The move to MSSL (Oct. 1965)

John was one of the only 12 staff who took the plunge and in 1965 moved to the off-campus mansion at Holmbury St Mary, on the Surrey hills, which was going to host the Mullard Space Science Laboratory: this will eventually house more than 120 people at the turn of the millennium. John is the last of the original 12 'founders fathers' to retire.

Early days at MSSL

The ~1850 Victorian mansion, 'Holmbury House', was acquired by the Mullard Ltd electronics company (hence the name) and donated to UCL so that the 'Rocket Group' could be re-located on a site capable to allow further expansion, at a time when space research was expected to really 'take off'.

The Laboratory was officially opened by Dr F. E. Jones F.R.S., Managing Director of Mullard Ltd, in the presence of Prof. R. L. F. Boyd, Head of the Mullard Space Science Laboratory, and of Sir Harrie Massey F.R.S., Quain Professor of Physics at UCL, on 3rd May 1967. Copies of the programme, of the information pack for the press, of the history and work of MSSL, and of the speeches by Prof. Boyd and Dr Jones (speech at UCL and speech at MSSL) have been preserved and can still be read today*. Apart from the writing style and the typesetting, these documents are particularly interesting with respect to today's figures, for the numbers of staff (66) and the size of the support grant (150,000 pounds per year) in 1966, and the contribution (65,000 pounds) by Mullard Ltd towards the acquisition of Holmbury House in 1965.

*Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader

An expanded version of John's personal memories from the early MSSL days can be found here.