A Fairey Story by Ken Fostekew (Foz)

Zanzibar 1977

In 1977 the company was awarded a Directorate of Overseas Surveys (DOS) 166 contract to photograph the island of Zanzibar. As was often the case I was sent on ahead of the aircraft which was Beech B80 Queen Air G-AZOH, to organise the supply of breathing oxygen, transport, accommodation, and any other things that may have been needed.

At the briefing prior to departure I was instructed to make contact with the British High Commission in Dar-es-Salaam for advice on the dispatch of finished film to Reform Road. It wasn’t until the company tried to book me an airline ticket that it was discovered that East African Airlines had ceased to operate and as a result the border between Kenya and Tanzania was closed and no traffic between the two countries was allowed.

However, suddenly “Kenya Airways” appeared on the scene, so imagine my concern at LHR when I saw a Boeing 707 parked outside with “Kenya Airways” rather hastily painted on it. I relaxed somewhat on boarding to find that the crew were all in East Midlands uniforms, probably at that time the largest airline charter and leasing company in UK.

The flight arrived in Nairobi where I transferred to a Swiss Air for Dar-es-Salaam. I discovered that was the route into Rhodesia from Geneva to Johannesburg then back up to Salisbury. As the embargo on Rhodesia was still in operation, there were no direct flights from LHR to Salisbury – I learnt this from fellow passengers.

I arrived in Dar-es-Salaam about midday on Saturday and was unable to contact the High Commission until 9am on Monday, so looked around the city, not a very inspiring experience all rather run down with very little in what shops there were.

All in contrast with the descriptions that some other company people told me to expect, but of course, by then very much under the influence of the old Soviet Union. An example, road traffic was not allowed on Sundays due to fuel shortages and every ship in the port was Russian and the harbour side was littered with packing cases and wooden boxes all with Russian script on them. The larger ones had been made into “homes” for otherwise homeless local folk. 

I was at the High Commission on Monday prompt at 9am and taken to the office of Kevin O’Connell (I think that was his name?) and after giving him an outline of the work in Zanzibar, I was strongly advised never go out alone after 6pm as “Dar” was a pretty lawless place. Only the previous week a secretary from the Japanese Embassy had been murdered on the waterfront. Also, I was advised to register my passport, for the first time ever in my travels! 

G-AZOH arrived the 8th August with Captain John Mullin and Navigator/Tracker Ron Neal. We departed “Dar” for Zanzibar on the 10th August. The clove harvest had just been completed and the air was full of the aroma of cloves. Zanzibar and Pemba are well known as the spice islands.

The photo lab was set up in the survey department and I was introduced to Mr John Fernandez who was astounded to learn that mixing the developer and hypo was just a matter of adding water! at the correct temperatures, of course. A supply of ice is always essential in tropical climates. John showed me a collection of ancient tins of photo chemicals that were used many years ago when John was based on the island of Pemba along with an equally ancient enlarger and lenses.

The DOS surveyors were living in the same hotel, which was operated by the Indian Oberoi Hotel Group, and were able to brief us about the local conditions on the island. In contrast to the mainland, Zanzibar was very quiet and interesting but rather sad and very rundown with derelict buildings in the main town “Stonetown” many of which had simply collapsed and blocked off many of the narrow streets. Almost as if it had suffered an earthquake.

At the time of our visit Zanzibar had not really recovered from the revolution that had taken place in 1964. It became a Marxist state with no free trade and no shops and none of the usual markets that one finds in most other countries, very much a time warp with quite ancient cars running around, even two old Austin 7s remarkably still mobile.

We met the American girl who was in effect the US representative on Zanzibar and she explained that she was simply a “listening post” as the North Koreans and East Germans were very much in evidence. Our fuel had been shipped over in barrels by Dhow and refuelling was done by “wobble” pump as there were no facilities at the airport for fuel or any engineering, it had all been cleared away. The airport “shop” only opened for the daily Air Madagascar B737 and as soon as it departed everything closed again.

