It’s a small world… but I wouldn’t want to paint it.
The year was 1986 and I was a student studying for my A-Levels and looking to start my electronics degree at Brunel University in London. One company that offered to pay for me to go through university was Thorn EMI Electronics in Hayes, just to the West of London, near Heathrow.
Thorn EMI was a large defense company and regularly took on about 10 students every year from Brunel with the promise of employment after graduation. I turned up for my interview at Blyth Road in Hayes, ready to meet the recruitment manager. Unfortunately, I was stopped at security because there had been a fire alert in the building and it was currently being evacuated. My interviewer arrived a few minutes later and announced “Well, we might as well start the interview here” and proceeded to ask me questions while we stood on the pavement in Blyth Road. He also explained about the fantastic history of Hayes. This was the location of the record factory that pressed The Beatles records, the invention of radar and stereo sound.
Fast forward 30 years and I had left Thorn EMI, worked for five other companies and was now at Analog Devices. ADI was looking to combine the Linear Technology and Analog Devices offices into one building. The location? Blyth Road in Hayes. Not only that, but the new ADI offices would be located on the exact floor that I spent a lot of time during my career at Thorn EMI.
Indeed, I remember being on night shift and my colleague bringing in a golf putting set and us practicing our putting skills at 2am along the corridor in what is now the ADI offices during our lunch break. I also remember seeing my future wife in the canteen at Hayes, although we did not meet each other until several years later.
I used to share a lift into Thorn with a fellow student who went on to become a principal design engineer at Hittite. Chatting with an ADI colleague the other day revealed that we have both worked with him at separate times in our careers. The world seems yet smaller.
Shortly after I left Thorn EMI, they relocated and the Blyth Road site was left to go derelict. It was sad to see a building with such history turn into an eyesore. However, its ‘post-apocalypse’ appearance was not entirely lost. The Thorn EMI site was featured in the film Thor: The Dark World.
Thor – Standing in front of the buildings that became the Analog Devices UK HQ
The year is now 2021 and I am back in Hayes. The buildings have been refurbished to a superb standard and the ADI Hayes office is now unrecognizable to the place I started my career. The Hayes office is stunning – light, bright and a delight to work in. In fact, I can look out of the window and see the original spot, on the curbside, where my interview started back in 1986 so my career has come full circle, quite literally. I remember thinking at the time, after being interviewed on the pavement, that my career could only go in one direction. Little did I know what a significant part Hayes would play in it.
It is good to be back.
The Analog Devices UK Office today