Monday 29 November 2021

Sir Martin Wood


This is my tribute to

 Sir Martin Wood

Photo from Oxford Instruments website

 Sir Martin Wood started Oxford Instruments in 1959 in his garden shed along Norcote Road in Oxford, it was the first spin off company to come out of Oxford University 

Sourced this photo off the internet. The shed I hear was moved to his place in Little Wittenham during the 1960s the company started to expand and moved to an old laundry along the Botley Road in Oxford. By the 1970's they moved again

To this place the Boathouse in Osney Mead industrial estate

This is probably the last photo of the boat house take by Don Galloway who worked at Oxford Instruments The boathouse was where I worked when I first started at Oxford Instruments. the building was so cold in the winter the pipes froze  and they had to use space heaters to try and warm it up Sir Martins shed would have been warmer, in the summer it was like a sauna 

And this is how I first saw Oxford Instruments in 1972. By then the company had expanded and had new offices built for the growing workforce. Not long after starting I first saw Sir Martin though back then he was someone you just held in awe and had little contact with. He always showed and interest in the work going on and chatted to the engineers

The last photo and this one were taken in March 2018 by then the building was the Kings Centre, on the right you can see the building that was built over the boathouse, in the middle was the Workshop I moved to from the boathouse and where Sir Martin took great interest In the new Ultra low temperature experiment we were  developing at  the time. During our time here Martin was knighted Sir Martin Wood and we had a big celebration to mark it.

If you ever wondered where Body scanners were developed well it was here in the building I was just talking about. By then I was working in the new part and remember the first body scanner being built. Sir Martin was asked to unveil the plaque.

 By around the 1980s Oxford instruments had become some big it needed to expand again, the medical side of the company had already moved to Abingdon. The company split and this building was where the Cryomagnetic side went along with me. It was where we built high field superconducting magnets along with ultra low temperature instruments that went along with the magnets. The place was built on the site of the old Eynsham Railway station and the track bed still runs out the back where the car park is now.

The good entry side of the building and where we shipped equipment all around the world

 This was Oxford Instruments Group HQ and where Sir Martin would have had an office and quite frequently used to pop across the road to see us

The body scanner side of the company became Oxford Medical Technology or OMT as we knew it and was where the scanners you see today are built. Semens bought into the company and eventually bought Oxford Instruments out. It's built on part of the old railway line that it's sister building is built on about half a mile away. The building is enormous inside

By the end of the 1990's we moved again and this is the present day Oxford Instruments

Due to a downturn in the market most of the old satellite groups were condensed and operate from here now. Sir Martin was a frequent visitor and always chatted with the the people who worked here especially the ones from the old place. He always had a smile. He was one of the last people I spoke to before I left. After I left Oxford Instruments I would see him an his wife Lady Audrey around walling ford where they would recognise you and speak asking how you were getting along. Not long after leaving OI I saw Sir Martin at Diamond Light source where he stopped and after you and commented on the marvellous work that we were doing at Diamond. The last time I saw Sir Martin was at the 60th Anniversary celebrations at Tubney. He still had that smile on his face when he saw you.
Sir Martin was a gentleman who would always take the time to talk with you and show an interest in the work you did , I never heard get angry with anyone or he always seemed pleasant and laid back.  He will be greatly missed by is family and all those who knew and worked with him. 
Rest in Peace

Sunday 28 November 2021

Sir Frank Williams


It was with sadness I heard today of the death of Sir Frank Williams who  was the Founder of Frank Williams Racing. He started off in an old warehouse in Didcot before success enabled hot to move to a new factory up the road. Further success followed and they moved to Grove in Wantage.  I started following F1 when I was an apprentice seeing some incredible races at Brands, including James Hunts victory over Niki Lauda. I became involved in grass roots racing acting a a mechanic for a Mini Se7en racing car where we had many victory nearly wining a championship. I followed F1 avidly noticing that Williams Racing were making inroads. One day after moving into my new house a young lad who I knew bought a house a few doors down from me. He was working as a welder for Williams and invited me to have a look around one Sunday morning. You did not have to ask twice and went along with him to look around  at the original factory in Didcot where I say the ground effects cars in their stripped down state. Many years later when they had moved to grove I was invited to look around on a opend day by another person I knew who worked there. I fell I have been privilaged to see some of the behind the scenes worth that went on. I felt hearing of Sir Franks death I should do a tribute to a person who I held in high esteem and who's team I followed for many years. Apart from the first photo all the photos were taken by me on an SLR camera

