September 1996 sees the fiftieth anniversary of the formation of the STL Athletic and Social Club at Enfield which was to become one of the roots of the Nortel Sports and Social Club as it exists today.

Shortly after moving to Harlow in 1952 the STC roots of the Club were formed and over the succeeding years the two Clubs have both met in friendly rivalry and combined forces to do battle with the outside sports world.

Members and the Company have always supported each other in providing the constantly changing sports and social needs of a progressive Club.

Today, after the changes in ownership which find the members now being employed by separate companies, Nortel, Farnell, C-MAC and BLP, the spirit prevails and greatly contributes to the quality family cultures of the individual operations.

Even today life need not be “all work and no play” and the Nortel Sports and Social Club does its bit to assist its members in diversifying their interests.

May it continue to do so for many years to come.

Gordon Harris











In the immediate post World War Two period there was very little public entertainment, the cinema and the “wireless” were most peoples leisure activities. Television was, at that time, limited to a single channel broadcasting for a few hours each evening and only a few had receiving sets. Other pastimes were largely those that people organised for themselves.

Social clubs organised at ones place of work were therefore the norm and well patronised. These were able to cater for wide ranges of both sports and social and interest activities.

The Standard Telephones and Cables Limited (STC) Board of Directors and in particular the Managing Director, later Chairman, Sir Thomas Spencer, actively encouraged and supported such clubs and thriving ones already existed at the major sites at New Southgate, North Woolwich, Leicester, Footscray and Ilminster.

It was therefore natural that, when the Company established a new research facility, Standard Telecommunications Laboratories Limited (STL) at Progress Way, Enfield in December 1945, an Athletic and Social Club for the site soon followed.

A Christmas function had been held in that December for the two dozen people already working on the site and a number of evening functions and socials were held throughout 1946. The STL Athletic and Social Club was officially constituted on     1st. September 1946 and held its first Annual General Meeting on the following    14th. October. Mr. T. R. Scott, the Company’s recently appointed Assistant Director of Research, was Chairman of the Management Committee and the Secretary was    Mr. P. J. Rogers.

The first “official” function reported was a Beetle Drive held in the Enfield Canteen on 14th. November 1946. One of the raffle winners was Mr. T. McCarthy. The event returned a profit of £6 9s 61/2 d. which allowed the Club’s Treasurer, Mrs. M. R. Good, to buy a cash book for 7s 6d. An Inaugural Social and Dance was held at the Raglan Road Schools in Enfield on 13th. December that year. This was attended by 120 people who participated in, amongst other things, a Spelling Bee and a Yes/No Game run by P. J. Rogers.

The Company, at this time, was reflecting that with the urge to greater production it seemed the right time to take a breath and to consider how to employ leisure periods to greater advantage. Given the recently adopted five day week how would young and old use the long weekend? It considered the main thing to build and maintain good health by appropriate activities, sports of all kinds or gardening, to better carry them through the week in office, factory or shop. The second thing was deemed mental fitness. Proper organisation of reading or use of musical or motion picture entertainment could do much to help retain a balance. Discussion groups, nature study groups and the like might make for keen and flexible minds. Outdoor hobbies such as sketching, bee keeping or horticulture would give maximum use of the open air. All would combine to create a fit and mentally balanced workforce!

Social Section activities gradually built up. In September 1947 a coach outing to Southend-on-Sea enjoyed the various attractions the town had to offer, the pier, the Kursaal and walking down the prom.

There was very little spare space on the Enfield site but the A&SC did manage to squeeze in a tennis court. T. R. Scott was later to relate that the money had been loaned, on the slenderest of security, by the New Southgate A&SC demonstrating the spirit of co-operation that existed between the respective site’s clubs.

The investment was soon to pay dividends as STL were to win the Pease Cup, the tennis interlocation trophy in 1948. This was no mean achievement for one of the smallest locations pitched against the full forces of the major sites.

Other sports sections began to take shape. Along with tennis the AGM of April 1949 also reported progress in cricket, darts, table tennis, bridge and photography. There was also a successful chess section with weekly instruction sessions held in the canteen under the guidance of Bert Russen.

