When my Dad left the Royal Navy in 1968, for a short time he worked as a television repairer and he had to learn all about the emerging technology of colour. He didn’t enjoy this work, however, and joined the Civil Aviation Authority where he spent the rest of his working life until he died in 1987. This re-acquainted him with working in aviation as an electrical and electronic engineer. He did his initial training at Bletchley and then was sent out on installation work at various airports and other locations related to air traffic control. During this period he sent twenty postcards to his Mum (my grandmother Violet), whilst he was working away from home between 1972 and 1976 that she kept in an album. These postcards were passed on to my Aunty Betty, when Granny died and then given to me by my cousin Peter when my Aunt died.
The first postcard is the MV Hebrides, of the Caledonian MacBrayne fleet, docking at Tarbert on the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides islands, Scotland and was dated 10th April 1972 with a 3p stamp. My grandmother was living at 13 Fairlight Road, Eastbourne, East Sussex, when most of these postcards were sent.
The second postcard is of a Skyways International jet at Ashford Airport in Kent. The plane is a Hawker Siddeley 748. Ashford Airport was at Lympne and it closed in 1974. Skyways International operated for a short time from Lympne and then from nearby Lydd Airport until they stopped trading. The postcard was sent on 20th April 1972 again with a 3p stamp and a rather elegant post-mark from “Spacious and Gracious” Folkestone. Dad said he was working there for the week and enjoying himself.
The third postcard is of the Cuthred Isle of Wight Ferry operated by Sealink. It was dated 25th April 1972 and posted with two 1½p stamps to make up the 3p needed. It states that the Cuthred was the boat on which he crossed and the card was posted in Ventnor.
The fourth postcard was from The Winter Gardens, Ventnor, Isle of Wight on 2nd May 1972. It noted that he was expected to be working at Gatwick Airport (the second London Airport) for a change, which was the closest to home. This time the 3p postage was made up of a 2p stamp and two ½p stamps, a new combination.
The fifth postcard was from Dinham Bridge, Ludlow, Shropshire, England near the Welsh border. It was dated 9th May 1972 and he reverted to 2 x 1½p stamps to make up the 3p. He notes that he had the view of Ludlow Castle at the top of the postcard from his hotel. He also thanked his Mum for the bottle of Sherry, I guess this was for his birthday on the 10th May.
The sixth postcard was from “The Three Locks” at Bletchley on 13th June 1972. He says he was half way through his training course and was doing OK. He was obviously on a Civil Aviation refresher or update course, because this was several years after he joined. Postage still 3p but only one stamp used!
The seventh postcard was from Heathrow airport, the main London airport and shows The Control Tower from the direction of Terminal 2. It was sent on 22nd May 1972 and the postage was still 3p.
The eighth postcard is from Rhoose, the name of nearby Cardiff airport. It was sent for 3p on 7th September 1972.
The ninth postcard is from the Severn Bridge dated 19th September 1972. It was post marked Barry, Glamorgan in South Wales, which is near the airport at Cardiff. He had breakfast at 7.30 by the bridge and arrived at the airport at 9am. The postage was 2 ½p, made up of two 1p stamps and one ½p stamp, so I guess this was second class postage, used for the first time to his Mum.
The tenth postcard is from Prestwick Airport in Scotland, near Glasgow. Dad told me this was unique in the British Isles, because both military and civilian aircraft were controlled through the airport. I don’t know if this is still true. It was sent for 3p on 5th October 1972.
The eleventh postcard is again from Heathrow dated 16th October 1972 and is of Terminal 1 from the Control Tower. Dad says he was finishing on Wednesday and then he was off to Scotland on Saturday. The 3p stamp was postmarked Hounslow and had an accompanying postmark “Remember to use the postcode,” a campaign I remember well.
The twelfth postcard is from Gloucester dated 18th July 1973 and is of St Nicholas Church in Westgate, the tower of which is 3 feet out of true. This where I lived from near the end of 1972 until the autumn of 1974. My son Simon was born here in 1973 and my daughter Louise was born here just before we moved back to Sussex. I suspect that my Dad sent this postcard when he visited us shortly after Simon was born. Dad says he had a nice day in Wales yesterday and was off to Bolton tomorrow, so I guess that was work related.
The thirteen postcard was sent from Edinburgh and features the Royal Palace at Balmoral. It is postmarked Paisley, Renfrewshire by the 3p stamp and was dated 1st March 1974. Dad says he was passing through Glasgow on his way to Tiree, so he did not have a Royal engagement.
The fourteenth postcard was sent from the Isle of Tiree, the most westerly of the the Inner Hebrides, Scotland on 4th March 1974. He had travelled there via Aberdeen. The post card had Scottish 3½p stamp, so the postage rate had increased. The picture is of Balephuil Bay. My Dad loved Tiree and when a vacancy for a permanent Civil Aviation post came up, him and Mum held a family meeting to see if we were interested in relocating. As it would have meant going to boarding school in Oban, we respectfully declined (with horror really), because the concept of boarding school was alien when we had always lived at home. This family meeting took place a few years before the postcard was sent, because I would have been 17 or so at the time, so maybe in 1969.
The fifteenth postcard was sent from the Lake District in Northern England, from the High Crag mountain above Buttermere. It was posted on 27th April 1974, with a 3½p stamp and says Dad was not working far from here.
The sixteenth postcard was sent from Appleby, Cumbria on 14th May 1974 with a 3½p stamp. This county is the one between the Lake District and the Scottish border. Dad was staying around the corner from the picture.
The seventeenth postcard was sent from Manchester Airport, the premier airport in the North of England, on 10th October 1974. It noted that he was working in the building behind the aircraft. Dad also said, Mum was coming up next week, so they could visit her mother (my grandmother Kate Finn), who was living near Manchester. This postcard was sent with a 4½p Churchill Centenary stamp. This was the last card to be sent to Fairlight Road, Eastbourne.
The eighteenth postcard was sent from Edinburgh, Scotland and it was sent on 12th June 1975, with a 5½p stamp. It was addressed to my grandmother at 19 Sutherland Court, the Hydneye, Hampden Park, Eastbourne. This was a warden controlled block and enabled additional support as her health deteriorated.
The nineteenth postcard was sent from Bantry Bay, West Cork, Ireland in 1976 and was addressed to 17 Sutherland Court. I don’t know whether the previous card to number 19 was an error or whether my Gran had moved. The postmark cannot be read other than it being 1976 and as it was addressed to Sutherland Court it must have been posted after the card above. The card has an Irish (Eire) stamp affixed that commemorates Saint Oliver Plunkett. Dad said he was able to see Bantry Bay from the top of Mount Gabriel, which seems to be where he was working.
The twentieth and final postcard was sent from Glasgow Airport, Scotland on 7th June 1976. The card had an 8½p stamp and was postmarked Paisley where Dad was staying for his work at the airport. I don’t know if it was this trip but, I bumped into my Dad in the terminal at Glasgow once. He was returning from Stornaway in the Outer Hebrides Islands and changing planes in Glasgow. We were on different flights back to London. I worked for Tilling Construction from mid 1974 to mid 1976, so we had our impromptu meeting between those dates.
It is highly likely that my Dad sent earlier and later postcards to my Grandmother, who died in 1987. I know my cousin Peter has a number of other files that need sorting out. I thought that these postcards, in the main, showed the airports as they were back in the early to mid 1970s. They are a record of what airports used to look like before large construction projects, to keep pace with the growth in air traffic, transformed then into much larger operations.