Travel around the island from one zone to another was strictly restricted, except for the DOS surveyors, though we were often promised a guided tour by the island’s chief surveyor, which didn’t happen until two days before our departure and a very rapid tour at that !. Our work progressed reasonably well given the tropical weather conditions. Our one serious incident was when we had a dead cut on the starboard engine and the tops of the coconut trees were getting rather too close for comfort. But thanks to the airmanship of pilot John Mullin we landed back safely only to find two magnetos had failed. A signal was sent to UK and engineer Ken O’Dell eventually arrived with two replacements and soon we were again serviceable.

Frequent trips were made to the mainland to dispatch processed film to UK.

On our return from one of the mainland trips, we learned that the company had gone into receivership, very worrying as our credit was stopped and Amex and Diners Club cards could not be used. One of the DOS surveyors reported that word had gone around asking who is this man Fostekew with 25,000 shillings in the bank – the local currency was the shilling. It was explained that it was to pay for the fuel to include hardship payment as the Dhow crew would cook their food with barrels of Avgas on board and cash had to be used. The credit situation was resolved after a couple of weeks. By then the season was coming to an end and the rainy season was imminent. The aircraft departed on the 17th of October for further work in Nigeria, while I set off back home.

On arrival in Nairobi I met the late Ian Smith and his wife Helen. Ian was working for a photographic survey company, the name of which escapes me! Helen was working for the British High Commission and had news of the company going into receivership long before we were informed. We had dinner together in the evening and the following morning I departed for London.  All in all a very interesting trip,

The work was finished the next year 1978 using the BN2 Islander G-AVKC. The crew were Captain Tom Kirkwood, navigator/tracker Adrian Saul and photographer Brian Corbin.

Now, of course, Zanzibar is open to tourists and quite a different place than it was in the 1960s and 1970, when there was still a poor old elephant tethered by chains in what was possibly once the Sultan’s palace and gardens, the remains of which were still visible. The house that was used by Dr Livingstone became a school and the old British Embassy where Dr Livingstone’s body was placed prior to returning to Britain is (or was) still there. It was quite disturbing to see school children being drilled in the “goose step” in the playground.

Dates courtesy of the late Ron Neal’s flying logbook.

Aerial photographic map of Rhodesia

An email has come in from Ian Titchner, who has in his possession a Fairey Air Surveys aerial photographic map 3ft x 4ft (presumably a mosaic) of Salisbury in Rhodesia, which he is offering free of charge to anyone who would appreciate it.

If anyone is interested, please email admin@faireysurveys.co.uk, and we will pass your message on – the Reply/Comments feature seems to have a glitch at the moment.

The email is below:

=============================
My name is Ian Titchner, I’m 59 years old and live in Cornwall, I have no connection to Zimbabwe or Fairey at all. For several years now I have been in possession of a huge and splendid black and white photographic aerial map of central Salisbury, Rhodesia. When I say huge …. it is 3ft wide and 4ft tall, it has some of the (old?) road names super-imposed onto it, also the names of some “important” buildings. I had intended to put it on eBay assuming that it may be of interest to past or present residents of Salisbury, but when I found your website I thought I’d offer it here first. I guess that the photograph was taken in the late 1950’s or early 1960’s, but I am no expert! The scale of the map/photograph is 10 inches to 1 mile. Anyway, it’s one of those things that keeps cropping up annually and I keep thinking that I’ll put it on eBay and I never get around to it. I pulled it out again this morning and had a good look at it and noticed the name Fairey Air Surveys, hence this eMail. It has been neatly folded for donkey’s years so there is minor damage where the folds cross each other, that said it is in excellent condition given that it must be over 50 years old. Because of the size of it, taking a photograph would not really do it justice. My question is ….. does anyone want it? I don’t want any money for it, simply eMail me your address and I will post it to you, it needs to be in the hands of somebody who will appreciate it! If “Admin” are not interested, please feel free to share this eMail on your site, in case somebody else is interested in it. Needless to say, I only have one of these so ultimately it will have to be sent to the first person to contact me.
==========================

John Penrose (Jack or Pen): photographs

Mike Penrose has sent an email with photographs and cine film stills from his father, John Owen Penrose, otherwise known as Jack or Pen.

If anyone can provide information on any of them, please let us know by email (admin@faireysurveys.co.uk) or by using the comment form below.

Click on the photographs for a larger image.