The cricket section was able to establish a practice pitch on the Progress Way site but had to secure a pitch for matches at Whitewebbs Park, strategically placed for access to the “King and Tinker” for after match refreshments.

In general sports activities were played away from site. Undaunted a “non-playing Rugby Section” was formed, separate from but in friendly rivalry to the A&SC, whose main exercise was right arm bending in a selection of local hostelries.

(l to r) H. Coulcher, Miss M. G. Frisby, G. F. Hiles, Mrs. M. Good (Treasurer), W. J. Bull (Chairman), P. J. Rogers (Secretary), A. B. Cutting, Miss I. A. Lane, E. C. Mills

STL A&SC also added Horticulture and Badminton Sections, the latter having to report that “in spite of the loss of the use of the TA Hall members were temporarily carrying on in the canteen”.

1952 saw the start of the association of STC with Harlow New Town which was being built in the Essex countryside. Quartz crystal manufacture and later magnetic material and rectifier factories moved onto the Edinburgh Way industrial estate.

Naturally the formation of an Athletic and Social Club to cater for these was not long in following and the club was formally constituted at an inaugural meeting held on 12th. May 1953, the Chairman was Mr. E. S. Wright.

No time was wasted in getting the STC Cricket Section under way and the club was a founder member of the Harlow and District Cricket League, in its first season the section were joint winners of the league’s cup. Matches were played at The Stow.

Back Row (l to r) I.S.E.Williams, A.L.Hicks, R.E.L.Barrett, A.P.Greenham, J.Bicknell, J. HaggertyFront Row (l to r) G.A.Painter, F.E.Collard (Treasurer), F.H.Wood (Vice Chairman, Rectifier), F.T.Christmas (Chairman), N.E.Rosbrook (Vice Chairman, Crystals), L.M.Budd (Secretary), H.W.Neale

Social and Netball Sections soon followed. Coincidentally the Social Section’s first venture was a coach outing to Clacton-on-Sea in June. A Football Section was started with the new season and playing their matches at Ladyshot and using, for changing, a small hut supplied by Mr. N. E. Rosbrook. In early in 1954 a Table Tennis Section joined the ranks.

The first Interlocation Netball Tournament was held in August 1954. Harlow was placed third after Connaught House and Footscray, again a creditable showing for a newly formed section.

The Company’s activities in Harlow continued to build up, it being the time when the United Kingdom’s electronics industry was being successful and the demand for discrete components was increasing.

The consequent increase in the membership of the STC A&SC was reflected in the fact that, by February 1957, whilst Mr. F. T. Christmas was in the Chair, two Vice Chairmen, Mr. F. H. Wood for Rectifiers and Mr. N. E. Rosbrook for Crystals, were appointed. Mr. E. E. Bivand took over the Chair in April.

It had been evident for some time that the ad-hoc arrangements for grounds for many of the sections were unsatisfactory. The concept of Harlow New Town was one of “green wedges” extending the surrounding open countryside into the town centre. The Company took an interest in a large sports field, Maypole Corner on the Old London Road, within one of these areas at the edge of the town.

Mr. F. H. Wood officially opens the new tennis courts 1957

In June of 1959 the STC Harlow Tennis Section won the Interlocation Tennis Tournament rather emulating the success of the Enfield team 11 years before, sadly this time the Enfield team came sixth out of six.The first facilities to be established on the site were four new hard tennis courts, one of which was to double as a netball court. These were officially opened in early 1957. In June of that year the Cricket Section played the first match on the new sports ground which by then possessed two new cricket tables. In early July the newly formed “Harriers” Athletics Section put the ground to good use for practice and subsequently won the Ladies Championship Shield. The Football Section completed the “coming home” to the new ground at the beginning of their 1957/58 season. They went on to win the Interlocation Football Tournament in November 1958.

While all these developments had been taking place in Harlow the Enfield Laboratories had been carrying on their activities. The Social Section ran regular Christmas Parties for the children and Christmas Dinner Dances at various venues in the locality. The section activities remained largely the same although a Radio Section did come into existence early in 1954, soon acquiring a transmitting licence under the call sign G3JSL and operating from a “shack” in the east tower of the Progress Way building.

