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Frank Ledger interviewed by Steven Guilbert and Thomas Lean (SECTION 2 - tracks 7-14)

Ledger, Frank (speaker, male; interviewee)
2012-05-28, 2012-06-28, 2012-11-27, 2012-01-08, 2013-02-19, 2013-03-05

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  • Title:
    Frank Ledger interviewed by Steven Guilbert and Thomas Lean (SECTION 2 - tracks 7-14)
  • Contributor: Ledger, Frank; Guilbert, Steven; Lean, Thomas
  • Other Titles:
    Collection title: An Oral History of the Electricity Supply Industry in the UK

  • Rights: The British Library
  • Description:
    Track 7 [1:04:09] Comments on 1971 miners' strike: overtime ban then strike by National Unions of Miners [NUM]; Edward Heath government's slow understanding of vulnerability; siege of power stations and other facilities by NUM; lack of preparation by ESI; rota disconnection plan worked out with Department of Energy and Electricity Council under emergency powers overriding the Electricity Act; description of rota disconnections, and their development from ad-hoc Area Board physical disconnections to formal technique; [05:45] need to conserve coal stocks; need for lighting up oil in coal fired power stations. [07:20] Remarks on operation of power stations by order of coal supplies: risks of strategy to keep power levels as high as possible for as long as possible to allow time for negotiations; FL proposing idea to board; apolitical nature of work in ESI. [09:13] Anecdote about rota disconnections: FL visit to National Control on morning disconnections started; higher frequency than expected at time rota disconnections were supposed to start; FL waiting with BBC's Dennis Frost to do an interview; impatient response from Arthur Hawkins. [10:45] Remarks on: board reactions to FL endurance proposal and criticism of strategy for risks of sudden collapse; Government capitulation to miners' demands, with reference to Douglas Hurd book; closeness to disaster; vulnerability of power system to miners and the essential nature of electricity; post strike contingency planning for strike in various utility and transport industries; constant threats to ESI over 1970s and 1980s. [14:50] Remarks on FL feelings about 1970s strikes: political and union issues; feelings of sympathy to miners, but concerns over their misuse of power; anecdote about discussing strike with NUM leader Sid Vincent on a visit to Brussels during a Manchester Business School course, difference in outlook between FL and Vincent, power and responsibility of unions; FL feelings of responsibility to keep the lights on to serve the public; anecdote about FL naming of his book 'Crisis Management in the Power Industry'; use of phrase 'keeping the lights on' during crisis. [19:27] Remarks on: picketing of power stations by miners aided by ESI Yearbook; anecdote about Midlands Director of Generation Gil Blackman's imaginative strategies to supply Nottingham power station; police indifferent reactions to picketing. [22:00] Remarks on daily work over 1971 miners strike: reordering order of merit of power stations by coal supply; central information centre; reactions on indignant reactions from ESI workers in the regions. [24:00]


