Interview with Cyril Teed, 13 January 2021
Level: Category
Sound Archive
Level: Fonds
Level: Series
Communicating Connections
Scope and Content:
Cyril Teed [CT] interviewed by Leona Fensome [LF] about working at the Marconi Company from 1953 to the early 1980s. Recorded remotely via Audio Hijack.

[00:00:44] CT describes getting an interview at Marconi in 1953 through a contact at English Electric. Offered a job in the radar test department, then moved into television. Describes testing equipment provided by development engineers and creating a new system of circuit checking.

[00:08:26] Comments that he was born in Devon, where there were few career opportunities. Interested in a career in industry from childhood. Talks about being assigned to a radar school on his National Service in the Royal Air Force (RAF); ended up teaching there after an officer mistook him for a lecturer.

[00:12:31] Comments on the rewarding nature of working in television. Describes a working day and how busy they were. Mentions making equipment for ITV and moving into the development department in 1956.

[00:18:06] Comments on meeting his girlfriend aged 17 and being offered a new maisonette in Great Baddow to rent by Marconi. Married in 1955. Describes the maisonettes and the surrounding area.

[00:23:59] Returns to his interest in technology and ambition to work as a television camera designer. Recounts how he left school aged 18 to join the RAF and later turned down a civil service job to pursue a career in the technology industry. Recalls the type of work he took home, including the production of the Vitacom camera.

[00:30:03] Mentions testing different camera designs and people that he worked with. Describes producing a user-friendly camera with his team and how CBS America wanted to purchase this new model.

[00:35:08] Describes taking the camera to New York and testing it at CBS for two months. Then moved to Ampex for two to three years after Ampex made a deal to represent Marconi in the US. Moved more into the marketing side of the industry.

[00:39:07] Recalls travelling to New York in 1959 and moving to California with his wife and family. Came back to England after a few years; had sub-let his property in Great Baddow.

[00:45:22] Describes his first overseas trip to Switzerland. Talks about representing Marconi in the US and compares working at Marconi and Ampex.

[00:51:42] Comments on the physical challenges of the role. Describes working at a racetrack in Philadelphia and with the US Navy.

[01:00:24] Recalls visiting Redstone Arsenal in Alabama. Comments that they returned to England to ensure their children had a good education. Compares life in California and Great Baddow.

[01:06:52] Recalls life in Chelmsford after the Second World War and the differences between household equipment in the UK and in California. Mentions that he bought his first house in Chelmsford in 1962. Describes taking on a more freelance role in the marketing department and receiving a pay rise.

[01:13:35] Describes going back into testing after television switched from black and white to colour. Headhunted by ITN in 1968 to become a chief engineer. Talks about the challenges of this role, including a strike at ITV.

[01:22:50] Comments on the switch to colour television during the Apollo programmes. Describes leaving ITN and re-joining Marconi in 1971. Comments on how the company had changed in his absence, with large scale strikes and lack of morale.

[01:32:17] Describes how conditions got worse at Marconi, with long working hours and lots of pressure. Comments on what was involved in running the broadcast division.

[01:36:11] Describes being approached by Plessey and joining the company after ten years. Felt sad about leaving Marconi but not about leaving the GEC empire.
Dates of Creation:
13 January 2021
1 hour 41 minutes 8 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 13/8/14/3
Dates of Description:
6 June 2022
Not Available:
Essex Sound and Video Archive: use digital copy available on Soundcloud