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The Marconi Family

This version was saved 1 year, 10 months ago View current version     Page history
Saved by Alan Hartley-Smith
on August 8, 2022 at 4:33:28 pm


The essence of the Marconi approach was centred on its people starting with Guglielmo Marconi himself and the staff he gathered round him. To be known as a "Marconi man or woman" was to be acknowledged as personally belonging to a rather special family business, and there were many sons and daughters who followed fathers and mothers into the Company. The following quotes illustrate this:

A research engineer, walking in the soft sunshine on the little lawn beside Marconi College, and looking back over the feverish [war] years now closed was trying to explain this thing [the manner of tackling the scale of scientific and manufacturing work undertaken by the company]. He paused, considered for a moment and then said, as one who states an objective scientific fact: "It is, I think that the Marconi Company has a soul"

Marconi 1939-1945 A War Record - George Godwin




When you join the Marconi Company you are joining an organisation with a history of truly great achievements. From its earliest days the inventiveness and enterprise of its engineers and the remarkable loyalty of all those who have worked for it have built up a proud tradition which is recognised throughout the world. These qualities are required today as much as before and I am confident you will play your part in maintaining this high standard.


This small book [a new staff handbook] sets out many of the advantages and obligations of membership of the Marconi Company, together with some of the rules which are made so that the organisation can function smoothly and efficiently. I hope that it will be helpful to all staff and that it will also make it easier and quicker for newcomers to feel themselves to be full and useful members of the Company.

(signed) F N Sutherland, CBE, MA, MIEE - Deputy Chairman and Managing Director - September 1963


This master Family History wiki records information related to the whole range of Marconi interests, with links to a set of individual Topic History wikis. As a matter of interest it itself came about from a decision to make a record of the life-and-times of those in the radar fraternity and their doings although no longer together as a group, which after some research was chosen to be made using an online wiki format to enable remote content management and ease of access. This subsequently resulted in the creation of the Marconi Heritage Group with the aim of getting the whole Company heritage in the now-City of Chelmsford properly recognised, and thus the extension into this Marconi Family wiki and a series in the same vein as Radar to cover the other divisions and companies in the same way, which now number twelve.


With increased interest in the history of the Company the content of all the wikis has developed into an online extension to the printed Baker history up to the final GEC days, taking advantage of the resulting new technology (see note in Charivaria added as a later historian.) 


Family itself has several sections, listed below, and these in turn are broken down into further classifications so it is worthwhile having a quick scan of each at this level to discover the full extent of the recorded information. If there is no relevant item please make contact by using the "Contact the owner" link at the bottom of every page, which can also be used if you wish to comment or volunteer to aid in editing or mounting content and also if you encounter any broken links or other problems. All wikis are open to public view with no need to apply for access.



Sections in Family Wiki


Chronology   Essex Locations   Premises   Organisation   Corporate   People   Charivaria  Collapse   Archives   References



It is a matter of great regret that probably the most disgraceful example of stupidity and mis-management in the history of British business affairs resulted in its complete failure in 2001 bringing to an end a record of technical innovation and exploitation without parallel. It was to make at least an effort to ensure this is not totally forgotten that groups of colleagues, using the modern technologies that sprang from their foundation of wireless, got together to set down a record and their recollections of the many ways in which all of Marconi's early ideas, and many others of which he would have been appreciative, were translated into the world's most successful products to provide the service of all aspects of what became the world of electronics, mainly as a key member of British industry.


In the end the name outlasted those of all of its rivals. This is also true of its reputation for providing life-time support for its customers - there are many examples of systems and installations still in operation today, long after the company ceased to exist, being supported by the successor companies.


Details of 2020 centenary celebrations - Melba Centenary events  also here here and here 

All online online Melba Centenary events are available here 


Details of 2022 centenary celebrations - 2022 2MT centenary celebration




Editors note - June 2022

A major exhibition is being mounted on the campus of Anglia Ruskin University in Chelmsford called "Chelmsford Innovation: Marconi and Beyond" from June 22 on selected days until July 15, featuring unique collections of equipment from the first radio signal detector to the first ever microprocessor.


Editors note - May 2022

There is now increased activity in the realm of space communications being carried out by our successors BAE Applied Intelligence details of which are being added to the Communications wiki.


