James E Sugden

Hello, this is my web site, where I can publish a few details about myself. I was born in July 1936 in Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire. I spent the war years at Blackpool with my Mother and Grandmother but returned to Cleckheaton in 1944. At the age of ten I went to Whitcliffe Mount Grammar School and left in 1953 to attend EMI Institutes (later called The EMI College of Electronics) where I took my degree (2nd Class Honours) in Physics and Mathematics together with the City and Guilds Full Technological Certificate in Telecommunications Engineering. In common with the other students on this course I had two periods of "Factory Attachment" at EMI's establishments in Hayes and Feltham. In 1957 I started full time work with EMI as a Junior Engineer.

25th Pearson Lecturer, March 1969

"The Gramophone,

Where Art and Science meet"

First I was working on weapons at Feltham but I was then lent, which became permanent, to Broadcast Equipment Division at Hayes. I worked mainly on sound systems for the television studios of the independent broadcasters. I had been "officially" on the Scientific and Technical Register deferring me from National Service, although I had joined the R.N.V.R. such that I could join the Navy should the deferment end.


While I had been at "college" I had met the most wonderful girl in the world, Margaret Davies, at a "College Hop" and we married on the 31st March 1959. We set up "home" in a furnished flat, overlooking the cricket field, at Ealing. It cost an amazing four guineas a week! We spent all but the first two days of our honeymoon in Perth Royal Infirmary after the hired Ford Consul with a bald tyre had caused me to plough down 80 yards of dry stone wall in Auchterarder.


National Service ended on the 31st December 1960 and I waved goodbye to EMI on Christmas Eve ready to start as a project engineer for Granada Television on January 2nd. We were staying with my parents in Cleckheaton (They never left their original home which they had rented in 1930 and indeed, Mother only left in 1998 when she could no longer look after herself after her last and disastrous stroke) and on December 27th we took the train to Manchester to find a flat. It was depressing. The best we could come up with was half a semi for £6 a week or a horrid flat with a corridor kitchen for £4 a week in Moss Side. We decided it would be cheaper and better to buy!


As luck would have it, the following morning the new Trans-Pennine diesel train service was announced. I could stay in Yorkshire, at Huddersfield, and commute to Manchester!

So, instead of trailing off to Manchester we went to Huddersfield. I was after an old house with large rooms but we had been advised to go for something standard in the first place and we came across a rather nice semi on a small development half way up Castle Hill. The roads curved, not criss-cross at right angles like they had been in Hayes where a work colleague had recently bought a house. It had cost him £4000. This one was £1850. My salary at Granada was around £1100 and that, in those days, was loot! It was said that the independent television companies had been granted a licence to print money but fortunately they also believed in sharing it with their employees!


For some years I had been working in my spare time on designing scientific instruments associated with Nuclear Research. A fellow student from EMI College days was “Sales” and I was “Development”. We had started to get orders and at Easter after I had completed my first project, a presentation/continuity studio for Granada, I went to see the Chief Engineer and told him the situation. I don’t think he was well pleased but he saw the point and I was allowed to leave on short notice and we parted on good terms – indeed we got some construction work from Granada in the early days which helped enormously.


The “shop” was a back room at my Father’s printing works. He and his Father and his Grandfather had all been Master Printers. After a year or so we acquired part of a large house which had been offices for the Purchase Tax Man and the “Min. of Pen. and Nat. Ins.” We were allowed “Change of Use” to “Light Industrial”.

1965 saw the birth of my first son, Edward. It was time for the “large house”. Luckily one came up fairly quickly. An old friend of the family had built himself a new bungalow and his four square, 3 reception, five bedroom “Gentleman’s Residence” was on the market for £4000. It ended up costing another £400 for the garage which they had wanted to keep for next door, which they let to one of their employees. There followed a big rewiring, plumbing and ripping all the fireplaces out job but we got it the way we wanted it. It would be 38 years before we moved again.



