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Name: Gordon Jefferson
 
Transcript: 13 - Sydney Camm and meetings
 
 

As Gordon here relates, Sydney Camm may have been an aeronautical engineer of genius but was not at all in his element when it came to negotiating with government. He needed others – like Gordon – to help him in meetings.

What was Sydney Camm's general attitude to working with... [The Ministry]

He was a bit – quite kind of amusing really, because I remember on one occasion at Dunsfold. We'd got the Ministry in there, it was a 'Mods' meeting and we were selling them...

A ‘Mods’ meeting?

Modifications

Ah, right.

And the Ministry used to pay for the modifications. If we could convince the Ministry that this aeroplane had to have this modification to make it do the job properly after it had been accepted and this was a development. Then we had to give a - make a case for a 'mod' - and of course there was a charge.

And I remember sitting at Dunsfold in the office one day and we had quite - there must have been at least fifteen people all together discussing this, all. It was a regular monthly meeting. And strangely enough all of a sudden the door opened and Sir Sydney Camm walked in and he sat next to me and he said, 'What's it all about?'  And I said something like, 'Well we are selling them this modification’, and explained very quickly what the ‘mod’ was about and he just turned round and just said, 'Well give it to them then.'

And of course we couldn't give it to them we needed the money. And I had to say to Sir Sydney, 'I'm sorry but we've got to be paid for it,' and he didn't seem to like that. And anyway, he didn't kick up too big a fuss. And I said to him later on, I said, 'I know you won't like it Sir, but it's absolutely vital that if we make a change we get rewarded. And he said sort of said, ‘well rubbish’. He wasn't in any way attuned to that aspect of the business.

He wasn't a ‘meetings person’.

He wasn't a meetings person at all, no. And I never went to a meeting where he in fact was involved in doing anything because he avoided it at all costs. He gave the job to other people like myself.