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Fred Kime

Page history last edited by Alan Hartley-Smith 6 years, 7 months ago





Fred Kime joined the Radar Development Group (RDG) at Broomfield in 1951, having worked on aircraft avionics and radar in the RAF at the end of the war. The RDG developed new radar products, mainly for sale to foreign governments and Fred Kime was a Section Leader in the display design area.

The group moved to Baddow Research Laboratories in 1959 and was amalgamated with the British Government radar design teams there.

Fred then took on a new role and became an advisor to the Sales and Marketing Department, travelling extensively for over ten years throughout the world, discussing air defence and air traffic control systems with potential customers. He then ran a Systems Sales department before eventually becoming manager of the Radar Systems Department at Writtle Road Works with a staff of over 100 engineers.

Valuable and wise contributions were made by Fred to the procurement of many large contracts for radar systems abroad, even though he usually worked quietly but very effectively in the background, using his great wisdom to keep sometimes difficult situations carefully under control.

He retired in 1988 and was greatly admired and respected for his great technical knowledge, honesty, integrity, patience and kindness to others.


A Tribute by Alan Matthews

(read at Fred's Memorial Service)

Fred ‘s career in electronic Engineering really began when he was called up into the Air Force in 1943. He had always been interested in science and aeroplanes while at school so trained as an aircraft avionics and radar fitter.


He was demobbed with NCO rank in 1945 and joined the Ministry of Aviation using the skills he acquired in the RAF to maintain radar equipment at Gatwick Airport. Later he worked for GEC at Stanmore, but became bored with the routine work after a while and found what proved to be a more much more interesting job with The Marconi Radar Development Group at Pottery Lane Broomfield. While there he finished his professional technical education by gaining a higher National Certificate in Electrical and Electronic Engineering.


After living in digs at Great Leighs and cycling to Broomfield for 2 or three years, Fred married Vera in 1951, bought a plot of land in Great Baddow and built a bungalow there while living in a caravan in the garden.


Pottery Lane was where the Company developed their range of Radar equipment primarily for sale to Foreign customers - the British government developments being done at Baddow Research. The display lab was housed in a very dusty old Nissan hut, but some great and innovative work was done there despite the conditions.


I was sent to Pottery Lane in 1955 during the last two years of my Apprenticeship, and Fred was by then a Section Chief in the displays Group and when my Training finished, he offered me a post there as a Junior Development Engineer- so I owe most of the great times and enjoyment I had at work with many trips abroad to a decision he made in 1957.


In 1959 the Broomfield Group was moved to Baddow research and amalgamated with the Engineers there. I had found Fred to be a very sympathetic and helpful boss who allowed even greenhorns such as myself great freedom to try out new ideas and was sorry to lose his direct guidance when he became a Systems Advisor to Sales and The Chief of Business Promotion.


This was a change of direction for Fred, because this Systems work involved working with salesmen and discussing with potential customers how we could meet their Radar Defence and Air Traffic Control needs. The idea was to try to meet these requirements using as much of our existing product range as possible and naturally required from him a detailed knowledge of all our products, research and development capabilities.

The system design for these potential projects also required a working knowledge of the buildings, roads, aircraft involved etc. plus the commercial implications


Fred soon became very expert in this field and was consulted at the highest level for his opinions, and often had to cope with some very temperamental and volatile commercial managers.


He was of course quite the opposite in temperament to most of them and I think they respected his analytical ability, integrity, and calm – the potential customers also had enormous respect for his honesty and common sense. Fred sometimes had to warn our over-enthusiastic salesmen that their claims for our products were "against the laws of Physics” – and they said his predictions were rather negative, hence his nickname amongst some in Sales of "Gloomy Fred". However this was not really so at all , Fred just had his feet firmly planted on the ground, and did not want to commit the Company to technical requirements which were impossible to meet.


Sometimes on long term contracts the technology had to be pushed to and beyond the current limits and Fred had to help with the judgement of weather potential advances in technology would enable us to meet the requirements by the time delivery had to be made after a few years.


During this period he was always available to discuss with the research engineers new features which might be attractive to customers and so he was very influential in the design of new products.

