The Professor, aged 9

 

Childerhode

Nauticold'n trainit

Bebeseekers

Actyup in spotlighty

Starrystage'n screel

Sitting cumftibold

 

Stanley Unwin was born in Pretoria, South Africa, on 7 June 1911.

 

His mother and father had emigrated from the UK in the early part of the century but it was to be a stay cut short by the death of Stanley's father, Ivan, in 1914. A year later his mother decided to bring the family - his older brother Oswald (who died after a bout of appendicitis at the tender age of 8) and his two sisters, Gladys and Eveline - over to England, travelling steerage on a commandeered German ship.

 

Back in dear old Blighty, one of Stanley's earliest and fondest memories was of his Uncle Jack who by all accounts was a bit of a mechanical wizard and a dab hand at mending clocks and watches. Looking at Stanley's later life, Jack may well have been a bit of an early influence on the young lad, fuelling a lifelong fascination with all things electrical.

 

When the First World War broke out Stanley was evacuated out to a number of 'billets', mainly across the Essex area. During this time he had little contact with either his sisters or his mother, apart from the very occasional summer holiday.

 

Just after the war in 1919, he was sent to the National Children's Home in Congleton in Cheshire. Here, he seemed to get up to what most kids get up to but he did flex his tonsils in a local choir which toured around the county.

 

One of these musical outings took him to Belle Vue in Manchester, a visit which proved to be a bit of a turning point for our Stan:

Although it was memorable as a great fairground, there was another attraction which was to influence my life to a considerable degree. A large trolley, rather like those perambulated round a hotel dining room laden with trifles and other delicacies, but even larger, was being pushed along by two men. The strange looking objects upon it drew me like a magnet. There was an array of coiled wires, little blocks with terminals thereon and wires leading up to other wires strung across two poles supported at each end of the trolley. Later I learnt that they were valves and in fact the whole set-up was a transmitter.

This run-in with what turned out to be a BBC Outside Broadcast Unit certainly fired his imagination. He immediately set about scraping the money together to buy an early Hertzite crystal wireless set, which signalled the start of a hobby that was to later turn into a very successful career.