The Laboratories were now bursting at the seams and the long search for new accommodation finally settled for a new laboratory complex built adjacent to the company’s new sports ground at Maypole Corner, Harlow. The buildings were completed and the move took place in 1959.

Several sections of the two A&SCs were quick to combine their resources, the Cricket and Athletics Sections amalgamated for their 1960 season, the Football Sections for their 1960/61 season and the Tennis Sections for their 1961 season. However other sections maintained their independence and representatives of the STC (Harlow) and STL (Harlow) A&SCs quite often found themselves competing against each other both in local and Interlocation competitions. The A&SCs themselves maintained separate identities.

By April 1963 the Company’s staff numbered 28240 of which 2440 were in the Harlow factories and 470 at STL. With the continued increase in the need for telephone and electronic systems throughout the world the Company’s products were in great demand and the employee numbers, particularly in Harlow, continued to grow.

The number of sections in the clubs grew to include such stalwarts as snooker,  archery and bowls who shared the Old Harlow rinks until their own greens were laid in 1969.

At the same time STC (Harlow) achieved Interlocation successes in Ladies Table Tennis (1960), Badminton (!962), Mens Darts (1962), and, not to be outdone, Ladies Darts (1963).

With all this activity Pavilion facilities at Maypole Corner were becoming overstretched. The original “white hut” had had very limited accommodation and was to meet its end as a fire brigade practice target at a summer fete. This was replaced by a larger Canadian style wooden building in February 1964. The Bowling Section also had a small hut known affectionately as the “Chicken Shed”.

FRED II alias Frank Blundell

In 1967 the present Pavilion was built and was officially opened on the 4th. November by the then Managing Director, Mr. A. D. Mackay. Naturally this event was accompanied by a grand fireworks display. The final agreed cost of the Pavilion was £43341  4s. 3d. A lottery, FRED II, was instituted to pay for the building and its facilities. To promote shares, which cost 6d. each, Frank Blundell visited all the sites spectacularly dressed in black and white costume and tall hat.

The STC A&SC continued to put in strong performances in the various Interlocation tournaments that they entered. The Swimming Section in particular were successful in winning in 1968, 1969 and 1972.

The Social Sections continued what was to become a tradition of giving Christmas parties for the younger children and organising outings to a pantomime for the older ones. A summer Sports Day and Fete became established but his did not in any way match the size of those held at the major STC sites.

The Company’s fortunes continued to prosper, a new MD, Kenneth Corfield, arrived and orders for the new generation of telephone exchange were received from the Post Office. At the same time STL was expanding.

In 1971 the STL A&SC celebrated their silver anniversary by throwing a party attended by Sir Thomas Spencer who duly cut the commemorative cake.

(l to r) Lady Spencer, Sir Thomas Spencer, Arthur Brown

This year saw the STC (Harlow) Badminton Section win their Interlocation event for the third time, the Football Section also won theirs and the Angling Section came second in theirs – for the eighth time!

The popularity of the Pavilion and the commitment of the Company was again demonstrated by the building of a bungalow to accommodate a full time Pavilion Steward in the same year.

However the style and extent of public entertainment was changing. Leisure time activities were starting to be taken more with specialist groups or around the television in the home rather than in general social clubs. The A&SC’s established sections continued to prosper and a small number of new interests emerged. Archery (1963) and Jazz (1970) joined the STC list and STL added Beer and Wine Making (1973), Christian Fellowship (1974) and Keep Fit (1974).

P.J. Rogers

STL A&SC saw the retirement of P. J. Rogers after 29 years association, firstly as the founder Secretary and later as Deputy Chairman. Much of the initial enthusiasm for the A&SC had been engendered by P. J. Rogers and his contributions to the social programme became legendary, his display of “hidden talents as a ballet dancer” at one Social Section Dance was long remembered.1975 was probably the zenith of both the Company and the A&SC’s fortunes. Employee numbers had risen to a maximum of well over 40000 of which a sizeable proportion were in Harlow. The Company had become the largest supplier of quality reed relays in the UK. However the Post Office were about to review suppliers and cut back on orders with the inevitable impact all round.