    Track 7 [cont' from 24:00] Remarks on:overview of 1971 miner's strike; meeting at department of energy in Thames House with Trevor Broom and deputy secretary Philip Jones to organise Three Day Weekduring 1973 strike; FL feelings at end of 1971 strike, Arthur Hawkins wanting immediate return to normal operations; contingency planning after 1971 strike, cost implications of maintaining high coal stocks, storage of essential commodity supplies. [28:35] Remarks on senior executive course in Manchester: FL missing chance to go more prestigious Henley course; subjects on course, visit to Brussels' bureaucrats. [30:26] Remarks on private enterprise and public sector course at The Node conference centre in Hitchin with public and private sector leaders: course mates including Barings Bank chief executive, senior civil servant Sir John Chillcott, Uniliver Director, coal board regional officer, future International Energy Authority head; networking and reunions. [34:08] Comments on 1970s: constant crises of 1970s strikes in transport and other support industries; role of Systems Operations group during contingency crisis planning endurance of system; level of detail of planning. [37:00] Comments on 1973-74 miners crisis: Middle East war and 1973 oil crisis, Government energy committees; miners' work to rule; EPEA [Electrical Power Engineers Association] trade union starting overtime ban in ESI; lowering of coal stocks due to oil shortages, NUM work to rule and railway transport strikes; application of emergency powers, planning with Department of Energy for three day week and restrictions; monitoring of coal supply and realisation that industry was working harder over three day week. [41:25] Anecdote about meeting at Department of Energy with BBC and ITV over early evening shut-downs of television. [42:50] Remarks on: helping minister Tom Boardman and Arthur Hawkins with reply to question over three-day week; FL feelings about three-day week; anecdote about contacting City of London police over office lights remaining on in spite of energy conservation measures; NUM ballot for strike and Heath calling early elections; effects of NUM victory over government on thinking of NUM and Arthur Scargill; Arthur Scargill's role in 1970s strikes. [46:30] Remarks on: feelings about growing crisis in 1973, FL developing techniques to help him sleep through stress; 7-7 working days over strike; gaining information from the news; insights on problems from other industries; good working atmosphere within CEGB, reliability of teamwork, feeling of public service; public relations during strikes; Trevor Broom's involvement with helping answer parliamentary questions; [53:10] FL feelings about portrayal of CEGB and crisis in media; FL use of information from regions to review order of merit over 73-74 crisis; anecdote about Director of South Western region Glyn England telephoning a problem to him, lack of fine control over rota disconnections. [56:14] Remarks on 1970s crisis: feelings about unfair treatment of ESI by strikes during crisis; issues implementing rota disconnections by control engineers; power flows across systems during crisis; anecdote about bomb scare at National Control after IRA car bombs; anecdote about Arthur Hawkins concerns over invasion of National Control by picketers; anecdote about FL visiting National Control with CEGB Chairman Stanley Brown and minister Sir John Eden during the crisis; [1:02:03] performance of FL team during strikes, importance of teamwork.


    Track 8 [1:19:08][Interview Four: 8 January 2013] Comments on daily work as group manager: office in Nottingham Grid control centre; visiting power stations and Peterborough Ash disposal site; role of group manager to assist but not interfere; regional headquarters meetings in Birmingham; anecdote about making notes on dictation machine in Rover 2000 official car. [02:55] Remarks on industrial relations: anecdote about apprentices involving MP Tom Boardman in anticipation of the closure of Leicester power station; enthusiastic 1970 work to rule and overtime ban causing power cuts; generally good industrial relations; good industrial relations in East Midlands, origins in coal industry previous history. [06:45] Further remarks on 1970 work to rule: anecdote about Radcliffe power stations missing coal moving equipment keys; exhaustion of contingency plans leading to potential system collapse; anecdote about telephoning trade union officer Jack Tetley to alleviate overtime situation to avert crisis; trade union leader Frank Chapel stopping dispute; description of a system collapse; favourable response of Jack Tetley to helping avert collapse; FL duties during crisis, maintaining close contact with people dealing with emergency; [12:00] FL feelings about work to rule demands, decent wage rates, links between different trade unions; good labour relations machinery; anecdote about Frank Chapel; FL membership of Electrical Power Engineers Association [EPEA], resigning membership when he later negotiated against. [15:10] Comments on group manager role: line manager, Midlands Director of Generation, Gil Blackman; description of voltage reduction steps, allowing 40% reduction; closeness to systems collapse in 1970; FL feelings of dissatisfaction over 1970 work to rule; interest of trade unions in well-being of industry; enjoyments of being a group manager; indicators of a well run power station; technical problems, thermal efficiency, and plant availability; working with station a managers to work out budgets, overspending on plant improvements; work targets agreed at regional level. [22:05] Description of regional management structure. Story about how FL took promotion to system operation engineer in London, family concerns over father's health, death of father. [25:20] Remarks on: reasons why FL took system operation engineer role; benefits of broad career base in later career. [26:55] Comments on role of systems operations in CEGB: outline of power network and its organisation, need to overlook entire system; need to maintain system stabilise, use of computers to simulate energy flows; operational planning and control of the system; network of area and National Control centres. [29:40] Remarks on: CEGB's Paternoster headquarters and National Control on South Bank, near CEGB South East regional headquarters; FL spending most time in office at Paternoster with visits to National Control; FL living in South Kensington flat and visiting family at weekends; anecdote about regularly visiting National Control on way into office, walking past pickets outside Bankside power station at time of 1971 Miner's strike. [32:05] Description of National Control and its control room, systems and operation. [36:00]


