873 Movement Light Squadron, R.E.

Horn Lane, Acton, 1961 - 1993


October 2018 Update

 "news" now on new PAGE Drill Hall - history & demise

Home page and Introduction

If you were a member of 873 Movement Light Squadron, RE, or its predecessor unit, 873 Movement Light Battery, RA, or are just interested in searchlights used by the British Army either for battlefield ground lighting, military tattoos on for civil assistance, then this is the site for you. You will also find some passing references to another searchlight role, "ack-ack" or anti-aircraft, but that aspect is dealt with in great depth in other sites.

The site is not an "official" one, merely a collection of photos and memories contributed by a number of ex-searchlight operators at 873 during the 1960s, 70s, 80s and early 90s (see Contributors page)

This page begins with some non-873 stuff to set the scene and provide a historical connection, and it also has a few details of army searchlights after 873's demise, but the majority of this and the other pages is about the personnel and searchlights of 873 Movement Light Squadron, and much has not been published previously.

If you can add to or correct any information, or have any photos or memories to share, please e-mail.

Peter Cox, ex-L/Cpl in 873, 1967-69
Sqn shield
 the 873 shield in carbon-arc days
superceded after 1977 by new designs below

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No registration, no log-in.
No personal details taken.

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Searchlights in the British Army

The French army apparently experiented with searchlights, said to be carbon-arcs, in the middle of the 19th century and were employing them certainly by the 1880s.(1) The Royal Navy had also used some by then(2), and the Russians and Americans were also early users.(1) However, it was only in the last few years of that century that searchlights were introduced into the British Army when the Corps of Royal Engineers developed their own carbon-arc light.(3)

The principal was quite simple. A flame, or arc, is produced by electricity jumping between the tips of two carbon rods acting as electrodes, one positively charged, the other negative. The gap between the tips needs to be set to produce a steady and intense arc and as the rods burn away they have to be moved to keep the gap constant. Later, the racks holding the rods were motorised to provide automatic adjustment but some manual attention was sometimes needed, a skill all operators of carbon-arcs have needed to master.

The light produced was intensified by a reflector, just as with a torch, and searchlights are designated by the diameter of the reflector (in metric, except in the USA) - 90cm was the first size the British Army used and remained the most common until carbon-arcs were replaced by smaller high-tech bulb lights. Many lights are adjustable to provide a narrow beam or a wide flood of light.

Clicking the superscript numbers above and below will take you to the list of information sources
lorry mounted light, c1910
c1910 lorry mounted light
(photo: RE Museum)

lorry mounted light, c1936
c1936 lorry mounted lights
(photo: anon, on Flickr)
a restored British Army 150cm light operated by The Garrison WW2 RA re-enactment group
1939 150cm trailer mounted light.
(photo: The Garrison)
1899 The army first used searchlights during the the Boer War (1899-1902), for coastal defence and "artificial moonlight" for battlefield illumination by directing the beams at low level clouds.(2)
The earliest lights were mounted on horse-drawn waggons, and electrical power came from dynamos driven by steam engines.(3)
1907 Petrol-engined motor trucks were in use(3), but I don't know what powered the generators
1915 During the First World War, the Royal Engineers deployed searchlights for the first time in an "anti-aircraft" role, illuminating the skies over London to deter bombing attacks by German airships (Zeppelins) and aeroplanes.(3).
1918 By the end of the war there were twenty-six RE Searchlight Companies (3), equipped with 622 searchlights, a mixture of 90cm and 120cm lights.(2)
1920s-30s The Royal Engineers developed more robust and more efficient lights and they were manned by TA Companies.(3)
1936 The photo on the right is said to be in Palestine about 1936.(anon, flickr) That would have been during the Arab Revolt of 1936-39. Painted on the rear tailboards is "1st AA Bn. RE"
1938 New version of 90cm carbon-arc light introduced, known as "Projectors", for anti-aircraft use, fited with automatic carbon feed, and issued to newly formed RA searchlight units.(2) They were fitted with 4 small crawler tracks for easy manoeuvring on ground as were earlier versions, or they could be truck-mounted.
1939 Now twenty-seven RE TA battalions with searchlights.(3)
New 150cm light with narrow beam and attached sound projector introduced specifically for Anti-Aircraft use, mounted on a 4-wheel low-deck trailer (see left). These were mixed-in with the 90cm ones(2).
Various generators were tried, but the Lister JP4 (110 volt, 24kVA) trailer-mounted diesel-engined became the standard.(4)
a restored British Army 90cm light at the Aldershot Military Museum
1938 90cm tracked light
(at Aldershot Military Museum)

