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Marconi Radar Systems Limited

Page history last edited by Alan Hartley-Smith 4 years, 2 months ago


Reorganisation 1968




Formed in August 1969 the first Managing Director was John Sutherland; first Technical Director Roy Simons; the other Directors were Mike Wolf, Iowerth Evans and David Edmundsen.



In November 1967, the General Electric Company acquired Associated Electrical Industries, which included amongst many others, Metropolitan Vickers and British Thomson Houston. The following year, English Electric - parent of Marconi since 1946, and recently owner of Elliott Automation - merged with GEC. AEI had particular expertise in many aspects of radar and electronic control, and on 4th August 1969, Marconi Radar Systems Limited (MRSL), with its headquarters at Writtle Road in Chelmsford, was formed from Radar Division of Marconi, GEC/AEI Electronics (as it was then called) at Leicester Blackbird Road and New Parks, the AEI radar and electronic control activity (having recently been redeployed from Manchester to Leicester) with their Leicester and Rugby colleagues, and the Airspace Control Division of Elliott. There were MRSL factories at Writtle  Road in Chelmsford, Blackbird Road Leicester, and Gateshead; engineering was carried out at Writtle Road and Great Baddow in Chelmsford and at New Parks, Leicester. The integration of management structures and clarification of products, markets and financial objectives was completed as soon as was practicable. It was not feasible to maintain a separate Elliott Airspace Control Division at Borehamwood for any length of time, and as many people  as  possible were persuaded to come to Chelmsford, and the Borehamwood  facilities passed back to other Elliott units.


Input from Steve Bousfield

The Leicester sites that came under MRSL were Blackbird Road and New Parks. Both ex AEI and possibly before that BTH. The Gateshead Works were Bill Quay, Gateshead (there is Friends Reunited site for that so it might be possible to gleen some info there). Radar also took on some Frimley products and had offices and staff at Lyon Way, Frimley and maybe even Chobham Road. Production was shifted to Broad Oak Works, Portsmouth. This was / is a shared facility so not sure if it qualifies here.

The AEI workload which covered tasks from Trafford Park, Rugby and Leicester included Type 82 (Orange Yeoman), Type 85 high power multibeam radar for the RAF, tracking radars Type 83 (Yellow River) and Type 87 (Blue Anchor). All these were in service but being very actively supported through `Post Design Services' (PDS). There was a major development programme for the Type 40T2, a `private venture' (PV) derivative of Type 85, the tracker radar for SEADART, fire and gun control for  main battle tanks, and many other electronic control functions.







At the end of its first year of trading, the outstanding order book for MRSL was £42 million, turnover was £29 million, net profit £2.7 million and there were 3840 employees, plus a few hundred apprentices and trainees. By 1982, the order book was £256 million, with profit of over £13 million on sales of £120 million, and accumulated cash of £31 million. In 1980, Marconi Radar Systems Limited won the Queen's Award for Export and in 1984 won the Queen's Award for Technology in recognition of the Company's work on the development of `Martello'. In the fifteen years from 1969, Marconi Radar people were awarded several BEMs, four MBEs, four OBEs and a CBE.


Tentative list of Divisional and Managing Directors


Radar stuff

A presentation featuring all of the Marconi radars and also those being developed by its successor companies up to the present day


The Innovators

Part 1

Part 2

 This is a Company video c1990 illustrating the range and depth of the fundamental research and development resources for both hardware and software within the Marconi radar capability.


Significant Dates


Founding MD John Sutherland left Radar to become Vice-Chairman of the  Marconi Company. His place as Managing Director was taken over by Keith Chittenden who came from the Elliott operation at Frimley. 



The structure became one of five Divisions: Airspace Control, Naval, Support and Data Systems were the trading divisions plus Manufacturing.



MRS Silver Jubilee brochure   




MRSL continued as a separate trading company until a series of reorganisations occurred in the parent group. Radar activities became part of Marconi Defence Systems in 1988,, Marconi Radar and Control Systems in 1992, GEC-Marconi Radar and Defence Systems in 1996 and finally Alenia Marconi Systems in 1998 after which the name Marconi associated with radar disappeared and this history concludes.


An interesting snippet circa 2012:


2002       -              10 years ago       – Alenia Marconi Systems 

                                                                1998 Alenia Marconi Systems formed under GEC-Marconi (renamed Marconi Electronic Systems)

                                                                1999 MES sold to BAe

                                                                2003 Alenia Marconi Systems renamed AMS and later into Insyte then Mission Systems then Maritime Services,

                                                                which still exists in Eastwood House.


1992       -              20 years ago       – Marconi Radar Division of Marconi Radar and Control Systems under GEC Marconi Radar Systems 

                                                                (Radar Div Director Brian Loader till Oct 92, MD Martin Read Jul 91 – circa Dec 93)

                                                                (Radar Div Director David Overton Oct 92 - , MD Martin Read Jul 91 – circa Dec 93)

                            (Radar Div Director David Overton MD Roger Mathias Dec 93 - ???)


1982       -              30 years ago       – Marconi Radar Systems under The Marconi Company Ltd  under GEC until circa May 88

                            Marconi Radar Systems under GEC-Marconi Ltd  under GEC thereafter

                            (MD Keith Chittenden April 82 – Nov 86)

                            (MD David Chennery Dec 86 – July 91)

                            (MD Martin Read July 91 – renamed Marconi Radar and Control Systems Ltd Dec 91)


1972       -              40 years ago – Marconi Radar Systems (MD John Sutherland 69-March 82) under The Marconi Company Ltd  under GEC




Location detail


Staff lists


Radar Library



Reorganisation 1968



Comments (1)

Ian Gillis said

at 3:20 pm on Feb 12, 2016

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