Editors note - March 2022

The start of the 2MT celebrations


Editors note - February 2022

This year sees the celebrations of the start of radio broadcasting in the UK - see details above 


Editors note - January 2022

A new book has been published that is very relevant to the purpose of the wikis, namely "All Ships, All Ships" - a history of the short-&- medium-range coast radio stations in Great Britain"  written by Larry Bennett, an ex-Radio Officer. The network was originated by Marconi and Lloyds then operated by the British Post Office, running from the 1920s to 2000. We have received a courtesy copy having cooperated as a source of information, currently held by me but destined for the Chelmsford archive when we get one, so I can be contacted for queries, or copies can be obtained via Amazon worldwide https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1800311451 or signed copies from Larry via the GKA website at www.portisheadradio.co.uk


A start to the celebrations of 2022 - more


An interesting item from  last-year's Marconi Day 


Past news items are located here


Introduction to Topic Wikis



It is with great regret that we have to report the death of David Samways, one of the principal editors of the wikis. Remembrances are recorded here.


A series of Histories is being assembled using online content management wikis and we have now achieved our aim of establishing separate online Histories for each of the major divisions - later companies - that constituted first the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company, later The Marconi Company within the English Electric Group, and finally various companies within the GEC group. These have now reached a level of content that fully covers the life and times of this influential  company - this is a timeline of the progression of the Company.


At the moment extensions into the separate entities that are now within BAE Systems, Teledyne2v, SIRM, Leonardo and Ericsson are not being undertaken, but where relevant individual references are included.   


As information is gathered on all Histories it is edited, and when considered useful is added. Each is shown here with its major heading, listed by name, being a link to its wiki. Currently there are twelve topic wikis underway.  




Marconi Heritage Group

The creation and development of the wikis led to renewed general interest in the history and fate of the company and has led to the formation of the Marconi Heritage Group to preserve documents, artifacts and personal recollections from all Marconi-related organisations and to campaign for the creation of a Heritage Centre in Chelmsford.


There has also been created a wiki for ex-apprentices MOFS which has almost one thousand members but is in custodial editorship only awaiting a volunteer editor to take over.


Some interesting quotations:

Marconi's vision, his speed of operation and his ability to inspire his Company to invest £50,000 -- equal to several millions today -- can be compared with the modern achievement of putting a man on the moon.  There is a related article here, with its associated letter here, and also a sound recording here in which he is heard making reference to this investment, and others here and here have more reports and opinions. There is a very significant record of a paper  delivered to the Royal Society of Arts by Sir Ambrose Fleming in 1937 which illustrates his unique approach. The circumstances surrounding this and other early activities are fully covered in a major new publication "Guglielmo Marconi - Building the Wireless Age" which can be found  here.


A later report in the company journal "The Marconi Review" highlights the impact of his work. There are many more references available but some are more worth highlighting than others to show the significance of this work to both contemporary and modern day society.  Throughout his life he was responsible for many of the uses of technology that made modern life possible rather neatly illustrated here


The progress achieved by Marconi from 1894 to 1902 was amazing. He commenced his work with a vision; to achieve comprehensive communication systems with the aid of Hertz's waves, by the end of this period he had spanned the Atlantic. Marconi was a true engineer who systematically developed his system to meet a communication need. His discovery of the vertical aerial, the move towards longer wavelengths, and his application of tuning to achieve selectivity were crucial steps to success during the first period of development before the invention of the thermionic valve. From his work much pure science has stemmed, including knowledge of the structure of the Earth's atmosphere and its interaction with solar radiation. But Marconi was primarily a wireless communication engineer, and it is for his outstanding achievements in this field that we honour the centenary of his birth. His work initiated the radio age. Since that time, wireless transmissions have been made continuously except for one brief interval of radio silence on the evening of the 20th July 1937, when the whole world paid tribute to the great pioneer of wireless who had just passed away. [From Electronics & Power 2 May 1974 - Marconi Centenary]


Most recently, in an article by Bryan Appleyard in the Sunday Times Magazine issue of 23 June 2019, in an interview of James Lovelock about his new book, he says, quote: "The book is "Novacene: The Coming Age of Hyperintelligence. Novacene is Lovelock's name for a new planetary age that has already begun - the age of artificial intelligence and thinking machines, the age of the cyborg. For Lovelock, the previous period, the Anthropocene, began in 1712 when Thomas Newcomen built a steam engine to prevent coal mines from flooding. That invention and others ushered in the Industrial Revolution that shaped the modern world. It began to end, he says, when Guglielmo Marconi sent radio signals across the Atlantic in 1901, heralding a new era of technology that later gave rise to computers. "Marconi started it," Lovelock says, "but it's gradually been developing, partly mathematically, partly technically, in all sorts of ways." (Editors note - one of these ways is exemplified by this work which is being carried out by a Marconi-originated company. Also the successors of the Baddow Research Laboratories are still in operation.)  

The man himself  - Source 1 - Source 2 - Source 3 plus Nobel lecture - Source 4 - Source 5 & 6 - Source 7 - Source 8 - Source 9 - Source 10

There is also a lot of technical content in these biographical items.


