Bob Symes

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Bob Symes taking an interview in Vienna, 2008

Robert Alexander Baron Schutzmann von Schutzmansdorff (born 6 May 1924) is a British inventor and television presenter. He is known as Bob Symes, and sometimes credited-as Robert Symes-Shutzmann or Bob Symes-Shutzmann.


Descended from an Austrian aristocratic family, Symes became a familiar face to British TV audiences of the 1980s through his appearance on shows such Tomorrow's World. In addition to his appearances on Tomorrow's World, Symes also presented his own Model World programme dedicated to the hobby of modelling, on the BBC in the mid 1970s, and co-presented (with Mary-Jean Hasler) a series called Making Tracks in the 1990s for the BBC. Making Tracks was a series dedicated to little-known lines and networks worldwide, and which specialised in steam operations. Perhaps uniquely, episodes were not filled with background music, thereby allowing viewers to listen to trains running without distraction.

A railway enthusiast, Symes's other activities included setting up the Border Union Railway in the 1970s to try to reopen a disused rail line in Southern Scotland and the north of England and restoring vintage tractors. Around the end of the Second World War, Symes married Monica Chapman who later became Producer of the BBC radio programme Desert Island Discs and Your Concert Choice. In January 2007 he married Sheila Gunn (now Sheila, Baroness Symes Schutzmann von Schutzmansdorff), then Works Manager at Boston Lodge, on the Ffestiniog Railway. His interest in railways also includes model railways such as Gauge 1; he has a gauge 1 railway in his garden that was created in 1980. Many years later, a 10¼ railway was also built in his garden. He is also the president of a Guildford-based model railway circle called Astolat MRC.

Symes was also instrumental in setting up the Institute of Patentees and Inventors. Until its closure on Easter Monday 2014, he was also patron of 'Hospital Radio Lion' based at the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford. As of 2014, he lives near Guildford, Surrey, United Kingdom.

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