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Marconi Heritage Group

Page history last edited by Alan Hartley-Smith 6 months, 2 weeks ago

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The Marconi Heritage Group - How it came into being

 

Our public website

 

The Marconi Old Geezers Society - MOGS - was formed in 2001 as an informal group of former employees, most of whom worked for Marconi Radar Systems. They use an online forum to exchange memories and news of personal doings, with over 130 members.

 

In 2010 it was decided to record the contribution made by Marconi Radar to the history of radar while those with first-hand experience are still alive. In addition, to record the stories and anecdotes and sadly the obituaries of those people who supported that contribution.

 

Following the success of the forum an online wiki format was chosen to allow the addition and modification of content by suitably experienced contributors, with an overall editorial control. Initially access was restricted to members, but the intention was to eventually make the site public on the internet, to disseminate the fascinating history of the Company to those who will appreciate it. (Editors note - this was achieved in 2016)

 

This wiki grew to be a substantial record incorporating text, graphics, photographs, audio and video clips, drawn from personal inputs and material collected and currently held in an archive stored in the Chelmsford Industrial Museum at Sandford Mill.

 

As the content includes factual material from company publications and records, to be made public required authorisation by the present copyright holder, so this was organised through their Heritage Product committee and as of January 2013 Alan Hartley-Smith was appointed to be a member of the Committee with the intention to set up a Heritage Project to establish a business plan for a Marconi Heritage Centre in Chelmsford. It transpired that what we are trying to achieve matches well with their existing activities. Based on similar situations at current and former sites, it would be possible, with a viable and sustainable business plan, to establish a Marconi Heritage Centre in Chelmsford.

 

For added emphasis, as a result of the success of the radar wiki interest grew in similar activity for other product areas. Currently these are as listed on the Home page of this generic Marconi wiki, which itself covers such as the college and research establishments, all of which have now also been opened to public view. This meant there was now a need for coordinated input from the wider community,

 

During the same time period there was the eventually successful campaign to rescue the New Street site from complete dereliction, in which the Marconi Veterans Association was involved. This led to the possibility of a renewed physical presence in Chelmsford for Marconi interests. There was also a local upsurge of interest, through the Changing Chelmsford initiative, the Essex Record Office event to make an aural record of Marconi employee’s stories, and the public meetings of the New Street developer, Bellway, itself a Chelmsford-based company. In the event the listed front offices built in 1912 and fronting onto New Street were conserved but no provision for a Marconi presence was made other than a token office. 

 

The consequence of these events was that there was a need to recruit suitably interested individuals, likely having some former association with Marconi and resident reasonably close to Chelmsford, which led to the formation of the Marconi Heritage Group, to organise the establishment of and then arrange manning for a physical Centre to accommodate archive material, mount exhibitions and to enable volunteers to act as presenters for public involvement, which would include online facilities to show the content of the wikis, to carry promotion into local schools and seek to support from other organisations. This is how similar services at other heritage sites round the country are provided and supported, and resulted in a new project centred round the original Marconi factory in Hall Street as described  here. Unfortunately this ultimately came to nothing because of lack of local authority support.

 

However, just recently an initiative of the Chelmsford Civic Society in association with the Marconi Heritage Group, the Marconi Veterans Association and Chelmsford City Council has resulted in the creation of a Hall Street Historical Information board using funds raised at the Hall St and Titanic exhibitions. It is installed opposite on the wall of the Woolpack highlighting the world's first wireless factory - residents would not allow us to put it on the actual building. Peter Turrall of Marconi Veterans unveiled it on 13th September - he revealed that in one of the photographs there was a picture of his grandfather! This is a collage of pictures of the event and a video is available here.

 

The current members of the Group, mainly former senior staff members of Marconi, interested in the preservation of its history, are always ready to welcome other colleagues wanting to become actively involved. In the first instance please use the contact link on the website link above.  Local contacts are being established.

 

The Marconi Veterans Association committee has continued to support the appeal for volunteers to assist the Marconi Heritage Group. Veterans can enroll to help by contacting any committee member.

 

The Chelmsford Science and Engineering Society has also endorsed the initiative. The Chelmsford Industrial Museum at Sandford Mill currently holds a lot of existing archive material and provides ongoing support through public events. Both can be contacted.

 

To promote the formation of the Centre the Group works with the Essex Record Office, Chelmsford Civic Society and the Industrial Archeology sub-group of the Essex Society for Archaeology and History.

 

Update February 2022

Currently a potential site is being explored and will be reported on as soon as possible. 

 

 

 

 


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