Lister JP4 generator at Fort Nelson
(photo: from HMVF)
1941 to 1945
Royal Artillery WW2  ops.
There's an enormous amount about this period elsewhere on the web and it's pointless repeating it here,

1941 The RE searchlight companies were so closely deployed with Royal Artillery anti-aircraft units, that it seemed sensible to transfer them to the RA (who already had some searchlight units, see 1938 above) and they re-badged in 1941(3) or Aug 1940.(2) In the latter part of WW2 some searchlight units were moved to mainland Europe to once again provide ground illumination.(3) That was known as "movement light" because it enabled troops and vehicles to move around at night without using their own lights.
1942-45 The introduction of radar resulted in less need for AA searchlights and the numbers of lights and units reduced each year.(2)
1945 The sole the use of searchlights had now become ground illumination.
1947 to 1960
Royal Artillery post-war ops.
See also "Gunner-days" page

Staines drill hall seen in 2013
Staines Drill Hall (Leacroft)
in 2013 used as a day centre
click photo for close-up
photo: Ed Woodroffe, 2013
1947 873 Movement Light Battery, RA formed on post-war re-organisation of the TA. Based at Staines, it had a war establishment of BHQ, three troops each with 8 lights, & REME workshops, total of 286 all-ranks.(15)
1957-60 searchlights were in use in Cyprus from June 57 to May 60, operated by a battery of 29 Fd Regt, RA. The regt provided "gunner support for the Middle East Reserve, the so-called 'Fire Brigade' - and a fully operational Internal Security Unit". The Regt left after cessation of conflict with EOKA.(5)
1958 873 Movement Light Battery, RA, moved to Twickenham, into hutted accommodation.(15)
1960 As the sole war-time use of searchlights in the army was ground illumination, which was not an artillery role, the two remaining RA searchlight batteries were disbanded and control passed back to the REs.
90cm on AEC Matador, Cyprus Snake Pit 1958
90cms? on AEC Matadors
Cyprus, "Snake Pit" 1958
(photo © David Carter)

1961 to 1976
Sappers take over ML again

convoy at low bridge
"Oh dear!"
convoy of 873's 4 tonners with generator trailers ("portees") at low bridge.
Germany, 1972 or 73?
(photo courtesy of Larry Hayward)

History of 873 Movement Light Squadron, R.E.

