Sunday, January 07, 2018

KW Electronics.

The photo above shows the river front and William Cory Promenade at Erith during low tide. Many people do not realise that Erith is the only place in the London Borough of Bexley where you can get direct access to the River Thames. On a nice day it is a lovely place to be, but at this time of year it is bitterly cold, with a prevailing wind coming in from the East, seemingly coming directly from Siberia.

A story that has been ongoing for some considerable time seems to be coming to a head; the implications of it could be extremely widespread, and could indeed affect the way that news reporting is carried out. As many readers will know, there are a number of local Bloggers who keep in loose contact, and occasionally share stories. This group includes The Thamesmead Grump, Darryl of the 853 Blog, Malcolm Knight of Bexley is Bonkers, and myself. Of this informal association Darryl and Malcolm stand out. Darryl because he is a "proper" trained journalist, and he treats the 853 Blog as a job, supported by his Patreon followers (full disclosure here, I do support Darryl in a very small way via Patreon). Malcolm Knight did I fear miss his ideal vocation. He's been retired from his career for several years, and has come somewhat late to his calling, that of being an excellent local investigative journalist. As with many investigative journalists, he has made some enemies along the way - principally from people who would rather that Malcolm did not bring certain things to the public attention. You can read the specific details which lead to the current situation by clicking here. I have known Malcolm for a number of years, and I can attest that he is not a "nutter" or a deluded obsessive about the news stories he publishes - he is dogged, resourceful and thorough in checking his sources. Malcolm has highlighted a number of issues over the last few years, some of which have involved Bexley Council. Certain members of the Council do not like this, and have taken a series of actions which in my opinion could end up seriously affecting freedom of speech. Malcolm has written an open letter, which I am publishing in full here:- "I run a news website in SE London and have done since September 2009. My MP has said it is the best source of local news in her constituency (Erith & Thamesmead). However the police have told me that any news that might cause anyone to feel uncomfortable will be regarded as criminal harassment if the subject complains. This attitude has the potential to bring every news outlet to a standstill. Think of Damian Green in the recent past and Kier Starmer/John Worboys today. On 14th November 2017 a Bexley Councillor Maxine Fothergill was in the High Court in the Strand where she had admitted lying in a widely distributed letter and agreed to pay a total £70,000 to the two litigants. Legal costs were estimated to be in the region of £280,000. I provided brief details the same day. On the 16th November I received the News Press Pack from one of the litigants and was able to provide more detail and documentary evidence on that day and the following two days by which time I felt the story was exhausted. On 30th November Cllr. Fothergill’s letter of apology began to reach interested parties and that fact was also noted. No more happened until 8th December when I received a letter from Cllr. Fothergill’s solicitor. It asked only that I did not link to the local UKIP website which had carried the same story but went further and suggested the libel case implied corruption. I had made no judgment at all, no opinion on the morality etc. of the Councillor whatsoever. The solicitor presumably recognised the restrained nature of my news reporting. On 18th December I was commanded by Kent Police to attend Swanley Police station or be arrested. I was interviewed under caution for doing what you do every day. Publishing simple news but in my case without any significant comment. The latest information is that they are considering sending a file to the CPS. (On 5th January 2018 they did so). They appear to be conflating Harassment with Hate Crime. If the subject perceives Harassment then it is Harassment. If this is allowed to go forward every news outlet might be subject to the same rules. This is not the first time I have been attacked by Bexley Councillors. I was threatened in writing by the Met. Police that I would be arrested if I ever “criticised Councillors”. The IPCC made them withdraw that threat. More recently I was accused of Harassment of a minor who was the daughter of a Councillor who had himself been spoken to by the police because of noisy house parties. I had used a photograph to illustrate a story on a related subject. The photo had been taken from the Councillor’s own Facebook page and the decision to blur it was entirely mine. I did not say who was in the photo or mention the relationship with the Councillor or in fact give any clue as to why the photo was included in the story. I was accused of “revealing all the personal details of a minor” even though no one outside her own family circle would have any idea who it was. It took seven months for the police’s legal advisers to conclude that no offence had been committed. The police (Kent in this case) are out of control and politicised. I could tell you of cases where Councillors have committed criminal offences against me. In one case the CPS lost the evidence and the other is still rumbling on nearly seven years later. Making simple news reporting a criminal offence is a step too far which should be tackled at every level". I will leave you to make your own minds up regarding this story; you can see Malcolm's "Bexley is Bonkers" website here. Please feel free to leave a comment below, or Email me at