The following year, 1976, was to see the death of Sir Thomas Spencer. He had joined the company in 1907 and become Managing Director in 1933. Throughout he maintained a very close interest and support of A&SC activities in the Company. Many have said that it was largely due to Sir Thomas that the Company culture was so socially and family oriented.

A bowling green had been laid on the Maypole Corner sports field in 1969 and over the years had been developed into a superb facility under the auspices of Arthur Brown who Chaired the STL A&SC from 1960. It became the favoured venue for county matches and in 1977 hosted its fourth such event, a great tribute to the quality of the facilities available in the A&SC.

Times were about to change. In 1979 ITT sold 15% of its holding in STC and it was evident that they were intent on disconnection from the UK operation. Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister, the two events were not believed to have been connected!, but the subsequent effects on the company were the usual ones of “downsizing” of staff and further changes in the way individuals used their leisure time.

Ted and Hilda Mills

There were no bounds to the Club’s activities. In 1979 when the STL A&SC were preparing for their annual retired colleagues dinner the organising committee found out that Ted Mills and Hilda Davidson were without partners. They were persuaded to partner each other for the evening and in February 1980 they were married.

Sports continued to prosper. The A&SCs completed a new Bowls Pavilion replacing the wooden facility, which had by now become affectionately known as the “Chicken Shed”, in April 1982. Later, in that November, an impressive new Squash Courts complex was officially opened by Mr. K. Walton.

The STC A&SC was now a force to be reckoned with taking the badminton team title for the fifth time, the table tennis title for the third time and the squash title, all in 1983. That year’s children’s sports day and fete was notable for an invitation being sent to any (qualified) employees literally to drop in by parachute. Apart from the home team of Tina and Ian Jackson and their colleagues it is not recorded as to whether there were any other acceptances.

The year ended on a hot note with a fire in the Pavilion. Due to the very smart action of two squash players who smelled smoke when arriving for a game the emergency services were quickly alerted. A major disaster was averted and the damage was limited to the bar area. The next stage of the story was said to have been almost as dramatic as, within only 24 hours and due to the efforts of Willie Bilsland and his team, the Pavilion and bar were again fully operational allowing the Christmas festivities to go ahead as if nothing had happened.

Joan and Jack Martin

The same month saw the retirement of Joan and Jack Martin from the Club. Jack had been with the A&SC for a total of 17 years initially as Secretary and later as Manager. Both he and Joan were to retain their association with the club through the Bowls Section.

1984 saw the Horticultural Section’s gardening shop still going strong after 30 years and being managed by one of the original members, Peggy Liebrecht. The original Chairman, Frank Phillips, said at the time that lack of proper maintenance had taken its toll of their original shed-cum-greenhouse and one day when he was tending plants a storm and a sudden gust shook the building. They decided that a more up to date building was needed resulting in the wide range of facilities they were then able to offer.

The STL A&SC were now consolidating their charity activities. They ran an All Charities Bazaar, a function which came to be a popular addition to the season’s festivities.

The Company scene was changing fast. They had purchased ICL in September 1984 and the results had not been as expected. Sir Kenneth Corfield retired in August 1985 and the new management immediately implemented a major cost cutting programme. One of the casualties of this was the Company support of interlocation events. Nevertheless sections continued to run many of the traditional tournaments funding them from their own resources.

The resulting programme of early retirements prompted the setting up of the Pavilion club for ex-colleagues and meeting twice per week to cater for both STL and STC retirees. The Pavilion Club was to become very active in running events to benefit charities such as the Arthritis and Rheumatism Council, Leukaemia Research at St. Bartholomews Hospital, local hospices and scanner appeals and the Tye Green School for children with learning difficulties.

In January 1986 Arthur Brown relinquished his chairmanships in the Club. From the mid-fifties when he first became the Deputy Chairman of the STL A&SC he had taken a leading role, eventually chairing all three A&SC’s. He had been instrumental in building up the Club’s facilities, participated actively in both sports and social areas and his contribution to the Club in general over the years was probably without parallel.


