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 ( 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 …..



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



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 ( 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!

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



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.