The Club for Professional Engineers and Scientists in and around Hertfordshire

Copyright 2018 HELC

15 February 2018

Bugging the Nazis

Dr Helen Fry

During WW2, British Intelligence bugged the conversations of over 10,000 German Prisoners-of-War at three clandestine stately houses. Trent Park was reserved for Hitler’s Generals and in an astonishing turn of events, they were housed in luxurious conditions in what turned out to be one of the greatest deceptions of the wartime. Lulled into a false sense of security, the Generals relaxed and became unguarded in their conversations. They inadvertently began to give some of Hitler’s most closely guarded secrets, including discussions about the V1 (‘doodlebug’), V2 and the German atomic bomb programme. For over 60 years the secret listeners (German-Jewish émigrés who had fled Hitler) who bugged the conversations, never spoke about their work, not even to their families. They died, little knowing that they, alongside Bletchley Park, shortened the war by up to 4 years. Historian Dr Helen Fry sheds light on one of the little-known, but greatest deception of WW2.

15 March 2018

A Day in the Life of a Thames Tug

Roger Thomas

A close look at the work done by the Cory tug General VIII, which is one of a fleet of seven vessels engaged in the movement of refuse lighters for the Western Riverside Waste Authority. The talk features a voyage from Wandsworth to the aptly named Mucking in Essex. It gives an insight into one of the remaining commercial operations on the tidal Thames, and how this has changed since the closure of the dumping ground at Mucking in 2010.


The lunches are held on the third Thursday of each month at 11.30 for 12.30 in the Homestead Court Hotel in Welwyn Garden City.  Dress is normally smart casual with a jacket and tie for the men. Expect to get away by 3pm.  The three course lunch with coffee costs £22 and includes a starter, meat main course, and a sweet and coffee.  An alternative main course “chef’s selection of fish”, may be pre-booked when registering for the lunch.

On arrival for lunch members check in by the hotel reception.  Those who have pre-booked fish are asked to collect a ‘Fish’ card which they should display on their lunch table to assist the waitresses.  A cash bar is open for drinks before, and with the meal.  

Lunches must be booked no later than the Friday of the week before the lunch.  Details of the lunches, along with the necessary booking forms are included in the Newsletter.  

Any Member who is unable to attend after booking is responsible for the cost unless a cancellation is notified by the Friday previous to the booked lunch.

Some individual members reserve seats for themselves and their guests by placing cards on the tables. Whilst this has disadvantages and is less than ideal, nobody has yet come up with a more acceptable idea!



Title of Talk


19 April 2018

Our Dynamic Planet - Volcanos & Earthquakes

Prof Tony Hurford

17 May 2018

River Kwai Railway - The True Story

Paul Whittle

21 June 2018

My Time in The Metropolitan Police

Carl Storer

19 July 2018

Titanic - Engineering Triumph to Human Tragedy

Graham Anthony