Jack Penrose (Pen) with Rapide

Jack Penrose (Pen) with a Dragon Rapide.

 

Pilot Jack Penrose with DC3 Charlie Alpha

Does anyone know who the other people in the photograph are?

Update January 2021:  Ken Fostekew has identified some of these.  L to R: 1?, 2?,       3 Peter Sharman, 4?, 5?, 6 Engineer Jim Roe?, 8 Pilot John Penrose.  The others probably clients.

 

Unidentified plane, possibly Sierra Leone. From Jack Penrose cine film

Can anyone identify this aeroplane?  Is it a Fairey Surveys aeroplane?  Possibly photographed in Sierra Leone.  Update from Ken Fostekew January 2021:  This is a Scottish Aviation Twin Pioneer, not an FSL aircraft, we used “Twin Pins” much later from Flight One at Staverton.

 

Unidentified plane (same as previous photo?). From Jack Penrose cine film.

Is this the same aeroplane as the previous photograph?

 

Anyone know who these people are? From Jack Penrose cine film.

Mike Penrose asks who is the man next to the aeroplane.  Possibly this is the same plane as in the previous photographs – note the blue stripe.  Update from Ken Fostekew January 2021:  The man on the left is Tom Kirkwood.

 

Image from Jack Penrose cine film

Another DC3 – Charlie Alpha again?

Neil Chisholm

Neil Chisholm (FSL 1969 to 1976) has found our website, and many of us may remember him.  He has sent a current photograph, and two older ones – one with Malcolm Eaton at White Waltham Cricket Club, and one from late 1976 with his Fairey Surveys tie.  He has included his email address if anyone would like to get in touch direct.

In his own words …..

===============================================================

NEIL CHISHOLM

I know this is taking COVID-19 distancing to ridiculous levels but this is Neil Chisholm ‘speaking’ to you from 884 km (549 miles) away. I realise that some of you may not know who I am but some may well remember me (and several more might well wish they didn’t) when I was at Reform Road for exactly 7 years from September 1969 (a mere 51 years ago!) to September 1976. Did also return to Maidenhead for a two-week spell (in 1977?) to run a CPD photogrammetric training course for operators but that doesn’t really count.

Lawrence Scott and Eric Holland had offered me a position straight from Glasgow University and I began as a photogrammetric operator (69-71), moved on to Project Control (71-73), then in the field as a land surveyor (73-74’ish) and finally as Mapping Research Officer (74’ish-76) where I worked closely with Bill Cheffins on various projects. So, although I was at FSL for only ~1/6th of my working life, it was the first 1/6th, and it was very influential on my subsequent career and I have very fond memories of happy albeit hard-working times. “Delivery of a job to specification and on time” was the FSL mantra and I like to think that it has been ingrained in me ever since.

I still remember the names of most of my past colleagues in each department (far too numerous to mention here) and the photographs in various places on the Fairey Surveys website jogged even more memories (and sad to see the passing of a few of them). I saw too the photograph of the 26 July 2019 reunion and I must admit to a twinge of regret that I hadn’t known about it – and the location would also have been especially nostalgic for me as I had played 7 seasons for White Waltham CC (so I both worked and played with Malcolm Eaton!).

It’d be great to hear directly from as many past colleagues and friends who feel so inclined and the easiest way would be to use the email address below. I have asked Gillian Wallace to add me to the database of folk to be contacted about future reunions as I reckon it might be worth the ~1100 mile round trip to catch up with (and surprise) some ‘well kent faces’ (whilst they, and I, are still functioning!).

With many memories

Neil

email:          neilandsheila@madasafish.com

P.S. Left FSL to join the staff of the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth and after 21 years there moved to Inverness to assist in the creation of the new University of the Highlands and Islands. Retired in 2010 and am an active Rotarian and a keen curler (still in Inverness).

Neil Chisholm 2020

Neil Chisholm with Malcolm Eaton at White Waltham Cricket Club

Neil Chisholm late 1976 with his favourite FSL tie

Neil Chisholm and Tony Furneaux at an inter department cricket match

Peter Redford RIP

Geoff Milsom has let us know that Peter Redford, one of the Fairey Surveys pilots, has died, though as yet there are no other details.  Peter and his wife Val were at the 2019 reunion at White Waltham, and are on the left of Ken Fostekew in the clubhouse doorway on the reunion photograph – shown below.

