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!

R&I Group: A short history from Mike Wilkey

Mike Wilkey has compiled a short history of the Research and Instruments Group covering the period he worked there (1958 – 91) and the events his 2020 brain permits.  A great deal of the work was for the Ministry of Defence concerning airborne reconnaissance, although the design, manufacture and use of a wide range of commercial hydraulic vibration test equipment also became part of the business.

Click on the link below to view or download the history.

R&I Story


Richard Heath RIP

The following email has been received from the Jon Rankin, stepson of Richard (Dick) Heath, who was a surveyor for Fairey Surveys in the 1960s and again in the early 1970s.  Due to a problem with the website email, it was unfortunately only picked up on 28th July, too late for the funeral.

Richard worked (amongst other projects) on the Humber Bridge, and in Libya, and the family would appreciate hearing from anyone who has memories or stories of his time at Fairey Surveys.  Please contact Jon direct – contact details at the bottom of the email.

His family have sent a photograph.


Hello admins,

I just came across your fascinating site and wanted to share some news with you.

My step father was Richard (also known by most of his friends as Dick) Heath. He married my mum, Pat, in 1969 when I was just 7 years old.

He worked for Fairey Surveys as a land surveyor from the early / mid 60’s though to 69’ when he was seconded to the Directorate of Overseas Surveys, and was posted to the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu). He returned to the UK in 72, and did another stint with Fairey (I believe) before getting a job in 1973 in the Cayman Islands as deputy Chief Surveyor, where he remained until 1980 (that was a tough job!!!). I recall that he talked with incredible fondness about his time working for Fairey, on projects such as the Humber Bridge and the M4, as well as being posted to Saudi Arabia, Libya (including a run in with a certain young Ghadaffi) and the Bahamas (although that may have been on secondment to DOS). I remember meeting his old pal and Fairey’s colleague Mac (I believe Roy McDonnell) who popped up in a number of places where we were posted – he was a character, sadly no longer with us.

I write to you at this time because, very sadly, he passed away two weeks ago, from heart failure. He had been fit and active and mentally with-it right up until the end, and was living in Bath with my mum. His funeral will be held at the Crematorium at Bath on Friday 12th July at 1045. Should any of his ex-colleagues wish to attend they would be most welcome – the address is Haycombe Cemetery, 209 Whiteway Rd, Bath BA2 2RQ

Of course, I perfectly understand if people are not able to attend, but I, my brother and my sisters would be most happy if any of your readers have any stories or anecdotes that they would like to share about Dad – I will gladly pass them on to the rest of the family.

If anyone would like to make contact, I am most happy for you to post this on your site, if you see fit, and share my mobile and email – 07831 505857 and

With very best wishes

Jon Rankin



FSL Reunion 2019: group photograph

The 2019 reunion was held on 26th July, as usual at White Waltham Cricket Club, but this year it was held at lunchtime instead of in the evening.  This seemed generally popular, particularly for those who come from a distance, but please let us know if you disagree, or have any other suggestions for the occasion in future – use the Comments box below, or email

Despite the awful weather forecast, rain didn’t stop play, and we were able to sit outside to reminisce and eat the excellent buffet.  Many thanks to John Tompkins for organising the reunion so (apparently) effortlessly!

The club barman was roped in to take the group photograph, so hopefully everyone who attended is included.  Click on the photograph for a bigger image.  Let us know if you want a high resolution copy of the photograph (2.4 MB) by email.

If you attended and have any good photographs, please send them in ( and they can be added here for everyone to share.

More photographs received from Ken Fostekew:

Fairey Surveys reunion 2019

The Fairey Surveys annual reunion will be held on Friday 26th July 2019.

This year again it will be held at lunchtime – 12:00 to 15:30, as usual at White Waltham Cricket Club.

A finger buffet will be available at approximately 13:00, which also caters for vegetarians

If you have not been before, and would like to come, please let us know (, or download the form and send it in with a cheque before 19th July, and Google the White Waltham Cricket Club website for directions.  There is a charge of £15.20 per person for the buffet, and it helps to know numbers.