As many regular readers will know, I am an enthusiastic supporter of recycling. I am also keen to prevent fly tipping in its many forms, and indeed, as the person running the largest Neighbourhood Watch scheme in the London Borough of Bexley, I have been involved in a number of successful fly tipping prosecutions, including one notable incident where the perpetrator was jailed for eight months and his van was confiscated. It saddens me that Bexley Council currently take a very sort term view on the currently very high profile subject of plastic recycling. As mentioned recently, many local councils around the country are having to review their plastics recycling policy, now that China has imposed an import ban on many forms of plastic from European countries. In an interview last week in the Guardian, Simon Ellin, chief executive of the UK Recycling Association, said his members had already seen some lower grade plastics piling up at their yards and warned urgent action was needed. “You can already see the impact if you walk round some of our members’ yards. Plastic is building up and if you were to go around those yards in a couple of months’ time the situation would be even worse.” The Chinese plastic ban came in on the 1st of January, but Ellin said many UK recycling businesses stopped shipping plastic to China in the autumn because of fears it might not arrive before the deadline. “We have relied on exporting plastic recycling to China for 20 years and now people do not know what is going to happen. A lot of [our members] are now sitting back and seeing what comes out of the woodwork, but people are very worried.” China’s dominance in manufacturing means that for years it has been the world’s largest importer of recyclable materials. In 2016, it imported 7.3m tonnes of waste plastics from developed countries including the UK, the US and Japan. British companies alone have shipped more than 2.7m tonnes of plastic waste to China and Hong Kong since 2012 – two-thirds of the UK’s total waste plastic exports, according to data from Greenpeace released last month. Last summer the Chinese government announced it intended to stop the importation of 24 kinds of solid waste by the end of the year, and this has now happened. It seems to me that one question has not been asked in relation to this situation, namely, why have we been exporting plastic waste to China when we can recycle it here, without the carbon footprint of shipping it overseas? The higher wage cost of in-shoring the recycling would surely be offset by the great reduction in transportation costs. One new use for empty plastic packaging and bottles has recently been announced; Researchers from the National Council of Scientific and Technological Research in Argentina have come up with a novel way to turn used plastic drinking bottles into eco-friendly building bricks. The PET (polyethylene terephthalate) material the bottles and bricks are made from is as strong as a conventional house brick made from sand and cement. They also have several significant advantages over conventional bricks - they are thinner and lighter, have superb heat insulating properties (five times more than standard bricks) and are just as strong as their stony counterparts. They are also great at insulating against noise and it only takes twenty plastic bottles on average to make one brick. Each brick helps rid the world of discarded plastic and is cheaper and more fuel efficient to manufacture than conventional bricks. It is also less energy intensive than recycling the plastic into other forms. This is not the only process for recycling plastic bottles into construction materials; another firm has come up with an alternative method. Peter Lewis, a New Zealand based inventor, has been following a similar process with a company called ByFusion, where he works as an engineer. The company's main focus is to convert plastic rubbish into a range of sustainable building materials. Peter is the man behind RePlast blocks, a brick-like product that can be made in a variety of shapes, sizes and densities. The process involves a modular platform that is portable and designed to run on gas or electricity. His machine doesn’t even need the plastic to be sorted or washed; it just compresses the plastic scrap directly into bricks. The bricks require no glues or adhesives for use, produce 95 percent lower Greenhouse Gas Emissions compared to concrete blocks and have very high thermal and acoustic insulation. Perhaps this is something that we should be doing in the UK - especially with the ever increasing need for new housing. What do you think? Leave a comment below, or Email me at

