Arthur Bertram Noel was my maternal Grandfather. I have a box of glass slides several of which show him working in some unknown capacity for a tea company in India. He was trained as an engineer and was later to work for Metropolitan Vickers on several important projects in a senior capacity, e.g. the Thetis submarine and the Mersey Tunnel.

He worked for Metro Vick in the Soviet Union building turbines in the late Twenties and early Thirties. An album of his photographs taken there, I gave to David King for his collection. When the other engineers were arrested and charged with machine wrecking, ABN was spirited out of the Soviet Union concealed in a van. His name remains on lists of suspects who were not arrested at the time. Until the day of his death he would receive vaguely threatening phone calls in rather theatrical Russian accents asking if Mr. Noel planned to return to the Soviet Union.

My father discovered that ABN had been working for MI6 and it was considered unwise for him to be arrested with the others. This seemed to chime well with discussions I had with him just before his death. I was 12 and had read keenly about the Russian revolution. ABN talked wistfully about mistakes the British Government made in supplying faulty parts to the Soviet authorities, and his role in the events.


see verbatim accounts

of the Metro-Vic trials