converted into one and has solid walls.

About 40% of the heat lost escapes through the solid walls and therefore it was the most cost efficient to insulate these. The roof had already been insulated. The question was insulate the inside or outside of the walls? The advantage of inside is that the internal space heats up quickly but also cools quickly. On the other hand the advantage of insulating on the outside, the walls now act as a good thermal heat sink and therefore stabilizes the internal temperature and gives a long thermal time constant. External cladding has reduce the heat loss down to about 14% of that of an un-insulated wall. The cladding chosen was supplied by Weber.therm and is about 65mm thick applied to the walls with a screed and rendering on top. This has now reduced the U value of the walls from 1.9 to 0.3. With PV solar panels generating electricity, solar water heating panels providing hot water for most of the time and a log burner in the centre of the house (logs coming from his own trees) he estimates that he has achieved an overall 80% reduction in the use of non-renewable carbon sourced energy.

John illustrated the talk with many slides and facts and after questions the Chairman thanked him for a for a most interesting evening. The members showed their appreciation in the usual way.

October 2015

"Adventures on a Pirate Radio Ship" - Roy Sheeran

The evening's talk was given by our member Roy Sheeran entitled, "Adventures on a Pirate Radio Ship", and illustrated with photographs taken while he was on board the boat the MV Galaxy. This was a former Second World War United States Navy minesweeper, originally named USS Density which had been fitted out for radio broadcasting in Miami, sailed across the Atlantic to the Azores, where the antenna was erected, before final being positioned off the Essex coast.

Roy and his apprentice at the time, John Lait , was invited by their boss of Christy Bros. in Dec '64 to join the crew to help with sorting out the electrical problems on boat. They were able to meet and work with the DJ's Pete Brady, Paul Kaye, David Dennis, Earl Richmond, Tony Windsor, Duncan Johnson, Dave Cash and Kenny Everett, to name the first ones to broadcast and the rest of the boat's crew.

In the early days they had many electrical problems to sort out which were often caused by some thing else other than electrical faults. It was a 24 hour job clocking well over 100 hrs per week working two weeks on and two off. There were no electrical wiring diagrams and very little was labelled, so it was necessary to trace the cabling by hand and on one occasion John did not notice an open hatch in the deck ended up on the deck below. Fortunately he did not hurt himself.

They were also to discover that the power from the radio transmitter was enough to light eight foot fluorescent tubes (without wiring). It was always difficult getting around the ship when the sea was rough especially in a force nine gale, when everything had to be kept running and could not be left until the storm was over.

On one occasion it was necessary to parallel two alternators together which was a thing that Roy had never done, but he found a book explaining how and after a few tries it worked. Another time there was a storm with high winds blowing rain off the wheel house and being sucked into the generator feeding the transmitter so, that did not last long before it burnt out. To keep the transmitter operating was necessary to go down into the bilge, wearing rubber boots which filled up with oily water, under the main switch panel and switch supplies. This meant disconnecting and reconnecting the transmitter supply cables to another of the ship's alternators but it also meant that they had to cut off supplies to other services. After a few weeks the boat was "shipshape", as they say, and after all the previous hours worked, they now had time to relax and spend time watching television but this meant adjusting the TV aerial every time the tide changed, which required three people in different parts of the boat to do this.

The DJ's returning from their time off, would bring with them 45's which people had recorded hoping that they would get played on air, "what a load of rubbish that was!!" On some nights when the sea was rough, they would gamble. They'd get an empty beer bottle and lay it in the middle of the Ward Room table and bet which end the table it would roll off, Port or Starboard., "it was fun but not much money was staked".

Another highlight Roy had was with Kenny Everett and Dave Cash. They'd get together in the evenings to create advertising tapes for the "Kenny-Cash Radio Show" and Roy was asked to join them recording these tapes. On some that they made, Roy was called "Often Travel" the roving reporter and he would interview them. These were all funny, of course, made up by Kenny in his initiative style with Dave and Roy added their bits. On some occasions he even join in the broadcast of a programme. Roy had many more tales of his six months working on the boat which were entertaining and enlightening.

In the end the Government caught up with the Pirate Radio Stations and made it illegal for them to be supplied from the UK so it was time for Roy and John to be recalled to shore and return to the land based jobs.

Following many questions, the Chairman thanked Roy for a very interesting and entertaining talk with members showing their appreciation in the usual way.

September 2015

"Using Agent Based Modelling to Understand the Impact of Human Behavioural Change in Flood Risk Management" - Linda Geaves

The evening's talk was given by Linda Geaves (daughter of one of our members) on "Using Agent Based Modelling to Understand the Impact of Human Behavioural Change in Flood Risk Management" which she illustrated with a Power Point Presentation.

Linda began outlining the changes that are taking place in the world due to global warming and changing weather patterns, Government response to the cost of flood prevention and the public's attitude.

As part of her PhD thesis she had developed a computer model to simulate the interactions between the various factors involved including; environmental, human behaviour to the risks and possible governments responses.

The presentation outlined the principal input factors involved and how they interacted with each other.

The results of simulations run over a period of years with differing starting conditions demonstrated how different sections of society would have different expectations of how the protection should be applied and who it should pay for it. Whether the government should cover the cost (via taxation), the individual should cover the cost in insurance (some do not have insurance) or a mixture.

To complement her investigations Linda visited many parts of the country gathering various people's views on flood prevention.

Currently the situation is that government funding for defence schemes is where £1 spent on protection would prevent £8 of damage. Where once severe flooding was considered a once in one hundred year event, it is more likely to be once in thirty years now.

Some of the outcomes indicated that those with greater disposable income were more likely to pay more for insurance or proved their own protection, which is what one might expect.

This type of simulation can provide insight for decision makers to develop the most appropriate strategies to problems.

Following several questions, the Chairman thanked Linda for a very informative and interesting talk and members showed their appreciation in the usual way.