Interview with Chris Denly, 7 January 2021
Level: Category
Sound Archive
Level: Fonds
Level: Series
Communicating Connections
Scope and Content:
Chris Denly [CD] interviewed by Leona Fensome [LF] about working at the Marconi Company. Recorded remotely via Squadcast.

[00:00:36] CD describes becoming an apprentice electronics engineer at Marconi in his 20s. Joined Marconi Radar on Writtle Road after doing a diploma in electronics at the Essex Institute of Higher Education. Recalls induction week on Mersea Island. Received very good training and studied for a Higher National Certificate (HNC) in electronics. Describes projects he worked on, like the Sea Wolf Missile System, and the social life of the company, including trips to the Lake District and going ‘walkabout’. Comments on the decline and closure of Marconi.

[00:10:09] Comments further on the social life at Marconi as an apprentice. Describes moving into sales and marketing, which allowed him to travel, and the companies he worked with, including Jaguar Land Rover, NASCAR and Formula One.

[00:15:26] Recalls his first day at Marconi Radar, including an induction from HR and a visit to the drawing office, where everything was done by hand. Comments on the change in engineering from manual to automatic.

[00:20:47] Describes the process of large-scale testing. Highlights the hands-on approach and the length of time it could take to test a system. Recalls the high quality of the technology being produced for the British Navy.

[00:27:42] Comments on the social culture of Marconi and the stability of working there. Mentions how much he got paid, the working hours, and various departments on site.

[00:36:51] Describes the pubs and clubs he and his friends used to frequent, including Duke’s, the Golden Fleece, and the Ship. Mentions becoming a resident DJ at one of the bars and lists the music played. Describes moving from Marconi to Kelvin Hughes, which manufactured radar systems, and travelling the world. Comments on his fond memories of travelling to Egypt and building relationships with the men from the Egyptian agency.

[00:45:00] Describes taking his work all over the world, from Argentina to Florida. Recalls driving through Croatia during the conflict there. Describes work trips in the UK, including a Marconi apprenticeship competition in the Lake District.

[00:50:00] Comments on his decision to leave Marconi after he was offered a better job at an engineering company. Moved out of the radar sphere towards communications and manufacturing. Comments that departments began to close after the market crashed in 1989. Recalls team-building trips and fond memories with colleagues.

[00:56:17] Describes what he learnt throughout his career and how his training at Marconi helped him establish his knowledge of engineering.
Dates of Creation:
7 January 2021
1 hour 1 minute 58 seconds
Creator Name:
Leona Fensome, interviewer
Archivist Note:
Custodial History:
Recorded for the Communicating Connections project, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF).
Copyright transferred to ESVA
Physical Characteristics:
1 MP3 file
Related Unit of Description:
For a transcript of this recording, see SA 13/8/12/3
Dates of Description:
6 June 2022
Not Available:
Essex Sound and Video Archive: use digital copy available on Soundcloud