When we know more, it will be added to the post here.

Victor (Basil) Rathbone RIP

We have had an email from Vic Rathbone’s daughter and son to let us know that he died on 8th April 2020 at the age of 92:

================================================================

This is to let any of our Dad’s colleagues know that he passed away on Wednesday April 8th at the age of 92. A funeral was held In Derbyshire on Tuesday 28th April. Unfortunately because of the various Covid 19 restrictions there was limited family attendance.
He stayed mentally very sharp until the end, only stopping playing Bridge last year, but had been struggling with his health this year.
We believe he joined Faireys in 1954 when he left the army and married our mother. They emigrated to what was then Southern Rhodesia in 1957 and he rejoined Faireys on their return in 1964.
He loved his job and stayed at Faireys In Maidenhead for the rest of his working life, until he retired in November 1992, surviving many changes to the company including the change to Clyde Surveys, working in several departments over the years and making many friends.
Many of his colleagues and friends predeceased him but we are sure there are still a few people who will remember him.
Anne Woodward
Dave Rathbone
===============================================================
.
.
Vic was nicknamed ‘Basil’ after the actor Basil Rathbone, who played Sherlock Holmes in the classic ‘Hound of the Baskervilles’ film in 1939.
.
.
There are a couple of photographs on the website, copied here:
.
This photograph came from an album of Southern Rhodesia photographs from John Keay, passed on by Lawrence Scott.
.
.
Basil is number 26 on the far left of this photograph of Clyde Surveys staff in Maidenhead.  Does anyone have a date for the photograph?
.
.
If anyone has any other photographs or stories, please send them in (admin@faireysurveys.co.uk) and we’ll add them here, or post a comment below.
.
.

Peter Green RIP

Sad news has come in from Jan Karalus that Peter Green died on Wednesday 22nd February 2020.  Peter was a Land Surveyor with Fairey Surveys for many years, and during his time there worked on surveys for some historic infrastructure projects.  To mention just a few: the Channel Tunnel (both sides), the M!/M6 motorway link, Dungeness “B” power station and the Humber Bridge.  He (and his Mk 1 Land Rover) were remembered by Ross Dallas, in an article on land surveying at Fairey Surveys in the late 1960s (link below).

Land Surveying article by Ross Dallas

Dave Hadden, who joined Fairey Surveys as a new graduate in 1976, wrote of his memories working with Peter (link below).

Dave Hadden tribute to Peter Green

A trawl through the Fairey Surveys Newsletters (all on the website) has come up with the following articles about the high precision surveys that Peter did – two have photographs that look very like him:

FSL Newsletter 11, November 1973: Nuclear Power Survey

FSL Newsletter 13, October 1974: New Equipment for High Precision Survey Unit

FSL Newsletter 18, January 1978: Dungeness “B” Report wins prize

FSL Newsletter 22, January 1980: Survey Control for Bridges

More recently Peter was regular fixture at the reunions at White Waltham Cricket Club.  There is a good photograph of him on the 2013 reunion photograph, which was posted with a key to the attendees (Peter is #17):

FSL 2013 Reunion

Peter’s daughter Anne-Marie has sent in this photograph of him taken on 27th December 2019.

The funeral will be at Reading Crematorium on 14th February at 13:30 (please note change of time from 12:00 originally published).

 

 

Ian Smith RIP

Ian Smith’s daughter Kat Eves has contacted us with the sad news that her father Ian (John) Smith passed away on 22nd January 2020.

His funeral will be on Friday 14th February, 11:45 am, at Chiltern/Amersham Crematorium.

Kat sent this photograph.

Ian Smith was in the Photographic Department, and spent a lot of his time overseas.  He was a regular at the Maidenhead reunion, and a few years ago he gave us a set of photographs, unfortunately not annotated, which we put on the website (link below).  Most of them are overseas photographs, which definitely look like the good life in the South of France or Morocco, except perhaps for the battered aircraft!

https://www.faireysurveys.co.uk/from-ian-smith/