You are welcome to just turn up, but if you don’t want to eat, there is a small charge of £3.50 to cover hire of the clubhouse and bar staff.  Please introduce yourself when you arrive, and we would love to see any old photographs you may have!

FSL Reunion July 2019

Dennis Shearing RIP

Dennis Shearing was a surveyor in Fairey Surveys in the 1970s, an Australian from Adelaide, and he died in Australia in March this year at the age of 74.  For much of his life as a surveyor he slept on friends’ sofas or floors, in his old Land Rover (“Camel”), or in some remote spot where he was working.  But he ended his life in an amazing house in Kangaroo Island (off the coast of Adelaide), which he built himself.

He regularly timed his visits to the UK to coincide with the FSL annual reunions, so he was well known to most of us.

Ken Edwards attended Dennis’s memorial in Kangaroo Island, and Ken and Derek Minter jointly wrote the attached eulogy, which was read out at the service.  The photograph of Dennis in his trademark hat was taken in 2010 at the wedding of Ken’s daughter Rebekah.

Ken Edwards passed on the following notes from the memorial, and the photographs below (the Jenni mentioned is Dennis’s half sister).

Dennis’ farewell went very well. Jenni had arranged for a smaller group to be present at the gypsum (salt) lake where Dennis’ ashes were to be scattered. We all took a small handful and found a qiuet spot to remember him in our own way and scatter our small part of him.

An older friend from the island played harmonica and recited a poem “my old black billy” which was very poignant and appropriate for Dennis.

Back at the “Shed” at American River there was a much larger crowd (approx. 60 to 70) and quite a few wanted to speak about Dennis and the impact he made on their lives. I don’t think you would have known anyone there Derek but there were a couple of old surveyors and geophysicists who remembered Dennis from his time in the Lands Department and GeoSurveys. I have attached a phone photo I took of another photo which shows Dennis having an apple apparently being shot off his head by a colleague on a survey/geophysics expedition in the desert area of outback Qld. or SA. People at the gathering assured me the rifle was not loaded but we are talking Australia in the sixties here!

I’ve also sent a close up of a younger man and his paradise home on KI.

It was a great send off and I’m sure he would have approved.

Dennis Shearing eulogy

Dennis was a long term volunteer for WWOOF in Australia (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms), and their tribute to him can be read here: .

Click on each photograph for a larger image.



Photogrammetric Record obituaries

The Photogrammetric Record contacted us recently to offer their obituaries of former FSL employees to publish on the website.  We very much appreciate their offer, and attach below their obituaries of Bill Cheffins, Victor Laws, Col Rogers, W P Smith and Freddie Worton.

The obituary of Victor Laws also has additional notes from Col Rogers, who succeeded him as Managing Director of FSL.

Bill Cheffins obituary

Victor Laws obituary

Col Rogers obituary

W P Smith obituary

Freddie Worton obituary

All obituaries are copyright of The Photogrammetric Record, which is published by the Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry  Society and Wiley-Blackwell Publishing.

Walter Smith: Service of Thanksgiving

This message came from Barbara Johnson, Walter Smith’s daughter:

Dear Family, Friends and former Colleagues

Thank you for your expressions of sympathy at Dad’s passing.

The funeral took place quietly on 9 January and there will be a service of thanksgiving for his life on 26 February – details are below.

All are welcome.  An RSVP* would be helpful but is not essential.

With best wishes

Geoff and Barbara

Walter Purvis Smith Esq, CB, OBE, MA (Oxon), FRICS

8 March 1920 – 11 December 2018

A Service of Thanksgiving for his life will be held on

Tuesday 26 February 2019 at 12 noon

St Michael and All Angels Church, Lyndhurst, Hampshire


Nearest parking (3 mins walk, chargeable) is in

Lyndhurst Community Centre, Central Car Park, High Street, Lyndhurst SO43 7NY

The family hope you will be able to join them for refreshments after the service

* Emails to will be forwarded to the family