1961 Jan. Two independent TA sapper movement light squadrons formed, on paper - 863 in Lincolnshire and 873 in London, to take over battleground lighting duities from the RA.
Apr/May: 873 became operational (at Twickenham) having formed from the cadre (remnant) of 873 Movement Light Battery (The Middlesex Regiment) RA [see 1947 above].
Apr: Capt. Anderson and Capt Cooper re-badged from RA to RE
The lights were 90cm carbon-arcs, and the generators Lister JP4s, all of pre-war or WW2 vintage, inherited from the RA. Each light was mounted on a standard British Army 4-tonner 4x4 truck, the petrol engined Bedford RL which also towed the trailer-mounted generator.
1962 During the building of the M2 Medway Bridge, 873 provided illumination to enable crossing of the Southern Electric railway line on Saturday night/Sunday morning when the current was off.(15)
1966 October, 873's offer of lighting assistance at the Aberfan coal tip disaster was rejected.
1967 February: 873 assisted the US Army when ammunition was moved to the UK.  Following a request, 873 was in postion 200 miles from Acton In 6 hours, with 4 searchlights & a fully-manned command post.(15)
April: the TA was re-organised as T&AVR. 863 lost its searchlight role, and 873 was reduced to 72 all-ranks and moved to Acton.(15) It became not only the sole searchlight unit in the British Army, but also in NATO(3). The suffix (V) was added to its title to distinguish it from it's TA days (to be checked, contradictory info)
July/Aug (?) Camp, Thetford
Sept: Berlin Tattoo.
1968 July: civil emergency assistance in the West Country (Pensford bailey bridge)
August: camp at St. Athans, & Cardiff Tattoo
Sept: civil emergency assistance at Molesey floods.
Sept: Ulster Tattoo
1969 Camp: Otterburn. Tattoos: Colchester, Cheltenham, Suffolk (at Ipswich)
1970 Tattoos: Suffolk,
1971 Tattoos: Cheltenham, Colchester, Dover, Folkestone, Tidworth
1972 Camp: Germany ?
civil emergency assistance at Staines air crash (8)
1973 Camp: Germany ? Tattoos: Folkstone, Colchester
late 73/early 74? Two lights involved in a Regular Army "escape & evasion" exercise in Cheviot Hils(7)
1974 Sept: Camp at Penhale & Wessex Tattoo (Exeter). Other tattoos: Folkestone
873 comprised SHQ and one troop, seventy offices and other ranks in total. Eight lights - six 90cm carbon-arcs and two US 30-inch Xenons on test.(8)
1975 the squadron's independence ended when it was absorbed into 73 Engr Regt.
Tattoos: Cheltenham
a 90cm on Bedford RL with generator trailer
90cm on Bedford RL with Lister generator on trailer in 1975, with Sapper David Samuels.
(photo: ex-873 David Samuels, on Flickr)
1976 Camp: Penhale. Tattoos: Tidworth, Royal Tournament (4 lights)

Capt. R J Cooper
Capt Cooper was the heart of 873 for nearly 20 years. He retired from the Regular Army in 1958 as a Lt. in the RA, & put on the Reserve List of Officers.
In April 1961 he was promoted to Capt, rebadged to RE and posted to 873 as Admin Officer, a full-time "supernumery" TA officer.
His role was a kind of mixture of Adjt, Capt QM, and operations manager.
Apart from Annual Camp and some training weekends, he was often the only officer that those doing tattoos and movement light exercises on Salisbury Plain ever saw.
He was well-liked and much respected, and at some stage in later life was made an MBE
He finally retired in 1980.
[He probably served during WW2, maybe finishing as a WOII. - to be checked]

5 lister generators in  line
five Lister generators in line
but when & where?
(photo courtesy of Larry Hayward)
Update: Ian Tristram (873 1976-84) e-mailed in Sept 2012 to say this could be at Colchester, along the river below the arena in Castle Park.
1977 to 1990
873 and US Xenons
and some carbon-arcs ?

un-modified xenon with LWB Land-Rover
un-modified US Xenons.
Above with LWB Land Rover in gloss green paint, on exercise
on Salisbury Plain, May 1979.
Below with LWB Land Rover in camoflague paint, on parade
in Colchester, 1981 or 82
Note, no mudguards or no. plate
un-modified xenon with LWB Land-Rover
(photos courtesy Larry Hayward)

This 1984 LWB Land-Rover was
86 KA 32 when it towed Xenons.
Note side-lockers behind doors(10)
(Norman Wood, JerseyMilitia)
Later note, 2022:
According to Merlin Archive(22) this series 3 was taken into service in Nov 1982 but no unit details shown. In Mar 1984 it was with 7 RHA, in July 91 with ADT, and later with 4Regt RA RHQ/94(NZ) Bty. It went out of service in Sept 1993
1977 873 "re-equipped with American 30" Xenons"(3)

These were AN/TVS-3 lights, the type used by the US Army in Vietnam in the late 60s. By the late 70s the US began phasing out battlefield searchlights(6) and presumably the British Army took some of redundant lights.

These were also arc lights, but with tungsten electrodes enclosed in a fused quartz bulb containing xenon gas under pressure - and with a lot of very high tech wizardry. The Xenons were 30" (76cm), smaller than the carbon arcs, but more than twice as powerful rated at 800 million candlepower. Owing to the extreme heat generated by the arc they were cooled with glycol as well as air.

