Chelmsford and 100 years of broadcasting

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 The famous hut in Writtle where 2MT – and broadcasting - was born
– now relocated to Chelmsford’s Sandford Mill Museum

The Invest Essex website ( is somewhat off message. On the front page …


No, Marconi didn’t invent radio communications! It’s reminds me of the PR story put out by Microsoft in the 90s that Bill Gates had invented the internet. “World-leading pioneer” will do nicely..




And who remembers Channel 4's Chelmsford 123?

Shown in 1988 - "Classic comedy about the power
struggle between Romans and Britons in ancient Britain)
It even managed 2 series!


The “invention of Radio” is a contentious proposition.

Many were involved with exploring basic physics or radio waves, and adapting it to inventing the technology of radio and TV. Someone will always want to air the Maxwell and Tesla stories, with a grave danger of anorak warfare breaking out. We need to avoid all that.

Broadcasting is a very specific application of radio (and TV) and the birth of broadcasting is a big story in its own right, joining together many aspects of technology and social history. It is important not to get bogged down in tech minutiae – although it is in the nature of a story like this one, that accumulated trivia becomes integral to the theme.

Capt Peter Eckersley’s 1922 “2MT” project was the first to (consciously) combine radio technology with scheduled "presented" and "compèred" entertainment content, and aim it a “broadcast audience” ... thus crossing the line from point-to-point communication and demonstrations, and leading to the creation of companies and entire industries that defined “media” in the 20th century, lead by the example of the BBC.

Whilst I don’t want to undermine the Chelmsford City Council efforts to acknowledge Marconi and his company’s achievements, we need to be a careful to represent the right story in the right way.

The project needs a name – possibly several names covering different threads. I favour titles that are self explanatory rather than cryptic, so I’ll kick off with…

• The Marconi Broadcast Centenary 2022

We must not lose sight of the 1920 Dame Nellie Melba trial broadcast from the New Street works - but this is not a "slam dunk first" - many others were doing much the same at about this time. Wikipedia has been extensively updated on this topic as so many centenaries have emerged. Notabely the 1919 work of Dutchman Hans Henricus Schotanus à Steringa Idzerda.

However, Eckersley's 1922 Writtle hut project demonstrably led directly to the creation of the BBC - and that may well be the hook on which to hang this,



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