Jimmy Cheffins – photos

Jimmy Cheffins’ daughter Helen Blackshaw and her sister attended the 2015 reunion at White Waltham Cricket Club, and have sent through some photographs of Jimmy’s time at Fairey Surveys.  It was obviously a Cheffins reunion as well, as Bill Cheffins’ daughter Patricia was also there, and the photographs she brought are on an earlier post!

Helen has sent five photographs, a couple of Jimmy in the office, and three out in the field.  The three field photographs have no dates or names.  Two are of surveyors, and Helen thinks the one with the cairn was taken in Iran.  The man with a chessboard is a mystery, and may be nothing to do with FSL, but was with the other survey photographs, so may be related.  But a collar and tie, playing chess in a field?

If anyone recognises a face or a place, please let us know!

Click on the photographs to enlarge.


Jimmy Cheffins in the FSL Drawing Office

Jimmy Cheffins and Jack Briggs in the FSL Drawing Office








Surveyor on cairn – Iran?

Surveyor on roof – no name or location information








Man in a field with chessboard







Fairey gatherings

With thanks to Ken Fostekew for the contribution:

The FSL reunion held at W/W Cricket Club 10th July was a
great success. Many thanks to John and Carol Tompkins for the hard work that
they put to make another memorable evening.

A gathering of a few FSL/Fairey Aviation Folk at White Waltham on Saturday
11th July for the scattering of ashes of the late Ron Neal. Ron’s widow
Sylvia travelled from her home at Lydd and the ceremony took place around
the ATA memorial behind the West London Aero Club.
Ron, was of course an ATC Cadet attached to ATA and accrued many flying
hours as pilots assistant with all the well known pilots of the day. As an
added bonus the Battle of Britain Memorial Spitfires and Hurricanes were
still at White Waltham after their display over London the day before and on
their departure two Hurricanes and one Spitfire did a low level flypast. Ron
would have loved it.

In attendance were…Geoff Milsom, Bob Berris, Don Green, Mr and Mrs Paul
Singleton, Derek Minter, Tony Bamford, John Tompkins, Ken and Jean Fostekew
and of course Mrs Sylvia Neal.

Bill Cheffins – photos and memorabilia

Bill Cheffins’ daughter Patricia was over from her home in Canada, and came to the reunion in July with a lot of photographs and other material that she inherited from Bill.  She very kindly loaned us some of it to scan in to share with all those who remember him.

There are gaps in the information.  We don’t know who all the people in the photographs are, or all the dates or places, and would appreciate help from anyone who recognises them.  There are also a couple of items that aren’t totally relevant to Fairey Surveys, but relate to the mapping industry generally, and look really interesting, so they have been included too.

BC01 Social This had no details except for the names, but the people and setting match one of Tony Furneaux’s photographs (AF58, see post in Departments), which Tony identified as an FSL Christmas party at White Waltham in the 1950s.



BC02 Two men and the seaNo details at all on this photograph – anyone recognise the people?



BC05 WW mapping teamWith the immaculate white coats, and the scruffy building in the background, it’s assumed that this is Bill’s Mapping team at the White Waltham offices.



BC10 Office socialThis one is a social event from some time in the 1970s.  Top row, l-r Bix Clark, Ken Harris, Vic/Baz Rathbone, Gerry Jones, Tommy Thomson, John Keay, Vic Harding, Tony Dady.  Bottom row l-r: Pete Challis, Jean Fostekew, John Churchard, Harry Hodgkinson.  Presumably Bill Cheffins took the photograph, as he is not in the picture.


BC06 Site visit possibly BC07 Site visit 2 possibly

These two photographs look like a pair, taken on a site visit or trip out somewhere.

BC08 Conference Zeiss or photogrammetryThis looks like a gathering for an international conference, perhaps the Photogrammetric Society?  As Bill was the Honorary Secretary, this could be what put him in the front row, ahead of    W P Smith.



Conference list
This is just a list of names, but it could be the list of attendees at a conference, perhaps linked to the photograph above.  Certainly a list of the good and the great in the mapping world (and a great example of Bill Cheffins’ absolutely beautiful handwriting).

Photogrammetric Society AGM 1980

This is a copy of a ballot paper for the Officers’ Election at the AGM of the Photogrammetric Society in 1980, showing the main four officers, including Bill, being returned unopposed.  This is another list of many of the key people involved in aerial survey at the time.  The Ordnance Survey member was still a member of the Armed Forces, a reminder that Walter Smith was the first civilian Director General of the Ordnance Survey, when he joined them in 1977.

