Leslie H. Bedford

Leslie H. Bedford
Associated organizations
English Electric Company
Fields of study
IEEE Award in International Communication


Leslie Herbert Bedford, born in 1900, is the sole "scientist" member of an exclusively musical family. His mother, the composer Liza Lehmann, was well known in America especially by reason of her extensive and successful tours. Two generations down from this we find his youngest son, Steuart, conducting Britten's "Death in Venice" at the "Met." Father, wife, and two other sons, all musicians.

During a normal school education the scientific/mathematical bent came out strongly in evidence and this resulted in his enrollment at the City and Guilds Engineering College in London, England, where he received the B.S. degrees in Engineering and Science. After being granted the B.A. and M.A. degrees from Cambridge University, Leslie (as he is universally known) joined the Western Electric Company (now Standard Telephone and Cables, Ltd.) as a student and shortly after was employed as a vacuum tube engineer. Following a brief training course at Bell Laboratories in the United States he returned to England and became responsible for Vacuum Tube Engineering, including the Development Laboratory.

In 1931 Leslie joined A.C. Cossor Ltd., to initiate their development and manufacture of cathode ray tubes, and in 1932 he commenced experiments in cathode ray tube television jointly with O.S. Puckle. However, in 1937 he was asked to head the company's circuit engineering (development and research).

Just prior to World War II Mr. Bedford was head of the department engaged in the development of radar receiver projects (gun-laying) during which time he produced an elevation finding device known as the "Bedford attachment". He later became Director of Research at Cossors, all activities being Government sponsored and mostly concerned with radar.

After the War Leslie's activities were directed towards the resumption of television receiver manufacture and to the development of an X band marine radar set.

In 1947 Leslie joined the English Electric Company as Chief Television Engineer for the Marconi Company. The work was concerned principally with television cameras and associated apparatus; in particular, the range of 4.5" image orthicon cameras was originated.

In 1948 a Guided Weapons study project was initiated. This led to the formation of a new Division of the Company, eventually succeeded by a separate Company, The British Aircraft Corporation (G.W.) Ltd., of which Leslie became Director of Engineering. He initiated the ground to air missile system known as Thunderbird and held engineering responsibility for all projects.

Early in the "Space Era" Leslie accepted with alacrity the directive to consider the possibilities of Space as a prime personal commitment. Collaborating with another old Western Electric colleague, E.K. Sandeman, attention was focussed on Communication Satellites, with special emphasis on the (then unaccepted) Geostationary Satellite. Because of the leading position of Hughes Aircraft in this area, a contact was soon established, which ultimately led to a formal inter-company agreement. Under this, Leslie had the privilege of working with the design team at Hughes during the competitive stages of Intelsat IV, concentrating on the communications aspects.

After retirement in 1968, musical interests, having been straining at the leash for many years, finally achieved full priority. Activities included organ building and musical instrument technology. He also enjoys tape recording and sailing.

Leslie was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1942 and a Commander of the Order (CBE) in 1956. He was a Fellow of the Institution of Electrical Engineers (London), the British Institution of Radio Engineers, the City and Guilds of London Institute and the Royal Aeronautical Society.