In 1970 a new group was formed under Fred called Systems Sales – the idea being to extend Fred’s role by adding a few more staff. I was flattered to be invited to be part of the small team and traveled the world for 4 years usually with a commercial salesmen to discuss Customer requirements at the early stages of possible contracts, and to do presentations. These activities were of course always backed up from Chelmsford by Fred’s wisdom, judgement and great knowledge of Radar systems.


During this time Fred oversaw the production of a large catalogue of the Company products and how these could be assembled into systems for Air Traffic Control, Defence Systems, Naval Protection and even radar speed traps. To do this he had to understand the technical details and limitations of virtually all the Company’s products and capabilities in hardware and software - a very impressive achievement.


In 1968 at the Farnborough Air show the Yugoslav Air Force expressed an interest in our S600 mobile systems and Fred established a rapport with them which led to large orders over many years, because they trusted his technical skills, judgement and appreciation of their needs for Air Defence.


In 1975 System Sales was disbanded and the Systems department was re-organised, with Fred, after a time, becoming Systems Manager with over 100 engineers of many disciplines coming under his wing.

This organisation implemented the technical aspects of projects, did bids, assisted sales and looked at most aspects of radar implementation including site surveys, power plant , site access roads, acceptance documents and so on.


As a few examples of the many types of contracts Fred helped to obtain, In 1977 the Company gained a large contract with the Swedish Air Force for a system to direct their then new Viggen fighter. This was a joint venture with Svenska Radio, where we supplied the computers and software and they installed it in mobile shelters. Fred also was involved with the initial discussions on the large Over the Horizon Radar systems for Australia and also for Air Traffic Control systems which were supplied to Malaysia.


The last order Fred helped to obtain for Yugoslavia was for two very sophisticated defence centres each with about 20 plan position radar displays and several Locus 16 computers. These systems were used to track aircraft, direct fighters, decide whether to use fighters or Surface to Air missiles to meet a threat, etc., and were delivered in 1988 just before he retired.


There were of course many problems with all these projects and Fred was always very calm about them, and usually able to offer acceptable compromise solutions to all parties. He had the knack of making it all seem effortless. I think he had the ability to coolly take more technical and commercial factors into account at the same time than most people, in order to make the right decisions. He did not however often get involved with the nuts and bolts of implementing the projects which were usually run by Project Managers but with Fred’s systems engineers controlling the major design work.


Many of the Project Managers had no idea that Fred had been very much involved in the initial discussions with the customers for these projects – he always adopted a very low profile.


In all the years I knew him I did not know anybody who heard him raise his voice in anger or be unkind to people when things did not go according to plan.


He also well understood the difficulties encountered of those who worked for him of being away from home for fairly long periods of time with only around £5 a day out-of-pocket-allowance. He appreciated that our small domestic problems, usually easily fixed with DIY had to be paid for while one was away, so he would then sometimes quietly and kindly set up a small temporary increase in salary for the period, which was a great help to those involved.


After retirement in 1988, more time was spent on photography and gardening but his concern for people came to the fore when he became a trustee for the Keene charity at Broomfield and interviewed candidates for suitability to take advantage of the Alms House type of accommodation offered.


Fred usually attended the Marconi Systems and ATC in events at Christmas, the Friday lunchtime sessions at the Orange Tree Pub and the Marconi Veteran’s Lunch in April for a chat about old times and will be sorely missed at these gatherings.

Science was also not forgotten and during the Winter months and up until about a year ago Fred was a regular attendee at the IET and Chelmsford Science and Engineering Societies lectures at Anglia University.


Fred was a wonderful boss who was kind to all and always available for one to take advantage of his great knowledge and wisdom.


I feel very privileged to have worked with him and thank You Fred for everything you did to make Work for everyone at Marconi Radar a rewarding and enjoyable Experience.