They were mounted on lightweight 2-wheel trailers also US made towed by ¾-ton long-wheelbase Land-Rovers which carried a powerful 25kVA generator driven via a power take-off from the L-R's engine.(3, 14) The trailer with light weighed under 700 kgs and was 6½ft high.(6) The combination of small truck and light trailer made deployment much easier than with an RL 4-tonner and heavy trailer.

The lights were towed face down and covered - except on very special  occasions to show one off, see left.
The trailer chassis were modified in 1982 (see below) to proper UK standard including adding mudguards & no. plate, see photos on right.

Later Land-Rovers had side lockers behind doors(10) - see photo on leftt

1977-85 After the introduction of the US Xenons, some of the old carbon-arcs lights were retained for ceremonial use at events at Wembley Stadium, Horse Guards Parade and Buckingham Palace till about 1985.(9)
1979 Wembley - Extravaganza/Military Musical Pageant. Six 90cm carbon arcs on duty.
Germany - Movement Light exercise
1980 May. Ten 30-inch Xenons received from JSCS Ashchurch with modified trailers including mudguards, lights and reg plates numbered 00TE03 to 00TE12(22). See photo on right.
I understand these were the 1977 issued lights brought up to UK spec.(20)
Sept, Annual Camp, ex Crusader, Germany
Oct: Capt. R J Cooper, MBE, retired 27th Oct
873's 40th Anniversary
Looking a little uncomfortable or maybe a bit emotional (and probably unaccustomed to dress uniform) Capt Dick Cooper was presented with a silver(?) model of a 90 cm carbon-arch searchlight. (photo on right)
(sadly he died less than two years later - see Obit )
(photos: ex-873 Clive Wierzbicki, via Geraldine Wierzbicki)
1981 Germany
1982 Germany (Ex Quarter-Final?)
1983 Annual Camp: Weymouth
Germany - Movement Light exercise, One troop of 4 Xenons
1987 873's 40th Anniversary
873 Movement Light was formed in 1947 as a Royal Artillery Battery, and re-formed in 1961 as a Royal Engineers Squadron
(photo: ex-873 Clive Wierzbicki, via Geraldine Wierzbicki)
1988 The Squadron became affiliated to one of the City of London's ancient Guilds,the Worshipful Company of Lightmongers, and a luncheon to commemorate this was held at Tallow Chandlers Hall on the 20th April 1988. The then Master [of the Guild] Mr. Walter Balmford presented the formal Affiliation Document to the Honorary Colonel of 873 Movement Light Squadron, Major General P.C. Shapland. CBE. MBE.

1980s Sqn shield
new lights and a new wall plaque
photo courtesy Mark Osborne

a 30inch Xenon light in Germany, 1983
modified xenon 00 TE 05 in 1983
on exercise with 873 in Germany.
Nine yrs later this high-tech light
 was a museum piece
(photo courtesy Larry Hayward)

a 30inch Xenon light at the RE Museum, Gillingham
US Xenon at the RE Museum
(photo: by "gberg2007" on Flickr)

873's 40th Anniversary
1990 to 1993
873 & British Francis Xenons

1993 to date
units come and go, but the Francis' remain. Well, some.

Francis xenons
Francis Xenon lights, 1991
(courtesy Francis Searchlight Co)

Francis xenon at show
Francis xenon at show
Francis Xenon at army show
(photos courtesy Larry Hayward)

1989 In December, 873 "unveiled its new British-built Francis 7kw searchlights at a charity event organised by the Worshipful Company of Lightmongers .... 1 million candlepower and a range of 10km".(11)
1991 Eight Francis FX710 7kW 620cm xenon lights had now replaced the US xenons. According to the manufacturers, who called them "Army Moonrakers" (part of their "Extravaganza" range of sand-and-dust-proof lights), they had been intended for use in Iraq but the war ended before they could be deployed there.(12) [The 1st "Gulf War" ended abruptly at the end of February after only 44 days]. Each was mounted at the rear of the body of a 4x4 4-tonner as were the old carbon-arcs. The generators were fitted by Hunting Engineering at the front of the body. The gennys and lights were white, the truck desert sand colour