This is the only photo I could find by Philip Jeffrey on Geograph   and shows some incredible topiary in-front of the conference centre where you will find the Williams Museum . When the old factory which was owned by Jenson Pharmaceuticals was put up for sale Oxford Instruments were considering purchasing the site, as it was they bruit a new factory a few miles away at Tubney

This is part of a formula 1 car the whole lot fits over a chassis  

In effect dropped over this little lot

And this is one of the most successful engines ever the Cosworth DFV

 Took this to show where the gearbox went but also shows the suspension with out the brakes. back then the wishbones were titanium shaped for the airflow and rose jointed ends. Now they are made from carbon fibre

Exhaust  manifold, that is what my friends used to weld up, complicated? well if you knew how it was done it's not that hard. it is also made of titanium and as light as a feather

And this is a Hewland gearbox that drives the cars 

This is Keke Rosberg up at Silverstone

This one is driven my Jacques Laffite, you might notice his autograph on it as well

The next series of photos were taken at the Grove HQ when I visited. The cars lined up are some of the old F1 cars.

 Keke's car and may well be the bodywork in the first photo

Looking the other way starting with Red 5

Red 5 in action, note the autograph, well I new his mechanic (his son used to go to school with mine).
In case you don't know who is driving it is Nigel Mansell 

Top one is Recardo Patrasi  Nigel's team mate  who I always thought was an brilliant driver. the one in front is Jonny Herbert who I'm sure at the time was team mate to a certain Michael Schumacher
These are more championship winning cars, this time Damon Hill

And this is the engine out of one a V10.

This one is just waiting to go back in the car
The team trucks and it is only one car and spare per truck and they are kitted out like a workshop. One of the guys around the corner from me used to drive one of these to GP's

Nose cone

 This was as near as I could get to my Hero Nigel's car.
I remember from when I was working on Minis seeing F3 cars with Nigel in the paddock along with other drivers like Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna they all started off in grass roots racing and went on to drive for Frank Williams. When I hear Frank and broken his back in an accident I thought how can you recover from that but he did and was successful just as much. I remembered seeing Frank out for a run near Upton one lunchtime and the next time I saw him was in the local Chinese Restaurant where I live sat in his wheelchair it was clear he was not going to give up. His team has brought me  a lot of pleasure watching them race over the year and I home they continue sucess.
Sir Frank Williams was a legend. 


Saturday 27 November 2021

St Mary Hampton Poyle


This week the Church Explorer visits St Mary Hampton Poyle a church I found about when visiting the sister church in Kidlington. The church I found  and in a village not far from Oxford though to go there you would think you were in an isolated village. Please take the time to visit the link to see around thuis charming church 

Thursday 25 November 2021

Morning Dog Walk


A couple of weeks ago I was in Wales for a couple of days and on the saturated morning took our dog out fro a walk early in the morning along with my phone just in case 

A good job I did take my phone because looking back I saw the sun making its presents known

Making the clouds shine

Turning around the clouds were orange along the edge

The rock in the lake making a good subject with the still water and sky behind

The morning looks beautiful

looking down the lake from the path where we walked

The hills behind silhouetted

The hill in the distance lit by the sun

The sheep grazing with mist rising in the valley

Turning back I noticed the sky reflecting in the lake

The hill in the lake as well

The sky and hills mirrored in the lake.

I hope you have enjoyed the photos as much a I did taking them. If you cannot post a reply I will attainder, I'm having problems myself with Firefox though it does seem OK with MS Edge

Happy Skywatch