Industry: water, steel & energy

Camsey, Granville (13 of 16). An Oral History of the Electricity Supply in the UK

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  • Recording date

    2013-04-18, 2013-05-02, 2013-09-26, 2013-10-22, 2013-12-10, 2014-01-14, 2014-01-28, 2014-03-17, 2014-04-15

  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home, Buckinghamshire

  • Interviewees

    Camsey, Granville, 1936- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 13: Further remarks on livery company membership: lecture topics; formal annual dinners; socialising with other engineers. [01:35] Comments on need to deal with landowners over land use for electrical network expansion: contemporary Sizewell B inquiry bringing together various groups with an interest; new construction of power stations and transmission lines requiring purchase of council or private land; anecdote about Midlands landowner Geordie Boyle, a descendant of scientist Robert Boyle, becoming interested in electricity industry and visiting GC at Rugeley; limited amount of building relations with landowners over Sizewell B construction; local notables on advisory committees of nuclear power stations. [07:10] Remarks on Bricket Wood CEGB education centre: history of site; splendid residential facilities; outline of 3 night courses to assess qualities of staff for promotion selection; GC membership of selection group; similarities with GC management training. [11:10] Remarks on daily work as Director of Production: very different to relaxed headquarters attitude; managing production interesting, demanding and constantly busy, but GC finding it un-stressful due to enjoyments and interest; interaction with power station managers, frequent contact and monthly meetings; anecdote about drinks cabinet only being opened late after meetings; anecdote about Gil Blackman checking on mileage of GC's chauffeur driven car used for travelling around region; GC picked up by car for commute to headquarters in Southwark, typical 8 - 6.30 hours; evenings spent at city functions. [16:10] Comments on power station and environment: procedures for inspecting emissions of power stations; need for location manager to meet requirements of inspectors; difficulty controlling emissions of power stations; anecdote about a power station damaging a nearby market garden; care managing noise concerns over power station operations; acid rain damage in Scandinavia; pollution of River Trent by accidents with power station discharges; monitoring of station environment care measures falling within remit of Director of Production; rare examples of station managers being removed from post due to unacceptable condition of station; difficulty managing power stations in problematic locations, such as Yorkshire coalfields; [22:55] Director of Production responsibility for assisting station managers with difficult situations, such as labour relations; deficiencies in engineering management showing in plant performance; confrontational interaction between station managers and inspectors over power station emissions, difficulties with occasional over-officious inspectors, debates over meaning of rules and the frequency and accuracy of monitoring; CEGB ability to muster considerable expertise to support its position; [28:25] 1980s acid rain debate, lengthy processing of evidence, considerable uncertainties; different positions taken by parties with different interests in debates over environmental issues; GC uninvolved in acid rain debate personally; anecdote about CEGB defender skilfully obfuscating situation; difficulties for a large organisation to change without considerable evidence. [32:00] Story about GC recruitment to China Light and Power [CL&P] in Hong Kong: GC growing dissatisfaction with CEGB; telephone call asking if GC would consider becoming chief executive elect; CEGB subsidiary British Electricity International providing guidance to ESI's around the world, including Hong Kong; ownership of CL&P by Jewish Kadoorie family; Exon bringing technical and other expertise into CL&P, decision to appoint CEGB personnel to CL&P; Kowloon power station based on CEGB technical staff; [37:15] interview at the Savoy with CEO Michael Clancy, followed by informal meeting at Browns for tea; GC accepting offer; GC difficult conversation with Gil Blackman; anecdote about Blackman refusing to decide between GC another candidate; tour of CL&P facilities seducing GC into accepting job offer; GC making a mistake accepting job; GC discovering poor reputation of existing CEO; privatization of CEGB providing GC with a way of returning to British ESI; GC expecting to stay 10 years in Hong Kong; anecdote about GC phone call to return to UK. [42:20] Remarks on GC feelings about leaving the CEGB: previously considering leaving CEGB; GC background; GC restlessness in CEGB work, nearly joining consultancy in Canada, Parsons Turbines, Babcocks Boilers; GC wife concerns over move to Hong Kong; wonderful leaving part at Bricket Wood; few people leaving CEGB at senior level; leaving CEGB not easy decision but moving on readily; anecdote about wife dealing well with moves between 13 houses in GC working life; contrast of GC work dedication with work-life balance concerns of later generation.

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