873 ran a series of intensive battlefield illumination and searchlight operators' courses for 1 (British) Corps Lighting Troop ['CLT'] being deployed to the Gulf.(16) (CLT seems to have been in existence for years, equipped with lots of generators (and presumably some lighting equipment, but presumably not searchlights) According to an internet forum CLT later became Power Troop RE, part of ARRC Sp Bn and moved to JHQ Rhiendahlen until at least 2005(17))

On the right, the upper night photo shows the front of 04KH94 with an "AWD" maker's badge so it's a post-1987 version of the ubiquitous Bedford MJ. It is left-hand drive and painted light sand or stone.
Later note, Jan 2022: shown on Merlin Archive(22) as a Bedford MJ taken into service in Feb 1989 and in service with 873 in May 1992.

The lower night photo was on exercise during an 873 annual camp. Note here the generator has been removed from the truck and now trailer mounted. Anyone know why the change? (Please email if you know)

On left is a Francis mounted on a right hand drive truck painted in standard green/black camoflague, at an army show somewhere. Impossible to tell if truck is AWD or Bedford.

At this time 873 consisted of two troops, each with four lights.(3) Each light and generator set were operated by a crew of three(3), again much like the carbon-arcs, but whereas the Bedford RL cab had seating for only two, all three could sit in the AWD cab.
1991 Tattoo in Gibraltar to mark the leaving of the resident battalion, the Green Jackets. (thanks to Tony Storey, a REME attachment from RHQ)
1993 In March, 873 was dis-banded and operations transferred to a new unit - 220 (Searchlight) Fd Sqn (EOD) RE at Heston, part of 101 (EOD) Engr Regt.(13)  There, SL operation was additional to the normal sapper role.
1994 March. 2x30inch Xenons 00TE03 and 00TE05 in service at 220 Sqn
1999 220 Sqn disbanded.(13) One source said the British Army decided that searchlights had no role in the 21st century army, another that the lights were transferred to the Royal Monmouthshire REs and to 71 Engineer Regt.

Francis xenons convoy of mixed Xenons, 2 truck-mounted Francis at front, 2 trailer mounted AN/TVS ones behind
(photo: courtesy Mark Osborne)

Francis xenons
Francis Xenon on AWD truck,1991
(courtesy Francis Searchlight Co)

Francis xenons Francis light during 873 annual camp ex. Operator L/Cpl Hood, No.2 with camera Ossie Osborne
Note genny is trailer-mouned.
Previous photos truck mounted
(photo: courtesy Mark Osborne)

Francis xenons during "The Pipers Trail", 2008
Genny appears to be on trailer.
(photo: anon)
2008 71 Engineer Regt (V) still operating two Francis xenon searchlights in Scotland. They were used on 'The Pipers Trail' exercise as part of Saltire backdrops in the sky in June & July. Also used to illuminate hillsides to aid mountain rescue or other similar emergencies etc.(14)

I don't know if these are exactly the same FX710 lights as in earlier photos - the cradle looks a bit different.   Photo on left shows trailer generator.

I wonder what happened to the other six?
2011 At least one Francis still operational (recently serviced by the Francis Searchlight Company(12)), possibly both.

If you can add to or correct any of the above, please e-mail me. Thanks.

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Life after death
redundant carbon-arcs live on

a restored British Army 150cm light operated by The Garrison WW2 RA re-enactment group
re-enactment with the 150cm
(photo: The Garrison)

Some redundant searchlights

Many of the old carbon-arc lights, especially the 90cm ones, have survived in civvy-street. There are static displays of 90cm lights at Fort Nelson at Fareham nr Portsmouth; Eden Camp at Malton in Nth Yorks; at the Aldershot Military Museum; and four at the Muckleburgh Collection in North Norfolk. The RE Museum has a Xenon light.

