Up to English Electric - 9.50 Euston to Crewe - David Green

Your previous email put me in mind to rummage around in a couple of archive/junk boxes and to my amazement I found an old pocket diary for 1962. The very first entry is 1 January 1962: "Up to English Electric. 9.50 Euston."

I remember that day well: it was a very inauspicious start for a new career. English Electric had arranged for a car to meet me at Crewe Station and take me to digs they had organised for me in Alsager. Fine. The car turned up and we drove slowly to Alsager through the most appalling weather - a raging blizzard. The driver dropped me at the gate of my new accommodation in the gathering gloom and beat a hasty retreat. I lugged my suitcase up to the porch and rang the bell. A very harassed lady answered the door and informed me I was a day early and couldn't stay there!

She told me to try Lyncroft. Great. It's nearly dark, the snow is travelling in horizontal mode, it's ankle deep in slush, and I have no idea where I am. Except I hope she has pointed me in the right direction. The suitcase is heavy (all my worldly goods; lucky I wasn't too wealthy in those days) but I don't want to put it down in the slush so every so often I have to turn up my toes and rest it on my toe caps. Anyway, I did eventually find Lyncroft and they were very hospitable. They plonked me down in the warm kitchen and gave me a big mug of hot tea, and I guess things started to look up right then. In fact I stayed there that night and every subsequent night through to 19 March 1962 when Paul McKee and I moved into Church House, The Butts, Betley.

Actually there are not many entries in the diary, which is a shame. I am not a great diarist - diaries serve me mainly for appointment times and telephone numbers. But here are a few names to conjure with:

22 Feb: "Drinks at Old Hall to celebrate Alec Brunt passing his driving test."

1 March: "Stag party, Old Hall, Sandbach: Alan Brooke-Smith marries."
I guess these guys were at Lyncroft and I was probably invited automatically as another resident. I can't put faces to the names and I have no idea what they might have done at EE.

2 March: "Joan Miller's party - couldn't go - 9" of snow."

27 March: "Paul's birthday"

2 April: "McGooligan off to London"
I'm not making this up. I wasn't making Wanda up either. Nothing fishy about her. I seem to associate her name with a Harold ? who had a reel-to-reel tape recorder of which he was very proud. Such is memory!

12 April: "Conference with Roger and Richard."
I think this refers to Roger Allwood, my direct boss, and Richard Burrows, another programmer reporting to Roger. The conference was about our work loads. Richard was directed to start work on Partial Differential Equations, I assume for the KDF9. I was to finish Chop Sticks III (which I did - I still have the code!). Roger would have reported to Cliff Robinson.

20 April: "Dinner with Bernard at Lyncroft - I owe Glynn 4/8d."

10 May: Mike Weatherfield told me in conversation: "There was quite a long time when everybody was happy with the paper tape code. Then they started using it."
I have no idea what this was about.

Did I play croquet at Lyncroft? Not while I stayed there. The lawns must have been under snow for the greater part of January to March. But yes, on Friday 22 June 1962 there was a party at Lyncroft and croquet was played on the lawns.

5 July: "Given marching orders by Cliff Robinson. Start at L.C.B. Monday week."
I think this must be London Computer Bureau (Queen's House, Kingsway?).

I have the impression we were not encouraged to stay too long at Lyncroft - it was a sort of halfway house to a permanent address.

© David Green - 27 August 2004