The Maggot Sandwich would be nothing if it was not for the input from the readers; this week I have had some fascinating Email conversations regarding a local company that I had been previously unaware of. Much of the following information comes courtesy of a chap called Steve Shorey, a Dartford resident, and a fellow Amateur Radio enthusiast. KW Electronics were founded in 1956 by a man called Rowland G Shears, better known to his friends as Rowley. The company was initially run from Rowley's house at 136 Birchwood Road, Wilmington, before soon moving to a more suitable factory building located in Heath Street, Dartford, just off Lowfield Street. During World War 2 Rowley had been an officer in the Army; he was a radio and communications specialist, having gained his Amateur Radio licence before the outbreak of war. KW Electronics started out by making much cheaper and simplified versions of the excellent American Collins amateur radios - certainly the early KW equipment looked physically similar to the much more expensive Collins kit, and it is my opinion that if this happened nowadays, then lawyers might well have become involved. This however was the late fifties, and such things were of little concern. Collins radio equipment was superb, but generally too expensive for mass import to the British market at that time, where many Radio Amateurs built their own equipment, or modified second hand or war surplus radios. Buying a dedicated rig new was a relatively uncommon event then. As well as the factory in Heath Street, there was a showroom, where the various radio models were on display. KW Electronics started out in January 1956, when Rowland Shears and his business partner Ken Ellis began importing radio components and accessories from a supplier in Italy; it was not long before they expanded into making their own equipment, which soon became very popular; within a few years they were manufacturing a range of amateur radio transmitters, receivers and combined transceivers, as well as ancillaries such as radio power amplifiers. If you watch the first James Bond film, Doctor No, you can see a KW Electronics radio being used. In the film, every night at around 6:30, the MI6 representative of Jamaica John Strangways would leave his game of bridge and head out to his bungalow. His secretary Mary Trueblood would be waiting, preparing the communications so that Strangways could signal in his report as soon as he arrived. She would signal the communications base, saying "W6N calling G7W". W6N being the Jamaican base and G7W being the London base. If the call was interrupted or if Strangways didn't report by the "red call" at 7:30, the communications would be severed permanently, and an emergency alarm raised. The actual communications equipment used in Jamaica was a K.W. Vanguard high frequency transmitter  and an Eddystone 840/A receiver - another British brand that was very popular at the time. Separate transmitter and receiver units were common at the time - this was somewhat before combined transmitter / receiver units - nowadays called transceivers are the norm. K.W Electronics prospered during the 1960's, and their Dartford factory / showroom became a meeting place for radio enthusiasts. KW tried to break into the US Amateur Radio market in 1969, but this was not a success; at that time the Japanese were breaking into markets all around the world with solid state (not valve / tube, as European and American companies were still mainly using) equipment. Japanese radio kit soon got a reputation for being competitively priced, full featured, and most importantly, well built and reliable. Many non Japanese companies found themselves suffering due to the competition - just as happened in the car and general consumer electronics market place. This caused serious problems for KW Electronics. The Company was sold to Decca in 1974 (Decca were more interested in the profitable commercial arm of KW than developing the ham radio line). The last catalogue of KW Amateur Radio equipment is from 1977. Decca were then bought by The Racal Group in 1980 for $250m - Racal were keen on Decca's expertise in microwave radio and electronic warfare systems, but most definitely not in Amateur  Radio. Rowland Shears managed to buy the rights to the  KW name back along with quite a lot of assets and carried on trading as a ham radio supplier selling KW ancillaries and TEN TEC rigs until he retired in 1989. He died in 2009, but the name of KW Electronics is kept alive by a lively group of enthusiasts. You can read much more in detail about the KW Electronics enthusiasts group, the radios they restore and preserve, and also about Steve Shorey, who kindly supplied much of the information in this article by visiting his website here


Now for this weeks local safety and security news from Bexley Borough Neighbourhood Watch Association. First a report from Barnehurst ward:- "Barnehurst Ward can report zero burglaries for the past week however there has been two attempted burglaries. One of which was on the 28th December 2017 at 03.55am in Leysdown Avenue. The resident was woken by sounds outside the address and the security light activated. CCTV footage revealed two males getting out of a possible Ford focus/fiesta. Both males wore joggings bottoms, puffa jackets and had their faces covered, one in particular had a distinctive face mask on. Once the CCTV cameras were spotted the suspects fled from the scene. The second attempted burglary was in Hillingdon Road. This incident occurred overnight on 30th December 2017. The rear door had been locked at 10.00pm, the following morning the door was found to be damaged however no entry was made. `Both of the mentioned Incidents may have ended differently had crime prevention measures not been taken. CCTV has proved to deter the suspects in Leysdown Avenue and the rear door being deadlocked in Hillingdon Road made it difficult for suspects to gain entry. Dates for our drop in surgery will be in next week’s update and will also be advertised on our Twitter and Facebook page. Barnehurst Local Policing Team would like to wish all you all a very safe and happy New Year". Belvedere