    Track 8 [cont' from 36:00] Remarks on: importance of maintaining national frequency; estimating of consumer demand and planning, factors of weather forecast and television pickup; daily Picasso diagram of national network power transfers; [39:27] national communication General Indicating [GI] system; demand estimators; staff numbers. [40:27] Comments on: communications between National Control and Area Controls, telex systems; weather updates from Met Office; routine operations; use of IBM mainframe computers in supporting running and planning of transmission system, in house software development. [45:10] Comments on Systems Operations staff duties at CEGB headquarters: planning for routine system maintenance; importance of simulations in planning for outages, with example of nuclear power station maintenance; group working on system control development; future planning group, operational time-scales for planning groups; differences between systems operations and running a power station; FL feelings about new role, working at home, stress leading him to take up art classes at City Literary Institute; [50:45] learning about systems operations and working closely with staff. [51:20] Comments on stresses of work in 1970s: background conditions miner's strikes, increasing consumer demand and the George Brown plan for expansion, Oil Crisis, new but unreliable large power stations; anecdote about CEGB Chairman Arthur Hawkins attitudes against voltage reductions; anecdote about FL deciding on voltage reductions on telephone from his office in consultation with Dennis Tompkinson in system control; meeting daily peek demand as night fell; need to maintain frequency levels for industry. [56:45] Description of CEGB Chairman Arthur Hawkins and his good relations with FL. [58:50] Story about working with Arthur Hawkins during the 1971-72 miners strikes: FL's close monitoring of picketing situation across the regions; advice of Director of operations Trevor Broom to send note direct to CEGB Chairman rather than through hierarchy, by-passing Arthur Hawkins as board member for operations; Hawkins assigning him morning duty to monitor situation across regions at critical moment. [1:01:25] Anecdote about working with Hawkins on New Years Eve 1973-74 to help Minister Tom Boardman respond to criticism from Tony Benn over three day working week. [1:02:55] Comments on: effects of closure of CEGB older power stations and plant unreliability in 1970s on wider system. [1:04:38] Description of CEGB headquarters in ugly tower blocks around Paternoster square: anecdote about good views from FL offices; various departments located in headquarters, operations, planning, accounts, personnel, nuclear health and safety; interaction between departments. [1:08:20] Description of daily work day: early start to office; pattern of meetings; visiting National Control on way to office when he lived in South Kensington, in afternoon when he lived in Harpenden; one to one discussions with senior engineers below him. [1:10:50] Comments on voltage reductions: need for personal judgement in deciding on voltage reductions; thermostats compensating for voltage reductions; effects of reductions on industrial machines. [1:13:15] Remarks on: daily working hours; evening activities at home, gardening, DIY; CEGB social life, Christmas parties, friend social life; secretaries' duties, records and communication leading to considerable paperwork; bureaucracy; closest colleagues, superior Trevor Broom, subordinates Dennis Tompkinson and Bill Kerse, Ed Wallis; value of FL power station experience to his systems operations role; description of Trevor Broom and his enjoyment of solving problems; description of Dennis Tompkinson, friendship with FL, career in North East.


