On a sunny day in August 30 members and their friends, wives and partners visited Renishaw New Mills, near Wotton-under- Edge. This turned out to be an idyllic working place which has been established on the site of a mill. It has large open spaces, a mill pond and a peacock and peahens. The new buildings have been built in a sympathetic style to the original mill and provide a pleasant working environment.
Renishaw was founded in 1973 by David McMurty and John Deer. In 1972 whilst seeking solutions to the need for accurate pipe measurement, David McMurty invented the touch trigger probe, a 3 dimensional sensor capable of accurate measurement of machine parts. Now Sir David McMurty is Chairman and Chief Executive of a £0.5bn company that exports a range of precision probes and accessories for C-ordinate Measuring Machines, and other high tech products such as dental CAD-Cam and Raman Spectroscopes, to the world's industrialised nations.
Our guide, Mr Phil Williams, took our party to one of the lecture rooms where we enjoyed a talk about the company and its products. Recent figures show a turnover of £180.9M with a profit of £40.0M, 92% of the output went to export. The company has 2,154 employees, 1,620 of whom are located in the UK and Ireland. It has 51 locations in 31 countries and 61 distributors in 45 countries.
Our party was then split into three groups and we were shown around the centre where they develop new products and demonstrate their products to potential customers. These include measuring systems and a range of automatic machine tools. One of the latest products is a machine to enable dental technicians to fabricate crowns and bridges for dental repairs.
A thoroughly interesting and entertaining morning was had by all.
A World War II Boyhood In Northern Europe
Talk by Marcus Palmén Wednesday 12th September 2007
By definition, most members of our club have experienced interesting lives, I venture to say however that the early life Marcus Palmén spoke about in this talk, must rank highly in interest factor that our Club has to offer. His talk took us the audience, from his birth in Viborg through to his early life and his return to England after the war. ( Viborg is the Swedish name used on most older maps, Viipuri is the Finnish and Vyborg the Russian name now in use)
Perhaps the main thrust of the talk Marcus gave us was the human effect on our changing world and how deeply conquest, and inhumanity to Man affects the private lives of everyone. Children we sometimes used to forget have an extra sensitivity and behave very much as adults in the face of adversity. Running through the talk was a rich vein of personal experiences, and of things perhaps beyond our immediate awareness and the message that countries are only countries by virtue of the nature of the people who live within them.
Marcus's father was a Lutheran Priest who, Marcus told us, had a wonderful skill in oratory. His fathers gift was in preaching specifically to men. This led him to a life as a seamen's Pastor running a Finnish Church with his family in a foreign town and country namely - Kingston upon Hull, in England from 1934 onwards. Amongst visitors to the family home in 1938 was Field Marshal Mannerheim who later in 1942 became Marshall of Finland and 1n 1944 the 6th President of the republic and who himself had a fascinating life history.
Marcus and his mother returned to England from a Finnish holiday in August 1939 just before war broke out on the 3rd of September. Following a period of relative calm. In the spring of 1940 Air Raids were causing Marcus's father and mother real concern and Marcus was evacuated to Clun. This proved to he a happy interlude in his life, then in 1941 his mother arrived and took him to London. Finland had became involved in the Continuation war with Russia. In 1941 also, the Finnish Church in Hull was destroyed and his father was posted to become part of the Finnish legation in London. When war was declared between England and Finland the English Legation in Helsinki was exchanged for the Finnish Legation in London. The exchange took place in Lisbon.
The trip to Finland in the war was an adventure in itself. His Mother and he, travelled from Pool via BOAC Boeing 314 flying boat which took three attempts to become airborne out of Pool harbour to Lisbon, landing on the Tagus. Marcus speaks of the strangeness at Lisbon of seeing German and Allied aircraft parked together on the airfield when travelling on to Madrid in a Junkers 52. The flight from Madrid to Berlin via Barcelona and Marseille was accomplished in a Focke-Wulf Condor, the same type as an aircraft used by Herr Hitler himself. Arriving at Berlin Marcus told us it had a strange green look which resulted from the camouflage precautions being taken in the city.
After Berlin, while his parents continued to Finland, Marcus told us of being left as an evacuee in Graninge in mid Sweden and of being taken in by a very strict family and told he wasn't really welcome and should be grateful that they were allowing him to stay. For any person, especially a child of nine, this must have been hard to come to terms with. There was also a little girl, older than he, who taught him what he now knows about field and forest craft. This little girl to Marcus was strange person, appearing to be ethereal almost transparent to him at times. In this household children were kept very much separate from the family. Marcus being of an enquiring nature used to creep out onto an internal balcony and listen to Parish meetings. This was his only source of information and it enabled him to get to know in part what was going on in the world.
Marcus finally became so concerned about his situation that he wrote to his father asking to be taken away. His father was immediately responsive and in 1942 he moved via Stockholm, where he was surprised to be met by a Diakonness (the protestant equivalent of a nun), and then travelling on to Helsinki in a Junkers J52 where he arrived during the course of an air raid.
February 1944 saw Marcus and his family living in a flat in an 8 storey building in Helsinki. In the largest air raid by Russian bombers the building was hit by a high explosive bomb destroying the top two floors. When Marcus and his one month old brother in a pram went across the park to shelter in another building the large wood stacks stored in the park (central heating supplies for the surrounding buildings) received direct hits. He his mother and the pram experienced a miraculous escape and emerged unscathed from a hail of wood slithers and chippings. The effects of the intended saturation raid on Helsinki had been mitigated by a decoy area having being set up outside the city.
He now went to stay with a family in Southern Sweden who soon became the best of friends . His Mother and brother were accommodated in a nearby town. With these new friends Marcus told us he was really looked after, these were really happy days and this must have been such a haven for him with his world having been so disturbed up to that point. It became a second home to him.
Marcus with all his life experiences was becoming more adult now. One day whilst out in a mackerel boat they came quite close to a German U Boat. Marcus wondered how he could get this information to the allies as all such communication was totally censored. He hit on the idea of entering a drawing in a drawing competition for children. Months later with the Continuation war over he received a cheque for his sketch which had been published. Marcus still has this cheque as a memento of his first earnings.
Marcus reminded us that Finland experienced three wars, whilst we in England had only to experience one. First they had the Winter War 1939/40 against Russia then there was the Continuation War against Russia, and finally the Lapland war against Germany - this latter was an attacking war when the Finnish army suffered its greatest losses. The Winter War started on 30th November 1939 with a Russian attack which was initially repulsed however the final outcome saw the entire Karelian isthmus with the city of Viborg seeded to the Russians. Marcus told us that following this, Finland helped the displaced people from urban areas by introducing the rule that any homes with more rooms than occupiers had to be let to displaced refugees. Farming families were allocated replacement land by the introduction of a maximum size of farm for the country.
Amongst the interesting war facts and figures Marcus told us about was the fact that Finland became the largest exporter of bananas in the entire world after the war. Russians love their Bananas, and world sources due to the cold war refused to export to them. They did however allow exports to Finland Business being business, Finland became the largest banana exporter in the world.
1952 saw Marcus living permanently in England after finishing his schooling and military service.
This talk was followed by a most interesting question time (see adjacent) and the talk concluded with a very appreciative vote of thanks by our Treasurer Mr. Don Vickers.