ward:- "To begin, the team would like to wish you a very happy new year! As you may be aware, PC Green and PC Holmes have been aided by officers from neighbouring wards over the Christmas and New Year period to conduct patrols of problem areas in the north of the borough. On December 29th, a group of males were disturbed by patrolling officers in Lower Belvedere as they were found to be in possession of a stolen moped. One of the group was arrested in relation to this and the moped restored to its rightful owner. The team then issued a cannabis warning after searching a male on Barnehurst ward. Since the new year, we have bene concentrating our patrols in the Picardy Street area and also in areas inclusive of and around Nuxley Road, in an effort to deter further shoplifting and theft offences that had been occurring in those areas in the latter months of 2017".  Brampton ward:- "Unfortunately we have had 3 X burglaries In Berkeley Avenue, Dunwich Road and Cloudesley Road; 1 X attempted burglary in Fairlawn Avenue; 1 X making off without paying from Shell Garage in Long Lane. An assault on police and possession of class A drugs outside The Yacht public house in Long Lane; 1 X tyres slashed in Birchington Close. And finally, some tools were taken from a van in Sheldon Road".  Christchurch ward:- "We hope you have all had a good Christmas and wish you all a Happy New Year. Below is a brief summary of what has been happening on our ward: We have had a purse taken on the 2nd Jan 2108, victim was in the Premiere Inn at the time. Also a bag was taken from a trolley in Marks and Spencer on the 19/12/2017; A robbery was reported on the 02/01/2018 along Market Square on the Broadway, victims bag was taken from them and the suspect was on a pushbike; On the 1st January, we had a report of a theft of pedal cycle which had happened outside McDonalds. On the 29th December 2017 along Erith Road Bexleyheath, number plates had been stolen from a vehicle. As mentioned previously please be mindful as we are still getting reports of purses/bags being stolen. For crime prevention advice, please look at the Met Police website which does have information that you may find useful. If you wish to contact the team, please feel free to contact us via email, twitter or over the phone. In an emergency please dial 999 and 101 for non-urgent reporting". Crayford ward:- "Happy new year to all our residents, we hope that you enjoyed the Christmas and new year festivities. In Crayford there have been three burglaries and an attempted burglary in the last week. The attempted burglary occurred at 4.10am on Thursday 28 December in Green Walk. A car pulls up outside the property, one person stays in it, another keeps look out while the third person opens the porch door and kicks the front door. On seeing the resident looking out, they drove away at speed. On Friday 29 December a lady woke up to find that her house had been burgled, her handbag, car keys and two bottles of alcohol had been taken, she then realised that her car had been stolen from the car park. This car has now been recovered by our colleagues at Kent Police, found damaged after a road traffic collision in Gravesend. On Monday 1st January between 17.00-19.00 a burglary happened at Old Road. The lower pane of a glass door was smashed to the rear of the property which is not overlooked at all. Entry was gained and a Mac Book was stolen after an untidy search. Later that evening the resident called police again to say that their car had now been stolen off the their drive using the spare keys from within the house. In Heath Road there was a burglary, in this instance it is believed that the property was securely locked but an upstairs window was open above a flat roof and this was the way the burglar entered. An extremely messy search was made, furniture overturned. For this family it was the second burglary in three months and they are extremely distressed. These areas will have extra reassurance patrols in the coming days. Number plates were stolen from a vehicle in Crayford Way on 26 December between 17.50-18.20. A camper van was broken in to between Thursday 28 December and Monday 1st January, a car radio was taken. On Sunday 31 December, Crayford SNT located a stolen vehicle which had been stolen from Maiden Lane in November, it had been involved in a collision and had front end damage, the steering wheel had also been physically removed. PC Murphy will be involved in an initiative called pulse patrols in the coming weeks, which may take him away from Crayford at times but on a positive note will mean that at other times when the pulse patrols come to Crayford there will be six officers in the area, tacking local issues". Erith ward:- "Welcome to 2018! This is a really short update ending with a few crimes listed below. Erith now has a new sergeant, PS Bryan Young. who has worked on Welling ward before where they had 100 percent NHW coverage, So I am sure he has the same plans for Erith. We should be getting our Facebook page up and running soon so expect an update on that in the upcoming weeks, as well as a list of Bike marking and Surgery dates". Lesnes Abbey ward: - "The Lesnes Abbey Panel Meeting takes place on Monday 15th January in Bostall Library at 7pm. This is a good opportunity for residents in the Ward to meet their local police team where crime and concerns over the past quarter are discussed priorities agreed for the next quarter.  