July 28, 2021

My Radar Family Memories – Patricia Anne Lloyd (Nee McPhail)

My father, Arthur McPhail, was seconded from Hadfields Steelworks, Sheffield down to Malvern TRE in 1944. H

e first worked at the North Site (Pale Manor). I believe he worked on Defensive Weapons and Radar.

My first memories are of living in a flat in Teme Road, Tolladine, Worcester, along with other “Ministry Families”.

We later moved to Malvern, probably around 1948/9, to a prefab in Bawdsey Avenue off Pickersleigh Road. This little estate of prefabs had roads named after places pertinent to earlier Establishment sites such as Orford Way, Steamer Point and Matravers Road. We thought the prefabs were little palaces with built-in fridges, cookers and cupboards and a garden!

These prefabs are long since demolished!

Later in 1953 we moved to a 3 bedroomed Ministry House in Clerkenwell Crescent. I remember the day we moved in. My mother was 9 months pregnant, it rained all day and, as the road was not surfaced, there was mud everywhere. My poor Dad was on his hands and knees cleaning!!

Clerkenwell Crescent was like a little community, everyone knew each other and we children had a lovely time. The house was a semi, but very roomy and we had a big garden. My Dad grew lots of vegetables and he was very proud of his show of dahlias each year. I remember we always had a bonfire and fireworks in the garden on November 5th. The houses didn’t have garages and at first my Dad used to drive up to a garage on Graham Road to park his car overnight. At the end of Clerkenwell Crescent by the railway there was some land where there was an old building that the ATC used for their meetings, also there was an old Spitfire plane which we used to clamber over. This area was later cleared and garages were built for rent for the Ministry residents.

I lived at 16 Clerkenwell Crescent until I left when I married in 1968. During this time I remember Dad leaving North Site and moving over to South Site on St Andrews Road. Of course, I never really knew what he did as it was all top secret and he never spoke of his work. I do remember he often used to be picked up by car, driven usually by a young lady in uniform, to be taken to different places. He often used to go to Marconi in Rugby and went further afield to Fylingdales in North Yorkshire. I think the highlight of his career was when he was sent to the Rocket Range in Woomera near Adelaide in Australia. In those days flying time from UK to Australia was a week! I remember him telling us how they had steaks for breakfast and were then flown out by light aircraft to the Rocket Range each day.

I still have little ornaments of a kangaroo and a duck billed platypus. On the return trip he came via Singapore and brought us all gifts back from there. My sister still has a musical box. He bought himself a camera there and had big arguments with customers officers when he arrived back in the UK! He was gone for over 6 weeks and we were all pleased to see him back safely.

I, along with lots of other Ministry children, went to the Christmas Parties, both at North Site and South Site. These were really good with entertainment and food and Father Christmas always gave us a lovely present. The staff also had Christmas parties as the photo shows.

 

I remember, probably around 1965/6 I was going on a work course to Norwich and, as Dad was going up to London on the same day to an exhibition at Olympia, he said he would see me safely over London to catch my connection to Norwich. We set off from Great Malvern Station, I took charge of his important briefcase whilst he carried my suitcase. Unfortunately, I left his briefcase on the station was I in trouble! He managed to catch one of the staff at Malvern Link Station and they rang Great Malvern who were able to locate the briefcase and keep it safely until he returned later that day. What was in the briefcase I don’t know but it was obviously important!

Also he was often over at Defford climbing over satellite dishes, I remember him coming home from these trips shivering with cold.

I also remember that there were many sports activities and sports days. My Dad was in the Tug of War team amongst other things.

 

Another memory is a visit to North Site by the Queen, I remember standing on Avenue Road near Barnards Green with my Union Jack flag waiting to wave to the Queen as she was driven past.

Its all a long time ago now and the memories get shrouded in mist. I have no doubt there are many other things that I have forgotten about. It will be interesting to see if anyone recognises either themselves or members of their family in the photos.

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