    Track 9 [58:08] Remarks on CEGB Midlands Region: CEGB buildings in Sollihull; regional level purchasing organisation and fuel supply officers; social club and social life; mobility of regional staff around region. [02:50] Remarks on competitiveness with other CEGB regions: high performance of Midland power stations; 10 Terawatt Hour Club for yearly high performance; cost per unit comparisons, maintenance cost considerations. [05:45] Remarks on daily work: more relaxed than working in London; regional Director General 's management style at monthly meetings; good management team, with Directors Hugh Matthews and Ray Garnet; Friday lunchtime meetings with external guests. [08:20] Remarks on: work study, used in pay and productivity schemes and yearly planning for power station maintenance; Maurice Gainsley's work study service; regional computing facilities, ICL or Burroughs computers; research and development facility at Radcliffe; benefits of computing at Regional Level; lack of national computing strategy leading regions to develop own systems. [13:05] Description of background to FL role as CEGB head of computing: CEGB IBM based computing centre; extensive use of computer simulation studies and technical programs in CEGB future planning and power station design; head of CEGB computing policy restricted by regional computing initiatives; creation of CGEB overall computing head; difficulty of post for FL. [15:10] Remarks on FL work as head of computing: FL talent spotting John Williams at Seven and Trent Water Authority, and appointing him as head of CEGB computing policy; linking of CEGB regions by computer type; support of CEGB deputy Chairman Fred Bonner; computing centre manager Tony Woolistone deciding to purchase cheaper Amdal, IBM compatible computers; security of staying with IBM systems; anecdote about dealing with IBM sales representatives; FL observations on an IBM tour of North American facilities with Area Electricity Board people, such as Bryan Townsend; [20:35] FL attending computer guru James Martin's seminars in Amsterdam; FL decision to take post as Director of computing, simplifying his living and Tax arrangements, Arthur Hawkins suggesting FL would return to London, Jim Porteous support for FL becoming head of computing; FL appointment by Glyn England to become Director of operations after Trevor Broom was made head of CEGB research and development. [26:00]


    Track 9 [cont' from 26:00] Description of remit of CEGB Director of operations and subordinates: central control under command of John Bird, then Ed Wallis; fuel supply officer, later John Wooley, responsible for oil purchasing and negotiations with National Coal Board; Granville Camsey's role as operations services engineer, responsible for national spares stockpile and national purchasing contracts of consumables; Alan Mackintosh manager of nuclear fuel cycle services; uranium purchasing officer for nuclear facilities; [31:00] ash marketing officer, storage of power station ash or sale for use in building materials; duties of group as central operational support for regions and National Control and coordination of power supply through System Control; Director of Operations responsibility to CEGB Board Member for Operations Gil Blackman. [33:45] Remarks comparing CEGB chairs Arthur Hawkins and Glyn England's management style. [35:00] Remarks on: Gil Blackman's management style through Production Directorate meetings of regional Director-Generals and Director of Operations; anecdote about Paternoster offices always having good views from windows; description of Paternoster interior and FL office. [39:40] Remarks on background to period that FL became Director of Operations: election of Margaret Thatcher government, Coal Industries Act requiring National Coal Board to break even by 1985; Energy minister Howell; mine closure programme, leading to strikes; Margaret Thatcher wanting to avoid defeat; Ministry of Energy meeting with Deputy Secretary Ivor Manley, Gil Blackman and coal board's Malcolm Edwards, over how industry could respond to future threats. [42:02] Comments on CEGB 1981 report on response to future coal strike: work started by previous Director of operations Trevor Broom and operation services engineer Brian Bates; system's operation engineer John Bird's studies on endurance of system; anecdote about FL writing report in garden; teamwork nature of report research; report becoming plan for future coal strike; expectations of maximum coal stocks; plans for strike of several months; Gil Blackman's experiences in 1970s strikes convincing him of need to stockpile power station essential commodities, program coordinated by Granville Camsey's operations services branch. [45:40] Further remarks on planning for miner's strike: rational for planning for 5 or 6 month strike; FL belief that future strike was inevitable; Ed Wallis joining group as System Operations Engineer; effects of 1970s miners strikes on FL; preparation for oil purchasing by John Wooley and David Bridger; anecdote about FL visiting oil companies to discuss future supplies, offer from help from Shell; , scheme to store supertankers of oil off Norway; coal board over production allowing CEGB to build up coal stocks, concerns over cost for consumer leading to differed payment scheme. [50:45] Remarks on use of oil by CEGB: CEGB early plans to have more oil power stations, before 1970s oil price rises; oil price rises leading to oil stations being used as a reserve. [52:15] Remarks on: origin of ideas for strike planning, Gil Blackman's ideas about stockpiling essential power station commodities; regional estimates of coal stock piles, oil burn estimated by simulations; arrangement for maintenance cycles of nuclear power; lengthy preparations for future strike; close observation of miners political situation, 1970s NUM leader Joe Gormley viewed as less radical than his successor Arthur Scargill; 1983 NUM overtime ban acting as precursor to full strike.


