Nostalgic musings

Early days in London

In my recent post Electrosensitivity, I wrote about “spending a number of years studying for a Diploma in Electrical Engineering at Faraday House, Southampton Row, London and becoming a UK Radio Amateur at the age of 17 (G3PUK)“.

In reverse order, I shall start with becoming a UK Radio Amateur, now rather back in the mists of time!

After my father died in 1956 my mother subsequently remarried.  Her new husband was Richard Mills and he was very knowledgeable about radio matters; he was a technical author in the radio-communications industry.  It was Richard, my step-dad, who showed me how to make a crystal set and I started listening to the strange world of wireless radio.  It fascinated me and motivated me to save up my pennies and buy an ex-military radio receiver known as a R1155.


I had joined the Harrow Radio Society who, amazingly, are still active today, as their website demonstrates.

Under the fabulous tutelage of many of the older ‘hams’ I went on to sit my exams and on Valentine’s Day 1962 was awarded the Postmaster-General’s Amateur Radio Certificate.  I applied for a call-sign and was allocated G3PUK.  I was just 17 years old!



Now some memories of Faraday House.  I can do no better than refer you to an article that appeared on the Electrical Review website in the UK.  As the article was published over three years ago, I think republishing it on Learning from Dogs isn’t being too naughty.


Faraday House Association closes after 105 years


It is with sadness we report the Faraday House Old Students Association (FHOSA) is to close after operating continuously over the last 105 years. It had been host to thousands of chartered electrical engineers. The Association membership is derived from old students of Faraday House.

In 1888 the revised Electric Lighting Act encouraged many local authorities to apply for Parliamentary Powers to establish generating stations to transmit power. Faraday House was founded to train engineers in this new practice. The college started life as the Electrical Standardising, Testing and Training Institution at Charing Cross but in June 1890 used the name Faraday House. It was located in the Charing Cross area, and fees were 100 guineas per annum. The first Faraday House Dinner was held in 1895 – it was free and some 170 attended. In 1905 the FHOSA was formed and 100 old students joined. A move was then made to Southampton Row. By now the college had 110 students.

In 1909 Dr Russell was appointed principal, and pioneered the sandwich course. This meant students had a year or so of theory and then experienced work in industry, returning again to more theory. By 1914 many old students joined up and a crash course was started to aid the war effort. By 1919 some 350 had been in the services and 34 had died. In 1920 the fees had risen to 300 guineas.

By 1928 1000 students had joined the Old Students Association and in 1929 a 40th anniversary dinner was held. In 1939 a discussion with the governors resulted in a decision to evacuate the college to Thurlestone in Devon. A new principal, Dr WRC Coode-Adams, took over from Dr Russell. Faraday House took over the Links Hotel. Staff and students who were married lived in the hotel or in houses that had been taken over by the college.

In 1942 the college returned to Southampton Row. After the war Faraday House had difficulty in recruiting, students were lured to other colleges and universities by grants. In 1957 Mr GH Randolph Martin was appointed Principal. He had been a lecturer at the college since 1948. The college closed its doors in 1967 as losses were now running at £20,000 per year.

During its lifetime Faraday House produced a succession of engineers who attained the most senior positions in industry and electrical supply in many countries, and six old students have been president of the Institution of Electrical Engineers (now the IET).

The Old Students Association has a membership that is steadily growing older and shrinking as members die. The closure was inevitable without younger people coming forward to run it. The FHOSA will shut its doors finally after the Annual General Meeting in March 2010.

Here’s the front of the building.

Faraday House, London
Faraday House, London

How the years have flown by!

4 thoughts on “Nostalgic musings

  1. That was a fascinating read for this fellow geek.
    HAM radio enthusiasts were also early Internet adopters and to some degree, many of them made the transition away from it. Not all, though. Canadian Astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield, currently on the International Space Station makes frequent contact with Canadian schools through HAM.


    1. Thanks Maurice. When I read the post out to Jeannie last night she thought it was a touch self-indulgent. For me the greatest time to be an ‘amateur’ was years later when I was living on a yacht and attempting some long-distance voyages.

      Great reception conditions!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.