There are also occasional working displays given by WW2 re-enactment groups such as Ack-Ack Living History which has a 90cm, and The Garrison which has a 150cm (possibly the only working one in the UK?). You could even join and operate one yourself.

Links to all these museums and groups are at bottom left of page.

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a restored British Army 90cm light operated by the Ack-Ack Living History group
re-enactment with 90cm light
(photo: Ack-Ack Living History)

873 doing non-searchlight Sapper work

To many searchlight operators of the 60s and 70s, it may come as a surprise to learn that from the late 70s, after the Squadron joined 73 Engr Regt, it took on many conventional Sapper tasks in addition to its unique lighting role.

  This is just one example. 873 doing explosives
Photo: courtesy of Mark 'Ossie' Osborne, 873, 1988-91
Left to right: Paul Mayle; Lt. Tom Hayes; Mark Osborne using a SHRIKE exploder; Gary looking on.
(My thanks to Mario Caves, who was on the ranges that day, for his email Jan 2019 supplying Lt Hayes name.)
Shrike exploder
a Mk V Shrike exploder
hall-front in earlier days
Above in unknown earlier days with low railings.
Below, site shown on large-scale OS map dated 1947-1964 map of site c1967
Here named Artillery House, later becoming Engineer House (1967?)
(Map courtesy National Library of Scotland)

 Drill Hall and yard /TA Centre, Horn Lane, Acton, London W3

drill-hall front in 1990
Photo: by Rich Walters in Apr 1990 posted on www.doctowholocations.net

I know little of the Hall's history and can't remember much about the site during my time with 873 in the late 60s. The 2008 book "Stepping Forward" and subsequent website steppingforwardlondon.org show the site occupied in 1914 by the Middlesex Yeomany and in 1938 by an AA Artillery unit. (The photo in left column is also from that site which has details of all reserve units and drill halls in London from 1914-2014 & much else).

I don't when it was built. We do know from our own records that 873 moved here in 1967 and remained until disbanded in 1993. The site was sold c1999 and the Hall demolished c2001 to make way for a gated housing development (photo and map on right).
An old house named Grasgarth next to the yard gates in Creswick Road and behind and to the left of the Hall has been converted to flats. Was this used by the TA or Cadets? It can be seen extreme left of photos in left and right columns.
A new single storey building for an army Cadet unit, 202 Acton Det ACF (RE) was erected in Creswick Rd just beyond Grasgarth, possbly as part of the housing development. In 2016 the Chf Royal Engr inspected the unit.
housing on site of demolished hall c2007
Housing replaced Hall c 2007? Grasgarth House on left.
Below, modern 'OpenTopoMap' shows new housing
map of site c2007
entry into the housing is via Grasgarth Close where the yard gates were.

873 shield
Above is a wall plaque used during "carbon-arc" days,
replaced by those below
1980s Sqn shield
a new design for the "new" lights introduced in 1977
photo courtesy Mark Osborne

1980s Sqn shield
and this is the "last issue"
photo courtesy Colm (Mouldy) Mulholland

The messes (bars)

The social hubs of any TA drill hall are the messses. Officers and SNCOs usually have their own, but it was the ORs mess that the majority of contributors to this site would have gathered in before an evening parade, and later enjoyed an hour or so after "dismissal" or on return from a weekend exercise, having a drink, swapping gossip and gags, and playing a few games.

873 shield
Photo: courtesy of Mark 'Ossie' Osborne, 873, 1988-91

Webmaster: this looks as though someone's just blown-wind and everyone else is trying to ignore it.

In fact Mark tells me it's: left to right, Paul ("the mole") Mayle (in glases); L/Cpl Nigel Hood ("Hoody"); L/Cpl Stickley and L/Cpl "Killer" Fernadez, with "Taff" Curtiss in background.
Ed Woodroffe remembers a display of old photos in a glass case at the top of the stairs.
Also, somewhere, a model of a 90cm carbon arc made in the 60s (?) by some REME members of 873.
Anyone remember them or know what happed to them?
  But it wasn't all fun and games and farting about. We did have a job to do.
yard in 1983
Photo: courtesy of Larry Hayward, ex-873, 197x-8x
Here, One Troop is lined up in the yard at Acton facing the gates (behind camera) into Creswick Road before setting off to Germany in 1983. The Drill Hall is to the right facing on to Horn Lane and the houses in background are in Julian Ave.
Larry has kindly provided very many more photos of the "US xenon days" and exercises in the UK and Germany 1979, Germany 1982 and Germany 1983.