    Track 10 [1:00:36] [Interview Five: 19 February 2013 ]Remarks on run up to 1984 miners strike: preparation in place by late 1983, supplies, coal stocks; Arthur Scargill appointment as NUM President; NUM work to rule causing reduction in coal stocks that could deplete ability to withstand a strike, CEGB warning government about situation; NCB closing Yorkshire colliery, resulting in NUM response; Yorkshire flying pickets spreading strike to other regions, except Nottinghamshire; CEGB concern over whether the strike had properly began and if they should burn more oil to produce electricity; CEGB Chairman Walter Marshall's decision to start oil burn, gradually to allow oil supply to be set up; Margaret Thatcher's remarks on oil burn decision in 'The Downing Street Years'. [05:25] Remarks on CEGB head Walter Marshall: background in UKAEA, not CEGB; management style; supporter of Margaret Thatcher's government; description of Walter Marshall, comparisons with previous Chairmen. [07:45] Remarks on: opinion of Thatcher government from within CEGB, support in building of Sizewell B nuclear reactor. [09:17] Description of FL position within CEGB as Director of operations and subordinates: Ed Wallis, system operation engineer, responsible for managing grid operation and providing simulations of performance; fuel officer John Wooley; Granville Camsey, responsible for spares; nuclear fuel officer; uranium purchasing officer Mike Townsend; ash marketing officer; important role of regions in managing power stations and detail of strike; links between central and regional CEGB; FL responsibility to board member for operation Gil Blackman; weekly reports to CEGB board, based on FL's Monday morning meetings, used for Marshall's weekly report to minister; civil servant from department of energy sitting in on weekly meetings, change to previous practice. [14:45] Remarks on Monday morning meetings during the strike: including, Ed Wallis, Granville Camsey, John Wooley, and DoE [Department of Energy] civil servant; CEGB approach of giving out minimal information to public; atmosphere in meetings. [17:41] Remarks on miners strike: National Union of Railway Workers and ASLEF supporting NUM strike, leading to problems with coal delivery; anecdote about FL daily telephone discussions with British Rail and the coal supply to Fiddler Ferry; anecdote about minister being telephoned by a helpful signalman; concerns over pressuring railways too far over strike in case of sparking industrial action in railways; Nottinghamshire use of road transport of coal, importance of supportive local government; good performance of Midlands region coal supply officer Jack Evans and Director of Generation; [23:15] high performance of coal road transport; NUM picketing efforts directed toward enforcing strike in coal industry not at CEGB; confrontations between miners and lorry drivers. [25:00] Remarks on CEGB plan for strike: build up coal stocks; burn more oil; stockpile essential power station commodities; strategy of keeping the lights on for as long as possible; Ed Wallis group predictions of CEGB endurance; winter need for most power stations, retention of coal stocks at 'have not stations' that were needed in Winter but could not be easily supplied; sensitivity to close links between CEGB workers and miners in some places; [28:45] start of strike; arranging for road borne oil supplies from non-unionised companies; increased use of oil. [30:40]


