Ray Herbert

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Interview Date(s): 
28 Apr 1999
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Ray Herbert, C.Eng. (1918-2005)
an appreciation by Malcolm Baird

During Ray's years of active retirement he became a leading historian of the life and work of John Logie Baird. He was uniquely qualified for this through his early experience with Baird Television Ltd. and his network of contacts with former Baird employees. Geographically he lived within a short journey of the places where Baird had worked such as Hastings, Soho, Sydenham and the Crystal Palace. 

I first met Ray in 1985 while on a sabbatical leave from my academic post in Canada. Until then I had been aware of my father's contributions in an overall sense, but pressures of time were keeping me from learning much of the fine detail. That first meeting with Ray encouraged me to undergo further education. We were both professional engineers and had the same "no-nonsense" approach, with all pieces of information traced to their sources, cross-checked and linked as far as possible to form a coherent story. His outstanding contribution to television history was his book "Seeing by Wireless"(1997). In 2001 he was of immense help to Antony Kamm and me in compiling our book "John Logie Baird - a life". He played a major part in organising the special transmission of mechanically scanned television across the Atlantic on short wave in February 2003, marking the 75th anniversary of the first transatlantic television signal. 

Television history is not always free of arguments, sometimes bitter, but I will always remember Ray's friendship. Several times I visited his home in Sanderstead and he and Helena treated me with the utmost hospitality and consideration, realising that I needed a peaceful break in my hectic visiting schedule. Ray's passing has been a major blow to his fellow television historians, but his memory lives on as sound and video recordings, innumerable articles, and his excellent book "Seeing by Wireless".