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Gerry Taylor

Page history last edited by Ian Gillis 4 years, 9 months ago





G. N. S. TAYLOR. Bom at Cheam, Surrey. in 1920. After leaving school, in 1940 he joined the Royal Air Force and worked for five-and-half years on various fixed and mobile ground radar stations. In 1946 he went to Trinity College, Cambridge, and took a degree in Natural Sciences. He joined the Marconi Company in 1949 as a Sales Engineer attached to the then Services Equipment Division and joined the Systems Group of the Radar Division on its formation in 1953. He became Deputy Chief of the Group with particular responsibility for Civil Aviation Systems.


Light-Hearted Biography

A short article from the MRSL house magazine "Chelmsford News & Views 1991



Marconi 50 cm Radars for Air Traffic Control

This account, taken from a submission for a proposed centenary document, was written at the solicitation of Sir Robert Telford, as one of several contributions by radar staff requested by him in 1992 to guide the content of a new Marconi History proposed to be published for the centenary celebrations in 1997. Unfortunately this never happened – another casualty of the machinations within the company managements prior to that date. However, several of the accounts have survived in the archives at Sandford Mill, and with the permission of the authors, where possible, they are being included, with minor editing, as personal reminiscences in our History. They should be read bearing in mind the context for which they were intended and the period in which they were produced.


Remote Presentation of Radar Information

The Communications Division magazine "Point-to-Point" includes in its February 1961 issue an article on radar link equipment by Gerry Taylor. There is also a description of such a link as supplied to Wellington, New Zealand. Radar Link equipment was used to transmit radar data from London Heathrow to Farnborough for the show in 1956, as outlined in the article in October of that year in "Marconi Companies and their People" magazine.


The article has some charming illustrations of its age - in a document costing 5 shillings it describes the large amount of equipment required for encoding analogue signals of up to 3.5 Mc/s (not Hz.!).



Evenings with Gerry Taylor

An affectionate memoir from Don Halstead


"Of shoes, and ships, and sealing wax,

Of cabbages and kings,

Of sellotape and scissors - and Locus."


I missed the first week of decimalisation in February 1971 because I, Gerry Taylor, Paul Baird and Mike Lewis spent it in Canada, staging a presentation about displays, simulation and secondary radar, followed by various discussions about Comox and Lahr and possible future business.


Looking back my memories of that visit are somewhat surreal. They include the flight to Montreal with the VC10 operating on visual flight rules because of Canadian ATC problems; the marvellous views looking down on the St Lawrence Seaway; the banks of snow cleared from Montreal’s runways almost hiding the planes from sight; and, in Ottawa, being pitched out into a howling blizzard short of the hotel in the dark because the bus driver would not cross a picket line.


On the Monday evening ‘a quick drink’ with a key Canadian Airforce contact at the Chateau Laurier hotel was suggested  Over two hours a quick drink turned into half a dozen enormous G&Ts, probably the most alcohol I have ever consumed in one session. They were followed by a ‘bite to eat’, which became very awkward when one of our hosts chose to criticise us in front of the customer for our lack of spares support, or something similar. Gerry, perhaps deliberately, perhaps inevitably, just sat there smiling benignly. I knew nothing about the project but sobered up instantly, uncertain what to do. Suddenly our other host grabbed a spray of miniature chrysanthemums from the elaborate floral centrepiece and hit his colleague on the head with it. The flowers had just been sprayed with ice-cold water to guard against the central heating and the sudden shock reduced the culprit to hysterical laughter. Every time thereafter he tried to return to the subject yet another spray of flowers was deployed. The additional bill for ‘Floral decoration’ was astronomic.


Standing in the foyer of the British High Commission during our presentation, I was amazed by the wrath of a Canadian at the sight of the Union Jack fluttering outside. So much for the Commonwealth of Nations ...