Burglary - a Burglary occurred in Leckwith Avenue between the hours of 12:00 pm and 08:30 pm. Home crime prevention - When the nights get longer keep the burglars guessing; Make your home look occupied by using timer lights - Motor Vehicle in Wolvercote Road had number plate taken on Saturday 30/12/17 Motor Vehicle in Westergate Road had number plate taken on Sunday 31/12/17. Check your car security - Have you locked your doors and windows? Did you know that your vehicle is like a shop window ? If you can see any property left on view then so can a thief. Take it with you. Register your property for free and improve your chances of getting it back if it is lost or stolen and help reduce property crime, register at:". North End ward:- "Happy New Year to all our Coordinators. We had a burglary of sorts this week. A resident in manor Road reported that their garage had been broken into as the electronic shutter was open when they got up in the morning of New Years day but there was no damage to the garage door and all that was missing was one shoe! This is despite new mountain bikes and a car inside the garage along with a few other valuable items. CCTV does show a suspect walking through the access road at the time but he has 2 shoes on and nothing in his hand so if anyone does see someone walking around with only one shoe on, please give us a call! PC Brookes-Smith assisted other officers with a drugs arrest while out on the borough pulse patrol bus. PC Telfer has visited an elderly resident in Newbury Road who has been the victim of bank fraud and all steps are in place via Action Fraud to prevent this from happening again. If you know any vulnerable neighbours who may be targeted by any sort of scammer, please let us know and we will happily pay them a visit and give them some advice. We have a surgery on Tuesday 09/01/2018 at 1030 in the cafĂ© in Forest Road, please come along and say hi if you are free". Northumberland Heath ward:- "This a late round up due to the Christmas Period. There were three burglaries in the run up to the Christmas period and one attempted burglary. On Thursday December 21st a burglary took place in Hurst Road. The victims woke up at 6.30am to find their front door wide open. It is believed a tool may have been used to slip the lock however there were no tool marks found on the door. The suspect stole the keys to the victims Citroen van and Mercedes Hatchback and made off with both vehicles taking the victims Christmas presents with them. The second burglary also took place on Thursday December 21st in Shinglewell Road. The victim was woken up at 3am on hearing a noise downstairs. She shouted and went to the landing where she saw her front door wide open a saw a torch shining in the doorway. Thankfully the burglar left empty handed. There were two further incidents in Hythe Avenue both on Saturday December 23rd. The victim was asleep upstairs at 1.15am when she heard a noise which disturbed her. She then went to check on her children and alerted her husband. They went downstairs to a small study and saw a man hanging upside in the window having ripped down the blinds and Christmas lights at the window. The male was subsequently arrested at the scene. The second incident was an attempted burglary between 5pm – 5.25pm. The victims arrived home and found their rear door had been damaged. Entry was not gained. We are pleased to say that in the week between Christmas and New year there was only one reported incident in Brook Street of a shop window cracked by a stone about 4pm on the 31st December, it is not known if it was the group of youths nearby. Our next Coffee with Cops event will be held on Thursday January 4th between 11am – Noon at Tea on the Pantiles". Thamesmead East ward:- "Wishing everyone a happy new year. The team were working New Year’s Eve, into the early hours of the morning. One burglary to report this week, which occurred between Thursday 28th and Friday 29th December. Moped stolen from garage, Leather Bottle Green. Extra high visibility patrols have taken place. Two males have received cannabis warnings (Early hours Saturday 30th December, Manor Close and Wednesday 3rd January, Mangold Way) after the team found them in possession of a cannabis joint. If males stopped again with cannabis, they potential could be arrested. Reports of derelict flats being damaged, Binsey Walk. Peabody Housing aware, the team will be patrolling the area. We are always interested in recruiting new Neighbourhood watch co-ordinators for the ward. Please ask your family and friends if they would like to set up a Neighbourhood watch in their road. Please spread the word to any family and friends in the Borough - they can contact us on 020 8721 2049 or for more information. For latest news from Bexley Police, visit our twitter pages - @MPSBexley and @MPSThamesmeadE".

You may recall that last week the end video featured Geoff Marshall from "All the Stations" in a helicopter trip to examine the Christmas holiday period engineering works that had been undertaken in and around London Bridge Station. Well. this week the works are largely completed, and the new, improved London Bridge Station has now opened to the public. Geoff gets a tour around the station from the chap who accompanied him on the helicopter journey last weekend. I have to say that I visited the new station on Friday, and it is indeed stunning - much larger and better set out by far than the old 1970's station design. It may have taken years to plan and build, but in my opinion the end result is absolutely amazing. See what you think and feel free to Email me at