(l to r) Leukaemia Fund Representative, Martin Coleman, Willie Bilsland, Vi Maile, Alex Felstead,
Scanner Appeal Representative, Arthritis Research Council Representative

On 25th. November 1986 a Company reorganisation absorbed the Harlow Laboratories into STC Technology Limited and the name STL disappeared after almost exactly 41 years.

Spirits were not daunted however. The usual participation went on in the interlocation programme and a successful sports day and fete was held in 1987. During the traditional parachute drop onto the fete, Concorde by chance flew overhead – nothing was too good for this event. As a contrast in technologies the Capital Radio Roadshow also attended the fete but got bogged down in the mud and had to be rescued by a tractor.

In August a major refit of the Pavilion took place costing £100,000 was undertaken, rearranging accommodation and creating a night club environment to attract well known celebrity entertainers. This was not a good omen as in the following January a gunman proceeded to rob the Club of £7000. The barman was bound and gagged whilst the stocking masked intruder helped himself to the holiday period takings. Club groundsman, Bert Davis, unsuspectingly found himself caught up in the police search, tracker dogs picked up a trail leading to the Bowls Pavilion only to find Bert at work.

At the beginning of 1989 the Club found that the refurbishment of the Pavilion and the building of the squash courts had, if anything, overstretched its resources. The Company’s changing circumstances did not allow it to support this situation. A major

reorganisation of the club’s constitution and operating procedures was necessary and this was largely carried out under the auspices of Alan Adkin.

The resulting changes in the committee structure established two committees, an Executive Committee whose members were Alan Freeman (Chairman), Malcolm Napier (General Manager), Jeff Harris (Treasurer), Janet Goodchild (Secretary) plus four members from the Management Committee and a Management Committee elected by the Club members.


Malcolm Napier

Jeff Harris

The actions of the Executive Committee , whose task is to establish the strategy for ensuring the continued success of the Club in the changed financial circumstances, and the Management Committee, who look after the tactics in meeting the day to day requirements of members, have enabled the Company to feel confident in the support which they continue to give.

On the Company front things were again changing. ITT was bowing out after over 60 years ownership having purchased Western Electric’s UK operations in 1925 and created Standard Telephones and Cables Limited. At the same time Northern Telecom of Canada purchased a 24% holding in STC plc, starting the association which was to lead to the merger of STC into Northern Telecom in April 1991.

More changes were soon to follow. The Edinburgh Way sites changed hand to Farnell Electronics Limited. C-MAC Quartz Crystals Limited and BLP but all these companies maintained their association with the Club. As the London Road site became part of BNR, the research arm of Northern Telecom, the Club in turn changed its name to the BNR (Harlow) A&SC. Another repositioning of Northern Telecom in the market resulted in them becoming Nortel in April 1995 and the Club becoming the Nortel (Harlow) Sports and Social Club in April 1996, the title which it bears today.

Since the coming of Nortel the S&SC has continued to provide a focus for the traditional section activities. Interlocation successes have been achieved notably in squash, winning the tournament in 1988 for the fifth year in a row, in sea angling, Harlow won in 1987 after having last won in 1970, in cricket (1988), in football (1989) and badminton (1990).

(l to r) Peggy O’Neill, Wyn Spellane, Sheila Crowley and Vi Maile

Charity activities were very successful. A team of stalwart knitters took part in the 1990 ITV Telethon and in a rather more energetic environment successful Charity Challenges were run from 1991 to 1994 where teams from the Club and local firms pitted themselves against an assault course and a mind bending quiz.

Social activities continue, as well as the tried and tested Christmas events for children and the annual ex-colleagues reunions the Pavilion provides a varied programme of entertainment to suit all tastes and ages.

Since 1994 the Pavilion has been home to a superbly appointed Fitness Centre to cater for all members and associated members. A permanent staff of advisers are able to set personal programmes tailored to members needs. The centre is proving a major attraction.

The 1st. September 1996 will mark the Golden Jubilee of the Club whose life began in Progress Way, Enfield. Here’s to the next fifty years!