There soon followed “trouble at t’mill”. My business partner had inherited his father’s business and was there a lot while I was spending a lot of time on the house – we didn’t see eye to eye at all! We separated, but only into two separate companies, each doing what we had been doing before, me making, him selling. The arrangement lasted quite some time until the other chap went bust pursuing his other business interest - a passion for manufacturing electronic organs. I had also started J. E. Sugden & Co. Ltd. In order to pursue my interests in making hi-fi amplifiers and test equipment. We went through some lean years and my offspring were increasing. Next was Robert in 1967 and then Peter and Catherine, twins, in 1969. In 1970 I caused interest in using Class “A” with transistor power amplifiers and everything started to go well. By the mid seventies I no longer owed money, the product was (still is) highly respected, and I was enjoying a pleasant, though hard working, lifestyle. Indeed, I was able to buy myself a motor yacht! That was the start of a long association with boats.

Good as life was my reputation relied on good reviews of the product by little boys, reviewers, scribbling in the Hi-Fi magazines. I was also getting fed up of the Socialist Government's passion for needless red-tape. I sold up, went to Leeds University for a year to do a Post Graduate Education Certificate and then started to teach Mathematics at the local Comprehensive. Four years later I transferred to a super job - Mathematics and Computer Studies at a private girls' school!



J E Sugden product range in 1979

By now I had sold the motor yacht, bought a 29 foot sloop while I fitted out a 42 foot ketch in the garden, launched it and was enjoying sailing it. In 1985 having crossed to the Netherlands Delta area I talked to an Englishman and asked him "where do you keep your boat?" - like you do - and he answered "Just a bit further up this lake!". This was at the Delta Marina. It was cheaper than Hull Marina, where we were, and the Harbour Master spoke English. You can get back to base, in The Netherlands, via the inland "standing mast route" and even at sea there is a harbour about every twenty miles from the Ems in Germany to the North French coast. With the long holidays at the new job and the thought that no longer would it be necessary to start thinking about returning home a fortnight early while we had a weather window the decision made itself. I telephoned Robert and asked him to bring the car! We got ourselves a good berth at Delta Marina.

There followed five good years of working at the new job and sailing in and from The Netherlands but in 1990 I suffered intense pain in my back and left arm, accompanied by twitching muscles and the diagnosis was a mashed disk in my neck with nerve root entrapment. I was duly operated on in September - vertebrae C5 and C6 joined together via a piece of cow bone! Even afterwards the pain was severe thus I applied


Katy Vee

for and was granted early medical retirement. Looking upwards and hauling on haliards was no longer an option thus the ketch was put up for sale and and a steel canal boat commissioned from a Yorkshire boat builder. "Yorkshire Maid" was finished in August 1991 and immediately exported to The Netherlands. Via my amateur radio contacts I had found a new little harbour at De Heen in the South West. It had easy access to the canal system and Antwerp could easily be reached in under a day. The boat had been exported VAT free and provided we left the country once a year, even if only for a day, the Dutch system allowed me to remain VAT free. The E.U. upset this arrangement later and VAT had to be paid in whatever country the boat was based. It did mean, however, that it was only paid on the second hand value and not the new.

Life was idyllic. We would travel out in April to paint, repair, overhaul, etc. And then spend the entire summer from the beginning of June until the end of September wandering about. We stayed mainly in The Netherlands but also visited Northern Germany, Northern France and most of Belgium. We would return home for four weeks or so in the middle to see both our mothers. Both of our fathers had passed away but the ladies were happily with us even if getting   frail.       Margaret's   mum   had


Yorkshire Maid and Margaret in 1992 at Schoten, just outside Antwerp

Parkinson's disease and mine and had had some minor strokes. Sadly they both died in the winter of 1999/2000. Before we ourselves were too old we decided that in 2000 we would stay away the entire summer and take the boat to Paris. We journeyed through Antwerp, Brussels, Charleois, up the River Sambre, down the Oise, up the Seine, up the Marne, the Ardennes canal and the Meuse back into The Netherlands. We had quiet times and exciting times. Too exciting was the starter motor engaging itself going up the Marne and clouds of black smoke coming from the engine compartment! (click here) We even left Paris for a day on Eurostar and went to Ashford where Peter, our youngest son met us and took us to his Kent home to meet his days old first child - daughter Emily.



