Interview with Martyn Clarke, 16 June 2021
Level: Category
Sound Archive
Level: Fonds
Level: Series
Communicating Connections
Scope and Content:
Martyn Clarke [MC] interviewed by Jacob Magill [JM] about working for the Marconi Company from 1954 until 1995. Recorded remotely by Squadcast.

[00:00:00] JM introduces the interview. MC says his full name, date of birth and the location of the interview.

[00:02:15] MC describes moving from Lincolnshire to Essex and becoming interested in engineering at school. Started at Marconi in 1954. Mentions being at school at the same time as the writer of Morse code. Recalls experimenting with electrical fishing with his physics teacher.

[00:09:57] Describes starting at Marconi with a group of around 20 other students; all still in touch. Talks about his first post in the testing department, taking over as instructor for a brief period, and being social secretary of the apprentice association committee.

[00:15:36] Discusses other aspects of the social life at Marconi. Co-edited a monthly magazine, got free cinema tickets to write film reviews. Recalls going to Chelmsford carnival. Talks about how this built a culture of teamwork that translated into his working life.

[00:20:05] Describes moving into the manufacturing department. Lists some of the first broadcasts he worked on. Comments that he had to think on his feet a lot.

[00:23:36] Discusses his time working in Turkey [from 1961]; supposed to go for six months but was there for three years. Describes the radio station where he worked being occupied during a coup d’état and managing to get out safely. Recalls his day-to-day life in Ankara and taking part in social activities. Comments that this experience prepared him for working in other geopolitical contexts.

[00:36:08] Describes being sent to work in Northern Ireland. Lists the safety requirements he set out to management in order to work there. Recalls the community of Marconi or ex-Marconi employees across different studios. Mentions the positive reputation Marconi had in the sector.

[00:39:33] JM asks about his early career. MC comments that he did a four-year apprenticeship from 1954. Worked on a range of outside broadcasts before starting in Turkey in 1961. Describes a typical day working in production. Discusses flying out to Australia to sell colour cameras. Mentions that Australia was his favourite place to work and that his son now lives there.

[00:46:50] Describes working in Nigeria. Discusses the different sales trips he went on and having to repair lots of equipment.

[00:53:13] Discusses the impact of his work on his personal life and relationships. Mentions that his brother-in-law also worked at Marconi. Describes retiring from Marconi in 1995, travelling around the world with his wife, and his interest in sea-fishing. Gives a brief overview of his time at Marconi by decade.

[01:00:45] Reflects on his career; largely positive. Describes involvement in Marconi-related heritage projects, like at Sandford Mill in Chelmsford. Mentions attendance at Marconi veterans days.

[01:05:16] Describes travelling across the US selling cameras with a colleague. Recalls being well respected, with access to different studios. Attended the National Association of Broadcasters Convention in Las Vegas. Comments that he was called to travel all over the world for work on short notice, but got used to it. Felt broadly supported, but some trips were better than others. Mentions buying his own insurance in Northern Ireland.

[01:12:19] Describes arriving at the accommodation he had when he first worked at Marconi. Recalls that his pay as an apprentice was 52 shillings and 6 pence, which just covered rent. Frequented the Rising Sun pub across the street with other apprentices. Describes making his own audio recorder, which he swapped for his first car.

[01:15:57] Mentions being a member of the Marconi Auto Club. Tells an anecdote about driving and getting stopped by the police in Manchester.

[01:19:04] Describes his apprenticeship; learnt drawing, wiring, soldering and more. Comments that working in television was his favourite. Discusses the role of personal relationships in finding work in different departments, and how this shaped the social aspect of international Marconi work trips. Mentions colleagues he is still in touch with. Comments on the influence of Marconi on which people are working on television broadcasts today.

[01:32:55] Discusses some dissatisfaction with the company; usually revolved around pay. Comments that things were good overall.

[01:36:48] Discusses going back to Ankara with his wife and seeing his old flat. Mentions there were a few Marconi employees on international jobs, but also a lot of local workers.

[01:38:40] Describes the role of trade unions on different sites. Comments on the differences between union workers and non-union workers in Marconi. Discusses his interactions with union bosses.

[01:41:57] Reflects on working in dangerous places and using humour to cope with difficult situations. Describes a particularly worrying incident in Belfast and another in Ankara. Recalls ensuring someone got a message to his family to let them know he was safe.
Dates of Creation:
16 June 2021
1 hour 50 minutes 14 seconds
Creator Name:
Jacob Magill, 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 13/8/21/3
Dates of Description:
6 June 2022
Not Available:
Essex Sound and Video Archive: use digital copy available on Soundcloud