Use by BBC as rehearsal studio

TA Drill Halls were expensive to maintain, and were often hired out, although I doubt the units benefitted from the rent. Many near the BBC TV studios in West London were used by BBC TV for rehearsals, particularly during the 60s and 70s. The ORs mess room and bar usually played a role then too, providing a service to its 'guests' and that certainly did provide income for the unit and/or its ORs mess funds. Ours was no exception.

Bob Richardson wonders if anyone else recalls that it was used for rehearsing "Z Cars" in 1969 and that the Drill Hall hall floor often had white tape on it indicating positions of imaginary walls, doorways, etc, and he remembers seeing some of the cast in the mess including James Ellis (who played desk Sgt Bert Lynch), Douglas Fielding (PC Quilley), and John Slater (DS Stone).
Liz Fraser in 1969
Liz Fraser in 1969 aged 36.
Peter Cox worked in Horn Lane in the late 60s, and often went to the Drill Hall during his lunch hour when rehearsals were on. He remembers playing table-football with some of the cast and admin people of Z Cars and that no matter who he was paired with he was always on the losing side. James Ellis and John Slater were a good team and usually won.

Peter also remembers Liz Fraser being there once but not which programme or film, but it wasn't Z-Cars. There was quite a few crew so it was more than just a read through. "One of the group I'd been talking to told her I was 'one of the soldiers with the big lights' and she came over and chatted for a while. She was just as bubbly off screen as on."

Which is a good excuse for adding a little glamour to this website.

  Ed Woodroffe also remembers as a boy seeing rehearsals of Z-cars with wooden car-interiors in the hall, and that Frank Windsor, Derek Waring, Stratford Johns and Brian Blessed were often in the bar.

He also remembers the Hall was used for Softly Softly and Dr Who, and recalls seeing a Tardis and being very disappointed that it was so flimsy, and a row of Daleks and Cyber-men.

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Notes and Information Sources

(1) early history of searchlights: ancientskyscraper.com
(2) Keith Brigstock of the RA Historical Society (presentation at winter meeting, 17th Jan, 2007)
(3) RE Museum
(4) anti-aircraft website
(5) David Carter: Britain's Small Wars - Cyprus
(6) Harpoon HQ (wargame enthusiasts)
(7) Bob Richardson (ex 873 SL op)
(8) Sunday Telegraph report by RH Greenfield, 4th Aug 1974. (Clipping courtesy of Bob Richardson)
(9) post on Historic Military Vehicles Forum (HMVF) by L/Cpl Larry Hayward)
(10) http://www.jerseymilitia.co.uk/lr109.html
(11) Soldier magazine Dec 11, 1989 (clipping courtesy of Bob Richardson)
(12) Francis Searchlights Ltd
(13) Corp of RE Volunteer Regiments, 1967-2000
(14) post on Historic Military Vehicles Forum (HMVF) by "Gazzaw"
(15) TAVR Magazine, March 1969 (clipping courtesy Bob Richardson)
(16) from "Territorials - A Century of Service" by I.W.F.Beckett, published 2008 (via Bob Richardson)
(17) British Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)
(18) London Gazette issue 48606 page 6636
(19) (Dr) Wienand Drench.
(20) Larry Hayward (ex 873 L/Cpl)
(21) Ed Woodroffe (son of Jack Woodroofe, one-time 873 SSM)
(22) Merlin Archive (https://merlinarchive.uk)

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Main contributors

All sources are acknowledged where known.
Copyright remains with the original source.

Historical details are mostly from on-line sources which are not necessarally the original ones.

back to top of page page created Jan 2011 last edited/amended 10 January 2023 please e-mail me