Approaching Paris

We had one more big journey in 2002 - "Second Time Around" -  but this time we did not visit Paris. Instead we still visited Champagne country but went further up the Marne to Vitry-le Francois, went through the Mauverge tunnel (never again!) and came back from much further up the Meuse where we visited Verdun.




2003 was a major turning point. A chance conversation with daughter Catherine caused me to have Brooklyn valued. It far exceded my expectations and we put it up for sale and looked for a geriatric bungalow - i.e. Minimum maintenance, plastic everything. Peter, who had done some work for Anglian Water suggested looking at Lincolnshire. Even with the greater than expected value of Brooklyn we could not get the sort of modern bungalow, for which I was looking at the price in Yorkshire. Then we found it at Hibaldstow. The mayor elect was downsizing. It ticked every box: affordable, four bedrooms (us, in the en-suite complete with bidet, children, their children and a room for Margaret, she had had her "sewing room" at Brooklyn), huge lounge, decent sized dining room, my office, well fitted kitchen, walk-in pantry and a laundry room with facities for two machines and a stainless steel sink and a WC for quick access from the garden. The garden was not too big. This had been a problem at Brooklyn, we had had three quarters of an acre with many trees. I am definitely not a gardener, Margaret is but it was now too much work for her.


Today's bungalow

Playing amateur radio

The sale of Brooklyn and the purchase and move to Lincolnshire are an epic tale in themselves (click here). We spent the early part of the summer of 2003, on the boat, in the Brielsemeer in The Netherlands as it was close to base and we could get back quickly. The scheduled completion and moving day was July 18th but in the event we moved out of Cleckheaton on the 18th but into Hibaldstow on the 25th. After  a short while we returned to the boat. I fell on the jetty and started to feel very mortal. A Dutchman at the harbour had apparantly been lusting after my boat for some time - it was a most practical boat to live in with many "mod-cons". Thus came another major change. I offered it to him at a good price if we could complete by the end of the year and I could avoid another year's harbour fee. Thus "Yorkshire Maid" was sold (early in January) and we settled down to our new life in Lincolnshire.



Margaret had been a magistrate and transferred from the Dewsbury Bench to the Scunthorpe one. She joined Elsham Golf Club (Tony Jacklin's old club). We both joined the local Short Mat Bowling Club, as home events took place in the Village Hall, which is less than a ten minute walk away. I set up my computing and sound equipment in my study to continue my hobby of putting my vinyl collection onto CD. I eventually also installed and extended my amateur radio equipment. The AV corner in the lounge continues to grow and grow.

Then there was what to do about holidays? Since 1977 all holidays had been on a boat! We thought that we would try a gite in Champagne country. We had found that part of France most agreable the two times when we travelled through it in the boat and thought we would like to go back. We have now spent nine gite holidays there and thoroughly enjoyed it. We could not get totally away from boats, however and have enjoyed two Saga cruises and one fortnight's hire of a Broads Cruiser. We have entered more into village life, Margaret is very involved with the church including the bell ringers and also the Mothers' Union and the PCC. I did stints as Church Hall Treasurer and also three years as Secretary of  the short  mat Bowls Club with a year  as


Busy working on a vinyl to CD transfer,

removing the clicks and plops

Secretary and Fixtures Secretary of the North Lincs Short Mat Bowling League, none of which were good experiences. I have also taken to summer bowling on grass and winter bowling, "long mat", indoors. I find indoor bowling the purest form of the game as the surface is true and it's up to you to get the line and weight correct! In 2009 and 2010 along with Margaret and another club member I won the North Lincs Short Mat Triples Championship and in 2011 I won the North Lincs Short Mat Singles Championship.

So, here we are, not getting any younger but we celebrated our Golden Wedding in 2009. All the children and grandchildren were there so it was quite a good re-union. Sometimes we get bad news, yet another school friend of our youth has passed away, other times we hear from or meet long lost friends and can have pleasant reminiscences.


Life has treated us very well. There have been ups and downs, easy times and difficult times but we are now able to enjoy a comfortable old age among pleasant friends and neighbours. We also have several bowling trophies on the sideboard!


Cutting the cake at our

Golden Wedding