On Friday night we returned to Montreal. At midnight we were heading towards the Queen Elizabeth Hilton when we ground to a halt on a freeway, traffic at a standstill and flashing blue lights hurtling the wrong way towards us. With the car radio broken, the only clue we had was someone on foot saying “Thank God there was no one underneath when it came down.” Tired and exhausted, it was weird to feel so isolated in such a modern society; visions of the FLQ (Front de Liberation  du Quebec) terrorists loomed. In fact, snow and ice had overloaded a painter’s gantry left for the winter under a bridge over the freeway.


On the Saturday Paul and Mike went off to visit family and friends, leaving Gerry with me as his sole audience. In the evening we were whisked skyward forty-odd stories, in what I think was the original IBM Tower, to a restaurant carefully selected by Gerry. Surreally, the snow was driving upwards past the windows, illuminated by a rotating searchlight overhead. Gerry, of course, was a born raconteur; goodness knows exactly what we talked about that evening, but I do remember two topics:


● The snow must have reminded him of his wartime months of isolation in a lighthouse in the gale-torn Faroes operating airborne radar, surely as part of Operation Fortitude North has designed to deceive the Germans into expecting an imminent invasion of Norway as a D-Day decoy. (This story also appears in the Radar History Special Edition of News and Views which covered the three musketeers; Neale, Latham and Taylor.)


His other yarn concerned the S264 radar and display systems installed at Kastrup airport. (I believe the total cost was some £84,000 but the Interavia report has disappeared). The customer (the Danish PTT?) was dissatisfied with some aspect of the installation until Marconi’s patience and finances were exhausted and Gerry was dispatched to advise the customer accordingly.

He was ushered into an huge office with a very small, gnome-like, man seated behind a large desk. “Good morning, Mr Taylor. I believe you have a message for me.” The little man listened silently, but part way through Gerry’s spiel he opened a drawer, fished out paper, sellotape and scissors, and sat fiddling with them. When Gerry ran out of words there was a silence before: “Mr Taylor, you have finished?” “Yes.” At which the gnome donned the paper crown he had constructed and instructed: “Please go back to your management and tell them that Customer is King!” Maybe one of the few times Gerry was lost for words ...?


Perhaps 15 months later an invitation to tender came in from the Canadian DoT, describing a scheme to upgrade the whole of Canadian ATC using a scheme based on the newly introduced PDP8, or something similar. They had already tested a prototype system and were convinced storage of 8k, or perhaps 16k, per machine would be more than enough. Gerry was very keen to bid, and he, Don Ward and I flew out to discuss the tender specification. I suspect that Don and I were dubious about the storage limitations, but we went through the motions anyway. Towards the end of the interview Gerry, sotto voce, begged me to give an impromptu presentation on Locus, then still in its first development phase. His idea was that it was such an attractive proposition the Canadians would be prepared to delay the bidding process. I fear I rebelled, on the grounds that I knew insufficient about Locus to make any convincing case, and certainly not off the cuff. Given the power of Locus as eventually developed, who knows, but it was far too early. Gerry was not happy with me. But the hospitality was great!


Subsequently, back at base, Des Adams got involved, and a decision to bid, or not to bid, was needed. Des convened a panel which included half of the Divisional management and I gave what I thought was a well-balanced presentation of the pros and cons. The verdict was overwhelmingly against proceeding. Some days later John Crispin thanked me “for having been so positively negative”. Oh dear! And certainly Gerry never again saw me as a thrusting sales person.


Years before, in our Baddow days, Roy Simons once talked to me about how my career might progress. “Technical Sales, maybe” he said. Pause. “But then, perhaps not; you sometimes show a stubborn streak of honesty.” That was a trait that later did not always endear me to folk such as Iain Butler, David Overton or, on at least one occasion, John Sutherland himself. But those are stories for another day ...




Comments (2)

Ian Gillis said

at 4:31 pm on Feb 11, 2016

Page checked.
It's a pity that this lovely man doesn't have a better bio. Sadly I suspect those who knew him well enough have also passed away.

Alan Hartley-Smith said

at 12:55 pm on Jun 9, 2016

Now he has

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