Chelmsford Amateur Radio Society

James (Jimmy) Watt G6ZC - Silent Key
1915?  -  12-Jan-2008, Age 93


Jimmy Watt, G6ZC became a Silent Key on 12th January, 2008, aged 93.

Jimmy was a Honorable Life Member of CARS.

The Service was held at Chelmsford Crematorium on Monday, 28th January.   Donations were to either Essex Wildlife Trust or Friends of Orkney Wireless Museum, C/O Paul King, Funeral Directors, 6 Corporation Road, CHELMSFORD. CM1 2AR Tel 01245 264411.

We extend our sympathy to Mrs Mary Watt & Family.

Report of the Funeral of Jimmy G6ZC

The Funeral of James Watt took place on Monday, 28th January in the Crematorium, Chelmsford. It was a foggy day but the Service was well attended, CARS was represented by President, Harry Heap, G5HF accompanied by Ethel. Also present was Vice President Charles Shelton, G0GJS; Carl Thomson, G3PEM & Chairman, John Bowen, G8DET.   During the service mention was made on three occasions of Jimmy’s Amateur Radio activities.

Afterwards John, G8DET attended the Wake held at the South Lodge Hotel and met Tim Watt (Son) and Pam Penkman (Daughter). Everyone talked about Jimmy listening to Amateur Radio before he reactivated his callsign and the equipment he had in his shack. Was it a FT101?

Jimmy had a Brother, John (but everyone called him Jack) and he held the Call-sign GM3CCK. His daughter lives in Orkney but flew down for the funeral and holds the Call-sign GM4LNN and is called Kim although her Licence refers to Christine Foden. A few copies of the February CARS Newsletter were given out.

Jimmy provided the stimulation to enable her to pass her Morse which was useful during a 3-month period when she lost her voice and used to send Morse from Orkney but receive voice from G6ZC on their Monday morning schedules.
The normal Monday schedules went on for many years – Brian, G3CVI used to join them sometimes.

Kim had a desire to build a 30-Line revolving disk TV Receiver along the lines of a Baird. Assisted by other Amateurs who had “listened” in to the Monday QSOs it was made to work in about 1982.

Jimmy was asked to open the Orkney Wireless Museum but as he could not attend Kim did it first in St Margaret’s Hall in 1980, and again in its present location in Kirkwall in 1995. It contains much ex-RAF radio equipment used to communicate with planes crossing the Atlantic, Coast Guard equipment used to communicate with shipping in Scapa Flow and what was in the 1950/60s, “state of the art”, radars.

CARS extend our thanks to Mary Watt & Family for the warm welcome extended.

John G8DET


James Watt G6ZC joined CARS, or the Chelmsford RSGB Group as it was then known, nearly 72 years ago in mid 1936 just after he had moved to Chelmsford to work for Marconi. A few weeks after arriving in the town he had worn holes in all his socks and so went to purchase some new ones from a local outfitter in the High Street. This happened to be the shop run by Laurie Fuller, G6LB and on the counter was a copy of the T&R Bulletin. James expressed some interest, they got talking, and the rest as they say, is history!

One of his earliest involvements with the club was with NFD. During the early 1940's the Club didn't have a regular meeting venue and James, G6ZC was one of those who made his house available for meetings.

Trevor M5AKA

Bill Morcom, James Watt , G6ZC (seated); Pippa Heap, Mary Watt, Nelida Varney & Louis Varney G5RV.
Photo taken by Harry Heap, G5HF on the 10th September, 1987.

James Watt G6ZC - A Superb Engineer

James attended meetings regularly but by the time I had joined in 1991 he had ceased to attend although retaining his interest in Amateur Radio. After retirement he maintained a regular sked with two other ex colleagues, George Grisdale, G5GZ and Jerry Todd, G2KV. He was one of that select band of secret listeners in WWII.

In 1996 the Club put on a Nostalgia Evening which tried to tell the story of CARS. On that occasion we had the pleasure of James's company for the evening and he proved to be a great raconteur. He told us an amusing story about a pre-war publicity stunt, put on by Marconi at their Croydon depot, when "wireless" was all the rage.
The London Radio Orchestra was scheduled to make a live broadcast from an aeroplane. In the best interests of safety all the players and their instruments were meticulously weighed and the results recorded by a loading clerk. All went well until the plane took off and the pilot only just managed to get it airborne at the end of the runway. The broadcast was a great success. On landing the pilot had a quiet word with the clerk and after a re-check it transpired that the piano had been loaded earlier and did not appear on the bill of loading! To do it full justice that story requires a tape recorder rather than a word processor.

In a more serious vein, James told us about a project he was involved with during WWII. This was the design of an underwater supersonic buoy which was used as a navigational aid to guide naval surface ships and submarines into landing places on the enemy coast. The design work and trials on the development models were carried out within about nine months. The early buoys were laid by surface ships or submarines at periscope depth. Later models could be fired from a submarine's torpedo tubes thus avoiding possible observation by the enemy but this had required some involved design work to adjust the buoyancy. Having completed the design, James was then involved with sea trials on both ships and submarines, an experience he was not likely to forget! The supersonic signals were transmitted at pre-determined intervals and could be heard by a ship's ASDIC for a distance of five miles. After a set time, or if they were swept up by minesweepers, they were designed to self-destruct!

The buoys were successfully employed in the Mediterranean and on D-Day. He showed us the only piece of surviving hardware from the project, a stepping mechanism used in the Mk.1 models. Later versions used a well tried time clock as used in gas lamps. Later on he presented some of the drawings to Sandford Mill.

Jimmy Watt had a distinguished career at Marconi having been in charge of Maritime Development including communications and radar. Eventually he was appointed Technical Manager of the Maritime Division. As a Manager he was highly respected technically and well liked by his staff.

Geoff G7KLV.

James (Jimmy) Watt G6ZC – Tribute

I first met Jimmy at the small gatherings of Radio Amateurs in the Running Mare, Galleywood, where Louis Varney G5RV held forth during and after WWII. I also met him at meetings of the Chelmsford Engineering Society. We both let our Licences lapse after the War, as we were both busy building our careers and raising families.

During the early 1980s we were nearing retirement and at a meeting of the CES Jimmy told me he had applied to get his pre-war licence back and he suggested I should do the same. The old Post Office had no records from before the War so we had to prove we had held the licence by supplying written evidence, which we both did. Jimmy got back on the air very quickly and invited me to visit him for a demo. This spurred me on to do the same.

Jimmy came from the Orkneys and never lost his delightful accent. He was a very friendly character with a quiet sense of humour and I remember how he told us that he had the windows in his house blown in by a bomb during the War. "Little daggers of glass impaled themselves in the wardrobe opposite the window." Fortunately no-one got in the way.

He had regular skeds with Orkney including a reverend gentleman at the church, and who had fixed an aerial to the top of the steeple.

Jimmy was a brilliant engineer and a wonderful person and I was very grateful to him for all the help he gave me when I got back on the air.

Harry G5HF

James Watt G6ZC; Bill Morcom, Pippa Heap, Mary Watt, Nelida Varney & Harry Heap, G5HF.
Photo taken by Louis Varney, G5RV on the 10th September 1987.
Bill Morcom was the Marconi Communication Chief Transmitter Engineer and lived in Galleywood Road near Louis Varney.

Memories of Jimmy G6ZC

Jimmy was the Manager of the Maritime Division of MWT and I was a member of the Company's Export Department at that time. I looked after the Soviet Union and North Africa (one territory was supposed to provide light relief for the other!). I passed to him market intelligence and opportunities for the products in his Division.

Charles Shelton G0GJS

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