    Track 10 cont: Remarks on FL role during miners strike: running team; examples of decision making over transport and supply; customs duties for oil supply; intervention during tanker problems at Kings North and Grain power stations; FL intervention in oil purchasing decisions when prices were escalated; daily contact with regional Directors of generation; [35:07] level of FL decision making, need to take decisions quickly, close contact with Gil Blackman; Gil Blackman's desire to avoid pressing NE CEGB region too much. [36:25] [cont' from 36:25] Remarks on teamwork and descriptions of subordinates: Ed Wallis, disagreement with FL over firmer stance in the NE region; anecdote about FL car breaking down; fuel supply officer John Wooley, subordinate David Bridger; examples of interaction of Wooley and FL over oil supply matters; Granville Camsey, management of difficulties with supply of carbon dioxide to nuclear power stations, lack of need to use extreme measures for supply; [42:33] overall arrangements for gas turbine peak lopping power stations, set up of servicing facilities at Littlebrook to supplement normal Rolls-Royce servicing; Camsey and subordinate West arranging use of Admiralty overhaul facilities at Fleetlands. [44:30] Remarks on: use of gas turbine power station, anecdote about NUM supporters gluing locks on unmanned stations shut. [45:15] Remarks on measures to extend endurance: CEGB fuel supply and generation situation over summer 1984, modification of coal power stations to burn more oil; autumn 1984 concerns over CEGB endurance; FL Monday morning meeting to search for ways of extending endurance; asking regions to contribute more, South East Director of Generation Tom McInerney increasing output thanks to Grain overload capacity; decisions to use gas turbines on full output; potential use of voltage reductions to reduce system reserve of inefficient, partially loaded plant; use of surplus electricity from private suppliers; [51:10] not wanting to show signs of weakness to miners; meetings between FL, Ed Wallis, Gil Blackman and regions over fuel supply to have not stations, resulting in coal supply to have-not stations such as Didcot and Aberthaw; fears over strike in CEGB. [54:56] Remarks on: comparison of 1970s and 1980s miners strikes, weakness in 1970s, optimism and confidence in 1980s; possibilities over industrial action in CEGB, historically poor relations in some areas, such as near docks; problems with staff over oil movements at West Thurrock power station; management of industrial relations in the regions; police and miner's battles occupying press attention more than CEGB; anecdote about 'Financial Times' reporter Morris Samuelson being surprisingly well informed; anecdote about profile of FL in Financial Times.


    Track 11 [53:29] Comments on use and importance of computer systems during 1984 miners strike: simulations to ensure system stability and check power flows are within thermal limits; system security simulations of future, producing Picaso diagram; fuel burn simulations; additional simulations developed to calculate endurance by Ed Wallis's team. [03:35] Remarks on: power flows around country during miners strike, normal North - South power flow reversed as use of oil increased and coal declined; local level innovation within CEGB, rapid modifications undertaken at power stations; lack of rota-disconnections limiting role of Area Electricity Boards beyond customer relations role, such as in Yorkshire; Electricity Council kept informed. [07:09] Discussion about daily life over miners strike: emergency control room used to collate information and where FL watched the television news during strike; FL frequent contact with regional Directors of Generation; frequent discussions with superior Gil Blackman; lunchtime discussions with CEGB managers; working hours; anecdote about overcoming difficulties sleeping; less urgent work outside strike continuing; importance of writing letters and papers as a record; need for FL to comment on papers considered by generating board; working at home; help of secretary Pat Fennel; [13:40] Miners strike dominating CEGB activity; significant developments on a daily basis; [15:10] relations between central and regional CEGB, important relationship with regional Directors of generation; Monthly meetings with Gil Blackman and regional Directors general; limited internal politics in operations, compared to matters such as regional computing; FL views on need to push North Eastern CEGB region more; FL spending most of his time in London. [18:29] Remarks on events of winter 1984: supplies to have not stations and simulations increasing confidence; anecdote about CEGB meeting highest ever winter demand, in spite of the strike, on a day the NUM were meeting in Sheffield; construction of cross Channel electricity link to EDF accelerated, Walter Marshall declaring ability of CEGB to meet future demand; electricity trade unions issuing guidelines to work normally, leading to oil supplies to Yorkshire stations; NUM ordering of miners back to work in March; FL feelings on strike and its end, optimistic but occasionally doubtful [24:25]