Tributes from Colleagues


Fred Kime's wife, Vera, called me today with the sad news that Fred passed away peacefully this morning. Too early to think about his funeral just yet but I will pass on any further information as soon as I hear anything.
Barry F

How very sad to hear that Fred has left us.  He was one of my long term colleagues and a good friend.  We enjoyed many concerts together  
Roy S

My youth was spent in the age where it was still cool to have a technologist as one's hero - mine was Sir William Penney, the AERE/UKAEA nuclear guru.
When I joined MWT Co. after two years in the RAF working on the Console 64 system at RAF Boulmer I was amazed to meet a key engineer for its "legacy" (the SD1000 Fixed Coil Display System) - Frederick William Kime.
Here was a new hero for me - but a hero that was kind, considerate, approachable and supportive, as well as being a technical superman.
Not given to excessive frivolity or flights of fancy - not for nothing was he sometimes called "Gloomy Fred" - here was an engineer with his feet firmly placed on extensive experience, whose judgement could always be trusted.
He will be greatly missed.
Ian G

Ian has said it all!
Cyril F

Fred was a mentor to many of us in the 60/70s time span, and I worked closely with him in Systems Marketing at Cromptons - he had a wry sense of humour.
Alan H-S

I remember Fred particularly in the 70s when I reported directly to him. As Ian has said, he was always there to listen & provide advice with his understated sense of humour. He had a genuine interest in people beyond the work environment & he was always willing to attend team socials with Vera which he really seemed to enjoy. I had various dealings with him beyond the 70s & also met him on a number of occasions in retirement & he always wanted to know how Alwyn & I were doing.  A real gentleman.
Peter B

I was sent to Radar Development Group at Pottery Lane Broomfield in 1955 as part of the last two of years of my apprentice training  and was allocated to Fred as my section leader working on display systems.
Fred always gave one a lot of scope to try out ideas and in a couple of years I had designed a numerical height display for a system in Argentina.
Based on this Fred offered me a job on the staff and in 1959 we were amalgamated with the Ministry equipment design engineers at Baddow after a swop of location with the TV development lab.
I only briefly worked with Fred whilst a Baddow Research engineer but consulted him sometimes on Systems problems such as communications for the mobile S600 data handling systems.
In 1971 I was delighted to be offered a job in Systems Sales which was a new venture headed by Fred at Writtle Road.
Our main raison d'être was to go out to see potential customers with commercial sales men and to give technical presentations on our solutions to their defence/ATC needs.  This wonderful job involved frequent travel all over the world and of course we were always backed up by Fred’s much greater expertise and good judgement.
Marconi Radar Systems was reorganised in 1975 and he was made overall Systems Manager, so I stayed with Fred, working on several bids and projects as a Systems Engineer.
Fred retired in 1988 and we were all very sorry at losing his expertise and willingness to offer help and advice on almost any subject.
Ian is a much better wordsmith than I, his words express my sentiments precisely and I owe most of the very interesting and enjoyable 42 years I had at Marconi's to Fred’s decision to employ me in 1957.
Thank You Fred for everything.
Alan M


Other Notes

WW2 service

Following from the comment added below to this page by Brian Foster we have established contact with him and obtained permission to put this link to his blog which includes his - and therefore Fred’s - time in Burma with RAF No 181 Signals Wing maintaining Rebecca-Eureka systems. This link describes the system and this link shows its deployment.


US Patent for PRF Stagger


UK Patent for PRF Stagger


He has given us a very large collection of slides featuring many of our systems, equipments and projects. These will be scanned and a selection mounted on the History, with all put on a DVD for archive purposes but this will take some time.


Electronic Aids to Air Traffic Control


Operational Requirements for Display and Data Handling Systems

This paper was an attempt to summarise the situation at a particular point in time i.e 1967, as a basis for future development of new systems. It is perhaps worth noting that a number of the solutions outlined did, in fact, come to fruition after that time


Comments (3)

Ian Gillis said

at 3:56 pm on Feb 11, 2016

Page checked

Brian Foster said

at 5:35 pm on Mar 28, 2017

I was with Fred in Burma during the War - 181 Signals Wing, RAF. We were using Rebecca/Eureka with the Chinditsl he was brilliant.

Brian Foster said

at 5:38 pm on Apr 3, 2017

Funeral at St Mary's Church, Great Baddow on Wednesday, 19 April; at 14.00 hrs.

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