A Personal Memory of Fulmer


by Rose Stewart

When I joined FRI in 1954 aged 17, as Rose Phillips, there were in all 125 employees.  I worked in the Physics Department under the management of Tom Heal, whose deputy was G.I.Williams.  In the department other members included Brian Orton, Ben Hatt, Jean Silcock, Bev Shaw and Shirley Stainer.  In a couple of months, we were joined by Duncan Stewart, then gradually by Joan Steel, Jennifer Heywood, Derek Lavender, Walter Gutteridge, Brian Bradford, Gordon Hanson, Roger Freeman, Cynthia Knight, Rex Waghorne, Chris Tangri, Midge ?, Ken Page and Brian Parsons.

Fig 1: Working with the Electron Microscope (Z316-01)

I was immediately trained for my work in x-ray crystallography, and at a local college attended a part-time course in Applied Physics.  Approximately two years later an Electron Microscope was installed and I was privileged to become the assistant to Joan Steel in this specialist work.  I trained at EMI in Manchester and at a London College of Technology.  I once took samples from an extractor fan to prove that it contained a quantity of asbestos.  (We helped to win a court case as a result of this investigation).  This microscope, although an early model, revealed amazing surface pictures as well as transmission and x-ray pictures.

Apart from enjoying all the technical work, I also enjoyed the social side of Fulmer, when I became Social Club Secretary.  I helped to organise parties of the children of staff members under the name of Aunty Rose.

To name just two, Ted Liddiard and Ted Calnan both acted as Father Christmas distributing the gifts.  A very successful barbeque was held in the grounds when Duncan spit-roasted a whole hog!

I also organised various entertainments, one of which was a visit to Stratford.  We were three cars in a convoy (Duncan borrowed Mrs Liddiard’s car).  When we arrived we all went punting before the performance and had supper on the way home.

Team games held were: tennis, keenly lead by G.I.Williams and Peter Constable, snooker( played after lunch in the canteen), table tennis (also in the canteen), cricket matches on the field (we once had a men v ladies match!), croquet on the back lawn.

Pantomimes:– Ted Calnan wrote and produced three amazing shows!  The first was a production of Cinderella, the second a space spectacular and the third a ‘Flicker Film’, with Ron producing amazing sounds on the piano!  All parts were taken by members of staff and were mainly skits on people and on Fulmer happenings.

These shows were all held as entertainment for our annual Christmas party in the canteen.  We did venture out occasionally – to at least two local Slough Hotels for black-tie dinner dances.

The Almin Sports Day – several members took part.  Duncan won a lovely set of ‘silver’ spoons which quickly turned dark brown and should have been given an R Number!

It was wonderful working in what was the beautiful oak panelled dining room, although much-coated by acid fumes!  Even more exciting was the move to the purpose-built new laboratories in the grounds, where we had all the much needed space for the ever increasing contracts coming in.

One exciting Open Day, the Duke of Edinburgh arrived in his helicopter on Mr Phillips’ well tended lawn!(1)

Of course, the most important part of my life at Fulmer was meeting Duncan.  We were married in 1962 and I left in 1963 for the birth of our son Graham, who at the age of sixteen worked with Duncan and Peter Kent on the Solar House contract during his summer holidays.

I still hold many happy memories of my years at Fulmer, and still maintain a few lasting friendships.

Ten very happy years, spent with some interesting and diverse people.  One good example was on my first day when I came across George Wilson, whom I almost tripped over, as he lay on the floor outside the library door playing with the house cat!

One interesting story is that for many years, my father worked as a blacksmith and forger at High Duty Alloys in Slough, which was owned by Colonel Devereux.  By coincidence, sometime after I joined Fulmer, I heard from my father, that he had produced hundreds of aluminium alloy samples for Dr Hardy, who took them to Ken Mitchell for tensile testing in Fulmer’s Engineering Laboratory!

Sep 2019

FRHG ref: V103


(1) Editor’s note. Prince Phillip’s visit was in November 1954.  It was intended that he should come from Windsor Castle by helicopter, landing on Fulmer’s lawn.  What actually happened was as follows. The autumn leaves were swept aside and a makeshift white cross was constructed on the lawn with spare bedsheets borrowed from Mrs Liddiard.  The helicopter made a trial run from Windsor and its downdraft radically redistributed the leaves and the bedsheets. Following this trial, the Duke actually came by car.