    Track 11 cont: strike showing CEGB at its best; anecdote about CEGB response at times of difficulty in winters. [25:55] Comments on miners and politics: FL feelings about NUM in 1980s; FL belief that pit closure programme was inevitable rather than a deliberate provocation by Thatcher government; Arthur Scargill poorly servicing long term interests of miners; regrets over decline of British coal industry after privatisation of ESI; FL limited contact with politicians in 1980s strike, visit to minister with Walter Marshall at end of strike; anecdote about FL going on holiday at end of strike. [31:13] Remarks on events after miners strike: anecdote about FL award of OBE by the Queen; CEGB keeping low profile during strike; grievances against CEGB in some communities; limited recognition of CEGB leading FL to write book of strike with Howard Sallis from Electricity Council; television program on strike not featuring Gil Blackman; payment arrangements for increased CEGB oil burn during strike; profitability of CEGB and build up of reserves; [36:30] FL views on how miners strike is seen today, Margaret Thatcher, Arthur Scargill, police, illegal nature of picketing; return to normal operation after end of strike, reduction in oil burn, use of coal stocks; FL and Howard Sallis giving talks to area board people. [39:30] Comments on: relations between CEGB and Area Electricity Boards, high spending of CEGB sometimes resented, FL friends in area boards and speaking at Area Board courses at Horsley Towers. [42:20] Further remarks on Miners Strike: importance of oil burn and coal supply by road; John Wooley's group's role in oil buying; Hugh Matthew's group setting up road coal supply; Ed Wallis's group's simulations; FL feelings that CEGB staff should have been better honoured for their role; FL awarding staff, such as Ed Wallis and David Bridger, with perks. [45:30] Remarks on FL career after miners strike: Fred Bonner's retirement and promotion of Gil Blackman to deputy Chairman of CEGB, FL becoming board member for operations; Gil Blackman's reorganisation of CEGB abolishing CEGB regions; FL chairing operations executive group of Director of operations Ed Wallis, Director of engineering Brian Ellings, and Director of Generation Bob Weeks; FL responsibilities for grid and all power stations leading to him travelling country to explore network; 1989 privatisation, FL turning down post as head of Magnox reactor company by DoE; FL feelings of weariness toward end of career; FL turning down role in Power Gen in favour of possibly staying at National Power as manager Director of operations; non-privatisation of power stations leading to Nuclear Electric under John Collier, with FL as deputy Chairman; retirement at 63. [50:50] Description of FL at end of miner's strike: proud of CEGB work but weary; reorganisation of CEGB; looking forward to vacations after not having a holiday for 18 months; anxiety over son's divorce.


