What a year ...
It is hard to believe that since I last put pen to paper for this Newsletter, we have had three Prime Ministers, four Chancellors of the Exchequer, war in Ukraine, double-digit inflation, and the highest interest rates in three decades. I am still trying to decide if appearing on ‘I’m a Celebrity, get me out of here’ is a promotion or demotion for our former Health Secretary ….
Add to all of this the sad passing of our late Queen, and the accession of King Charles III. On the 6th May at the King's Coronation we can marvel at the pomp and precision of the ceremony which nobody does better than we here in the UK - just a few weeks after our next Reunion on Saturday, the 22nd April 2023. I can still recall being marched down to Grantham town hall from my primary school to listen to the proclamation of Queen Elizabeth II in June 1952 having just read about the first ascent of Mount Everest by Hillary and Tenzing.
In contrast, not a lot changes with the Marconi Veterans’ Association – your Committee is still here to serve you and I have heard no rumours of scandal or impending resignations. That said, we will always be interested to hear from Veterans (or Associates) if you have any suggestions about what we do or offers of assistance which might benefit our objectives.
I am reminded that 2022 saw the 125th anniversary of the formation of Marconi as the Wireless Telegraph & Signal Company on July 20, 1897, which included ownership of the patents owned personally by Guglielmo Marconi. I also note that Pye (Cambridge) and Philips (Eindhoven) were formed in the same decade.
Marconi Wireless Telegraph of America was incorporated in 1899. The assets of American Marconi, (as it was often known) were purchased by General Electric of America in 1919 which led to the formation of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA).
Moving on from history to the present – thankfully, in terms of serious illness, it now seems that COVID is receding into the background for most of us so the return to relative normality hopefully means more of you will feel able to come to the 2023 Reunion. Once again, this will be held at Pontlands Park, almost adjacent to the former Marconi Research Laboratories. Others will report in more detail on the 2022 Reunion but suffice for me to say that I think it went well with great service and a very enjoyable meal. I would like to extend my personal thanks to Tim Wander for a very entertaining speech which kept us all engaged and, dare I say it, awake!
Marconi Exhibition ...
Anglia Ruskin University held an exhibition on campus in June/July 2022 using the theme ‘Chelmsford Innovation: Marconi and Beyond’. We were delighted to support this event with the provision of various artefacts and also contributed to the planning. One of the highlights was a Marconi Mark II Camera that was actually used at our late Queen’s Coronation in 1953 – many thanks to the Broadcast Engineering Conservation Group for providing this and also making it available at our last Reunion. Our Secretary, Colin, was present throughout the exhibition and will report in more detail on the event. From a personal viewpoint, I was honoured and delighted to be asked to formally open the exhibition at a reception the evening before opening day.
It is hoped that this event will be repeated in 2023 and we are grateful for the continued support and interest of the University in the Marconi heritage.
BBC centenary ...
Marconi’s 2LO radio station, the forerunner to the BBC, started transmission in May 1922 with the British Broadcasting Company Limited being formed in October 1922. The BBC marked the centenary with some special programmes and centenary-themed current programming.
The writer, comedian and radio history fanatic, Paul Kerensa, was interviewed on BBC broadcasts and put together a very entertaining one-man touring exhibition entitled ‘The First Broadcast: The Battle for the Beeb in 1922’. Paul played both Arthur Burrows and Peter Eckersley in the show which highlighted the clash between the two on what wireless was all about – Burrows desire to inform and educate and Eckersley wanting to entertain. Get your crystal set ready!
Sandford Mill ...
There is still no permanent successor to the Sandford Mill facility from a Marconi viewpoint, so we are grateful to Anglia Ruskin University for at least partially filling the void as noted above. There is considerable residential development planned for the area, but Chelmsford City Council insist that this does not threaten Sandford Mill itself.
And finally ...
Our President for 2023 will be Chris Neale, Programme Manager and Trustee of the Chelmsford Science and Engineering Society (CSES) and our guest speaker will be Alan Pamphilon, founder of Chelmsford History Walks and Talks and a former employee of e2v.
Our Patron and my predecessor Peter Turrall continues to be involved in Marconi events and you can read an interview with him later in this Newsletter.
Once again, I must thank Leonardo UK for assistance with our newsletter printing and postage costs. This ongoing support is invaluable and very much appreciated.