Photogrammetry in Orthodontics 1969

This is a paper written by Bill Cheffins and Bix Clark on the use of photogrammetry in orthodontics, enabling much more precise measurements for reconstructive dental work.

FSL Mapping Division reorganisation 1963

This is the company announcement of the reorganisation that installed Bill Cheffins as apparently UK Mapping head without a title.

Brigadier Martin Hotine quotation

And finally, this quotation from Brigadier Martin Hotine, who was responsible for the 26-year retriangulation of Great Britain which completed in 1962, written on the back of a punched card.

BC09 Bill Cheffins and family c1955


And this is just a great photograph of Bill Cheffins and his family in about 1955.

Alex Copeland

It is with great sadness that we have to announce that Alex Copeland passed away on 16th April 2015.  He had lived for over 30 years in Adelaide, South Australia, running the ground geophysical survey company Search Exploration Services with his partner Gerry Bown.  His funeral and the gathering afterwards were held in Carrickalunga, about 100 km south of Adelaide.  It is here that Alex and Gerry have their beloved beachside ‘shack’, and where the Union Jack flies every day except Anzac Day and Australia Day.











Alex started at Fairey Surveys as a draughtsman, but over the years became involved with airborne and ground geophysics, working all over the world.  He was always cheerful, always helpful and very hardworking.  Alex lived life to the full, and made lasting friends wherever he was – things were definitely not boring when he was around.

One of Alex’s old friends, Kim Frankcombe, was at the funeral and the wake, and has sent the obituary, and a copy of the memorial service booklet, which are attached, and some personal notes from the day:-

“The funeral and wake went well with a lot of old familiar faces there, both from my geophysics and rugby past. The church held 80 and both Alex and Gerry had wanted a quiet affair but it was standing room only. The public event at the British Hotel later that night had even more people.

With a large rugby crowd there was plenty of support for the two hymns, the Welsh and English rugby teams’ hymns. Apparently they were a late change as Alex had originally wanted “Always look on the bright side of life” which would also have been very appropriate.

In Nick Sheard’s Eulogy he told the story of bailing Alex out of the Cobar police station after he was caught drink driving after he and Nick had spent three hours with an Eski of beer watching a mechanic weld up his old Hilux. He decided to give the arresting officer the benefit of his thoughts which resulted in him being held for the night. He claims to have spent the night dragging a tin mug across the bars of his cell to let them know he was still there.

There was also plenty of support for Alex being a scary driver from all those who he’d taken for a ride in his E-Type which is now in SA with Gerry.”

Memorial booklet:  AC_Memorial                     Click on the title to open the file (if it displays sideways, download and open with Adobe Reader, then click on View, Rotate)

Obituary:               AlexCopeland_Obit            Click on the title to open the file

Many of Alex’s friends and old colleagues will have their own stories about him (and possibly his cars!) – please send them in on the Comments page, or by email to admin@faireysurveys.co.uk


Ron Neal: Obituary

Ron Neal funeral service

The funeral service for Ron Neal was held on 21st April 2015.  It was attended by his widow Sylvia, family, friends and neighbours, and a number of old colleagues from Fairey Surveys, including Geoff Milsom, Bob Berris and Ken and Jean Fostekew.  It is hoped that it can be arranged for Ron’s ashes to scattered on White Waltham airfield a bit later in the summer.

Ken Fostekew has given us this brief obituary:

Ron was a 16 year old ATC Cadet attached to the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA), along with Don Ellis.  Ron had some memorable flights with the ATA and was full of yarns. He flew with Jim Mollison to Hulavington in a Ventura and had to crawl into the tail to release the tailwheel as it had jammed, and for that Jim treated Ron to a slap up lunch in the mess.  On another occasion Ron and another cadet went to Scotland with Gerard d’Erlanger in a PBY Catalina flying boat for mooring training.  At the end of each session both boys were soaked to the skin, and d’Erlanger gave them each £1 for their supper and a trip to the cinema. Ron also flew with Lettice Curtis and Joan Hughes, pioneering ATA women pilots, in Halifaxes, Lancasters etc.