    Track 12 [1:04:40][Interview Six: 5 March 2013] Story about change to convert Hams Hall B power station to gas firing during 1984/85 miners strike: John Wooley proposal; station manager Jack Davies; British Gas slow in setting up arrangements; saving in coal from gas burn. [02:35] Remarks on: modifications to power station equipment to burn gas; European Community rules against use of gas in power stations. [03:50] Descriptions of reorganisation of CEGB in late 1980s: original 400 power stations divided between 12 divisions; consolidation into 5 regions in 1970s; replacement of smaller power stations with larger ones; 1980s change to more centralised structure under Directors of generation, operational engineering, operations, and transmission; organisation set up by Gil Blackman; FL appointment as board member for operations, chairing executive meeting for running of power stations and grid; benefits of reorganisation. [07:19] Remarks on CEGB board: external members of CEGB board, such as Dick Giordano of British Oxygen, Sharp, architect Derbyshire; arrangements for monthly meetings; contributions of external board members; collaborative and detailed nature of meetings; preparation before hand; discussion about Sizewell B nuclear power station, CEGB case presented by John Baker; [12:20] discussions about acid rain, decision to apply flue gas desulphurising plant to some stations, difficulty balancing environment and economics, lack of direction from government, need to gain experience in desulphurising technology. [14:34] Further remarks on Sizewell B: background of Magnox and Advanced Gas-cooled Reactors [AGR]; debate around CANDU, boiling water reactor, and pressurised water reactor [PWR]; Walter Marshall committee investigation into PWR, progressed after Marshall became head of CEGB; project leader Brian George; John Baker's role as leader of CEGB public inquiry team; construction started by CEGB, completed post privatisation; anticipation of more power stations, including at Hinkley Point. [17:55] Remarks on CEGB discussion of different emery sources: investigation into Severn Barrage, problems with silting and expense; wind turbines not regarded as being of merit; small scale hydroelectric power, such as replanting of small power station by Mount Snowdon, opposition to Snowdon pipeline from conservationist Esme Kirby; emerging Combined Cycle Gas Turbine [CCGT] technology, anticipated opposition from government who wished to preserve coal industry; plan for 900MW coal fired plant; anticipation of future energy mix post 1980s mainly based on coal and nuclear; pre-1973 oil power developments under George Brown's economic planning, spoilt by increased oil prices; coal industry viewing CEGB as captive market. [22:55]


    Track 12 cont:Further remarks on CEGB board meetings: chief officers presenting papers at board meetings; FL not recalling first board meeting well; feeling of being part of a team to do something useful for the public; CEGB Chairman attending Electricity Council meetings, FL relationship with EC commercial officer Ray Orson over bulk supply tariff; finance director Fred Bonner; operational and plant margin costs implication for bulk supply tariff. [26:55] Remarks on industrial relations: annual salary negotiations; FL membership of NJB [National Joint Board] and NJIC [National Joint Industrial Council]; anecdote about lengthy discussions at ACAS over NJIC dispute; issues in pay negotiations; EC advisor Roger Farrance and deputy Howard Sallis. [31:10] Remarks on duties of board member for operations: role operationally managing power stations and National Grid; decisions over spending money to improve power station performance; need to modernise Grid, such as repainting of transmission towers; cooling tower reinforcement; daily duties, such as preparing papers for expenditure, visiting power stations and transmission districts, visiting newly restructured sections of CEGB. [35:10] Remarks on change in National Grid in reorganisation: Transmission Construction group at Guildford under Peter Howard; changes in grid control arrangements, eventually leading to central control. [37:00] Remarks on contact with foreign ESIs: technical support arrangements with Australia, who used British plant; exchanges with publicly owned Ontario Hydro and Tennessee Valley Authority; relationship with French EDF over cross-Channel transmission cables, intense final negotiations to finalise arrangements over cable, difficulties deciding on how electricity should be priced, French role as European electricity trading middle-man; anecdote about meeting with Italian electricity industry over concerns French would sell on Italian electricity; [41:04 pause] relationships with South African ESKOM; FL earlier visit to Pakistan connected with supply of aid; deal between EDF and CEGB over cross-channel link; replacement of South Bank National Control computer system in a less vulnerable location, FL and Ed Wallis search for new location, decision to buy in software rather than develop in house based on FL knowledge of foreign ESI's problems with control software development; [44:55]

  • Notes:
    Recording: 2012-05-28, 2012-06-28, 2012-11-27, 2012-01-08, 2013-02-19, 2013-03-05;
    - Ledger, Frank (speaker, male; interviewee);
    - Guilbert, Steven (speaker, male; interviewer);
    - Lean, Thomas (speaker, male; interviewer)
    Recording Notes: audio file 14 WAV 24 bit 48 kHz 2-channel
    Access restrictions: none

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