Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Robert James Clayton

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Robert James Clayton (1915-1998), electronics engineer

1915 Born in Fulham, London, only son of Frank Clayton, wine merchant's assistant, and his wife, Flora, née Gilibanks. His father died at an early age.

Gained a scholarship at Christ's College, Cambridge, specializing in physics, which was to become the foundation of his career.

1937 Joined the GEC research laboratories, at that time one of the leading industrial research centres, to work on the company's new television receivers.

WWII The GEC laboratories became a centre for radar development. Clayton worked on airborne radar equipment

1949 Married Joy Kathleen King; they lived at Stanmore.

1950 GEC won the contract to implement the first link of the BBC's television service to another transmitter, at Birmingham. This was based on Clayton's advanced proposal for a microwave radio relay, for which he engaged support from the rest of the laboratories to help deliver the link on time.

1955 Clayton was asked to establish GEC's new applied electronics laboratories at Stanmore, to create a defence electronics capability, initially centred on developing missile guidance systems for the Royal Navy.

1961 Awarded an OBE

By 1963 all the diverse GEC activities in electronics were brought together with Clayton as managing director of GEC (Electronics).

1968 Weinstock appointed Clayton as technical director of the enlarged GEC. Clayton gradually turned his attention from streamlining the overlapping activities of the acquired companies to future ventures. However, Weinstock's growing financial caution was a limiting factor.

1970 Conferred CBE

1975-6 President of the IEE

1978 Clayton joined the main board, after which he acted mainly in an advisory role and as the technical presence of GEC on major issues

1980 Awarded a knighthood

1982 President of the Institute of Physics

1983 Retired from GEC.

Member of the Advisory Council for Research and Development; served on committees of the National Enterprise Board, the British Library and many other bodies

1998 Died at Northwick Park Hospital.

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