Two of his very important and farsighted early initiatives were training for all levels of the workforce and customer staff, and the implementation of public relations. These were the formation of Marconi Training Facilities and The Marconi Press Agency.


The Companies

 Their stories encompass virtually the whole history of the British electronics industry during the twentieth century.

Certainly the scale of the product range of the principal company is exemplified by the contents of the 1969 catalogue. 


In particular, following the establishment of the principal manufacturing company, The Marconi International Marine Communication Company Limited (MIMCO) was founded as a subsidiary of MWT Ltd. to administer the maritime wireless services then being created, and established the leadership in the main market.  It became prominent through its provision of not only equipment but also radio officers for merchant shipping, and later also for navies. 

(Editors note - after a number of new owners this has now "returned home" in the form of SIRM and also has it's own wiki )


Other successors are Leonardo, still operating in Basildon and, related through EEV, Teledyne2v  


The Marconi Veterans Association  The strength of this relationship between company and staff is shown by this typical event


The Marconi Archives were transferred to Oxford University and are held in the Bodleian Library and the Museum of the History of Science. Also transferred was Marconi Calling - an official on-line source commissioned by Marconi plc in 1999 - now archived but still accessible.


There is an annual award of the Byrne-Bussey Marconi Fellowships


An interesting account of the very earliest experimental work in the UK, and later work during WW1.


From the very beginning the operations were international for both installations and manufacture 


The start of "broadcasting"  


"Become a Marconi engineer and see the world" - these are one man's early experiences  1.  2.  3.


Two very significant events in the story are the Transatlantic Experiment and the sinking of the Titanic


An Electronics Today article


A very interesting video clip made in 1991.


A series of British Pathe news clips


A short video including reference to Marconi 


A promotional film made circa 1968


Milestones in Broadcasting


An American story


A Canadian story


Three heritage audio links   1.  2.  3.


Marconi in Wartime

For the four years from 2014 to 2018 the Imperial War Museum ran a Commemoration Partnership for the Great War or World War One and as wireless played an important role the Marconi Heritage Group was a contributor . The Company's contributions to both World Wars is summarised in these two entries - Wireless goes to War and MARCONI AT WAR 1939-45. This is now being followed up by further examinations of how wartime developments continued to enhance the social structure of the peace.


General Marconi History

The Family - what was the secret of the Marconi ethos 


Villa Griffone, the Guglielmo Marconi Foundation, an article about further locations in Bologna and wartime memories


The Historic Museum of Communication

Also known as the Post and Telecommunication museum is located in Rome. It has the Sala Marconi in which there are various electronic instruments including an oscillator and a copper-plated parabolic reflector made by Marconi for wireless telegraphy in 1895 and a magnetic detector built inside a cigarette box in 1902 aboard cruiser Carlo Alberto. Also a battery of Leyden bottles , a radioanegraph audio receiver of the Majorana type and a Marconi radiogoniometer. In the Elf Panfilo room is the rebuilt radiotelegraphic cabin where original appliances were stored in the warfare period of Elettra I, used by Marconi.


Chelmsford Industrial Museum at Sandford Mill - current location of much Marconi memorabilia.


The place where Marconi established his principal headquarters - Source 1 - Source 2


Marconi Research and Demonstration Vessels


Marconi Research and Demonstration Aircraft


Here, through the kind assistance of the team at Ericssons, is an archive of the Marconi websites from 2000 onwards. It takes some time to work through the calendar links but there is much of interest to discover.


Chelmsford Civic Society and Chelmsford Science and Engineering Society - we have close connections  


Chelmsford Amateur Radio Society


Essex Industrial Archaeology Group


Marconi on the Lizard  1.  2.  3.


The Marconi Centre at Poldhu and an interesting article


Goonhilly Earth Station

New installations for 21st century circa June 2019

We have been informed by a colleague who originally worked in the Marconi Research Laboratories and is now with BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, who took over the Baddow establishment, that he is currently the lead engineer on a project being carried out by BAE Systems to refurbish an antenna at Goonhilly which will be used to support future lunar missions, 50 years after the Apollo 11 landing. Details of the work are this article <https://www.theengineer.co.uk/goonhilly-earth-station-bae-systems/> and in this article in the latest edition of Astronomy Now. There is also a write-up on the Goonhilly website here.


The Marconi Society


The Magic Box - a project originated on the occasion of the anniversary of Marconi’s Nobel Prize in Physics (December 10, 1909)


Chatham Marconi Maritime Center


The Radio Officers' Association and The Lizard Marconi Radio Station


Merseyside Maritime Museum - a source of information on Radio Officers


Imperial War Museum



BAE Heritage - they now have a web link 



Statement of intent



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