Ron obtained his PPL and was a founder member of the embryo Fairey Aviation Flying Club at White Waltham.  After his many years as a pilot with Fairey Surveys, redundancy happened, as it did with many of us.  Ron then moved to Lydd in Kent and flew with a company photographing shipping in the channel (possibly for US Naval Intelligence) until retirement age at 65.  His last years were spent house bound and then bed ridden.
If anyone has any special memories or stories about Ron Neal, we would be happy to add them to this page to share with the FSL community.  Contact us at admin@faireysurveys.co.uk.



Ron Neal

New has come in from Ken Fostekew that Ron Neal has passed away.  Ron was one of Fairey Surveys’ well known and loved pilots.  More details will be posted when they arrive.

The Crew

Ron is fourth from the left in this photograph from Len Sellwood of the crew from a Nigeria survey in 1974

Syrian survey 1947

These photographs and newspaper cuttings came from Kieran (Ken) Roche via his brother Gerry Roche.  Kieran was the Flight engineer on what was described as the first ‘Fairey Surveys’ flight out of White Waltham in 1947.

KR Syria_0001  KR Syria_0002

Air Survey aircraft (AIRSPEED OXFORD). First ‘Fairey Surveys’ flight out of White Waltham, 1947. Left to right: Brian Attwell (management), Richard Younghusband (pilot), Ken Roche (engineer), Group Captain Lawes (management).  Richard Younghusband, has a claim to fame from even earlier.  He was apparently flying back from France the day war broke out, and triggered off the first English World War 2 air raid alarm.

KR Syria_0003

Hotel Baron, Aleppo, Syria.
This was our hotel and x marks the spot where we usually sit at night nattering.  This was taken during the siesta period, hence the deserted appearance of the street, shops closed etc.  Only a few Bedouin at large.

KR Syria_0004

Aleppo, Syria.  Air Survey photographers and Ken Roche with medieval citadel in background.  From left: Freddie Worton, John Rushton, Ken Roche, ?

KR Syria_0006

Aleppo, Syria.  Time off …  Left to right: ?, Ken Roche (engineer), Richard Younghusband (pilot).

KR Syrian dam survey newspaper cutting

Newpaper cutting from the Daily Telegraph in 1968, about the building of the Aleppo dam on the Euphrates river.

KR Syrian Hotel Baron newspaper cutting

The Hotel Baron in Aleppo had a long history and many interesting guests on the register.  The last sentence of this press cutting is quite poignant.  A couple of website links give information on the current state of the Hotel Baron and the Mazloumian family:



More news of the Hotel Baron from the Times on 14th May 2016.  Mr Mazloumian died recently, and the hotel has taken a couple of mortar hits, but it is still standing and occupied by Mr Mazloumain’s widow and three refugee families.

Hotel Baron Aleppo update May 2016





Photographs from Ulrich Münzer

Ulrich (Uli) came to Fairey Surveys for survey experience during two summers – June to September of 1967 and July to September of 1968, and lodged with Eddie Holmes during his time here.

He is now Dr Ulrich Münzer of LMU University in Munich, Faculty of Geosciences, with a speciality in subglacial volcanoes in Iceland. Details and even a photograph here: www.isviews.geo.lmu.de

He spends summers in Iceland, so can’t get to the reunions, but has sent in some photographs of his time at Fairey Surveys, and his reference from Lawrence Scott when he left in 1968.

Click on the photographs to enlarge.

Dakota Whiskey Charlie before its FSL repainting

Dakota Whiskey Charlie before its FSL repainting

Wild A8s.  John Churchard, John Parfitt and John Keay

Wild A8s. John Churchard, John Parfitt and John Keay

UM photographs_0007

Mosaicing.  Pete Sharman, Stan?, ?

Mosaicing. Pete Sharman, Stan?, ?

Kelsh Plotter, operator unknown

Kelsh Plotter, operator unknown

Lots of Kelsh Plotters

Lots of Kelsh Plotters

Zeiss C8 Stereoplanigraph, Tony Dady operating

Zeiss C8 Stereoplanigraph, Tony Dady operating

Wild A8 - Don't know who the operator is.

Wild A8 – Don’t know who the operator is.

Wild A8.  Harry Hodge?

Wild A8. Harry Hodge?

Great cars - and is that Peter Challis's Ford Anglia?

Great cars – and is that Peter Challis’s Ford Anglia?

Compilation Department 1968, Peter Challis in the white coat

Compilation Department 1968, Peter Challis in the white coat

Ulrich Münzer (foreground) and Eddie Holmes (left), probably at Farnborough Air Show

Ulrich Münzer (foreground) and Eddie Holmes (left), probably at Farnborough Air Show

UM FSL reference 1968