Robert Eric Swift
Born in Halifax, West Riding of Yorkshire on August 4th, 1904 at 5 York Terrace, Akroydon.
(Akroydon was a 'model' town. Not that I ever appreciated the concept as a 2-8 year old visiting the place (cold, wet, aunties telling one what to do)). But I now - as a much wiser - and older - guy -think Akroyd was a genius in his context. I suspect there are some excellent town planners around today, but, even so, one has to say Akroyd had a vision and a community that he built. Ground up. There is a challenge for us all.
Robert died on 20th February 1995 in Hinchley Wood, Surrey
So, what went on between these dates? Good question! ....
1904, 4 August : born
Halifax is strictly a Wesleyan religious area (Methodists)
and, at the age of 12, he signs a pledge
not to drink alcohol:
Educated at Halifax Secondary School (West Yorkshire)
(Halifax) Municipal Technical College
1919 - October 1923: Halifax Municipal Technical College
BSc Engineering (London)
1923-27: Assistant Engineer,
Research Branch, General Post Office
engaged on transmission problems and the measurement of sound.
1926, 3 June, aged 21, attends the wedding
of his brother Harold Edgar
1927-1930: Post Office Tests and Inspection Branch,
invloved in the design and inspection of Anglo-Irish submarine cable.
1930: living in Wembley, London
at 65 Barnhill Road (the house no longer exists)
1930, 12 June, aged 25 marries
Mabel Catherine Days (aged 24, a secretary)
in St Andrews church, Kingsbury, Middlesex, London
(he keeps this marriage secret from my sister and I)
1930: living at 65 Barnhill Road, Wembley, Middlesex, UK
1930-1936: Research Branch, Assistant Engineer
(GPO Dollis Hill)
engaged on transmission problems, development of test equipment
and deaf aid amplifiers.
1931, 11 September
his father, Louis dies in Epsom, Surrey
Robert was 27; his father 62.
July 1933: he submits for a Patent on
'Apparatus for Testing Telephones'
1933/34: lives in Wembley, 44 Oxenpark Avenue
(the house no longer exists)
May 1936: Sectional Engineer, Tunbridge Wells
July 1936 - December 1937: Sectional Engineer, Canterbury
responsible for all GPO engineering work in Kent
including 500 staff.
1937-1940 Executive Engineer, Head of Circuits Laboratory,
(link: Dollis Hill GPO Research Station)
main work assessment of new designs in equipment and circuits;
responsible for some special projects associated with early warning radar stations and defence of London.
Staff about 100.
(Historical setting: in the 1930s Great Britain wanted to develop a counter measure to the potential threat of German airplane bombers
was, what would become known later as, the radar. They faced numerous challenges.
Getting one 'radar' station working was difficult enough, but building an array, starting at 2 and then 5 and then dozens
required a new level of real-time communications between the electrical data they were handling.
In 1937 this challenge was passed the the General Post Office (GPO) research team at Dollis Hill to solve.
As far as I know theirs was one of many critical roles in the radar project and Robert was a leading member of the team.)
1938: living at 55 St Augustine's Road, Canterbury, UK
1939: living at 2 Vicarage Way, Harrow, London, UK
(1939-1945: World War II)
1940-1947 Assistant Director
Aircraft Equipment Production Branch
Ministry of Aircraft Production
(later Ministry of Supply)
responsible for planning and progressing production of airborne and ground equipments.
Some design and production work for USAAF.
1942 Deputy Director
(Aircraft Equipment Production)
1945; 16 January:
his mother, Alice, dies in Halifax, Yorkshire.
he is 40, she is 69
August 1945 he travels on official business to Berlin.
Member of the UK Task Force examining industrial personnel.
1946 Director of Radio and Instrument Production
??: living at 28 Mahlon Avenue, South Ruislip, London, UK
1946: living at 108 Preston Road, Middlesex, London, UK
1947: Medal of Freedom (USA)
(The Presidential Medal of Freedom was
established by President Truman in 1945 to
recognize civilians for their efforts during World War II.
1947: living at Montrose Court Hotel, Clapham, London, SW4, UK
Radio Production Branch
Ministry of Supply
1948: Director of Aircraft Radio Production
Ministry of Supply and visits the
Convair Plant of General Motors (US)
to view the B-36.
November 1950 - 1964: Director of
Aeronautical Inspection Directorate,
Ministry of Aviation
Leatherhead Road, Chessington, Surrey
- inspection of aircraft, engines and guided missiles.
1952: he is living in Esher at 58 The Woodlands
1952, 18 October he marries
Hjordis Elsa Lagerberg
(a Swedish girl)
he was 48; she 26.
1954, 14 April, their first child is born
Annika Margaret Swift
(the same year as Alec Guinness, the actor)
1958, 14 May, their second is born
Hans Eric Swift (me)
February 1959 promoted to Director General
May 1964: he becomes a Fellow of
The Royal Aeronautical Society
4 Hamilton Place, Piccadilly, London
(his sponsor was:
Arthur WOODWARD-NUTT (1902-80)
WOODWARD-NUTT was the 7th member of the secret
in September 1940 which, amongst other things took Britain's
new invention - the cavity magnetron - to show to the then
neutral Americans. This device would give the UK a great
technical advance in radar capability. The team was led by Henry Tizard
and included Dr Edward George 'Taffy' Bowen- see above historical
note regarding Dollis Hill and radar)
August 1964 left Inspection Branch to become
Personnel Manager, Ministry of Supply
1966: Robert joins the Institute of Electrical Engineers
August 1969 he retires, aged 65.
In about 1984 his health
starts to suffer mildly.
1995, 20 February he dies
and, later, his ashes were scattered over a hill
overlooking Halifax, Yorkshire
I don't think he would mind me saying that he came from a respectable, but financially challenged, family. But not poor. His grandfather owned (I think, but could have rented) a tailors shop in the mill town of Halifax. Part of my evidence for this is the following letter head.
And Robert's father (Samuel's son), Louis Edgar Swift, continued the trade:
Unexplained photographs (can you help?) (is the plane the B-36?):
HS 21 Sept 2014