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

Building on Essex 2020




  February 14th 2022 is the 100th anniversary of the first wireless broadcast where "content met presentation", and was compèred by Peter Eckersley of the Marconi Company in the famous Writtle Hut.

This is a big event – after all, it lead directly to the creation of the BBC and “broadcasting as we know it”. Whilst there are arguments about who "invented radio", there is less argument about who invented Broadcasting, so we can go full tilt at this event without complication.

Also, as event opportunities go, this is a Chelmsford monopoly. There is only one "birthplace of broadcasting", and we have got it under our noses, right here.

Chelmsford Council has managed the Marconi legacy poorly, it’s barely visible and the historic city centre factory premises have nearly all been converted for housing – in a city where access and infrastructure is amongst the least suitable in the region . Most people with any knowledge of this subject are puzzled by Chelmsford’s ability to conceal its illustrious past. Anywhere else in the world with sort of heritage would have made a really big feature of it years ago.

There are many small history and heritage groups formed from special interest groups and factions of the once huge business that are scattered, and not sufficiently well coordinated to tackle the council’s dereliction of its duty to both Chelmsford and the nation, and barely - if at all - funded. Marconi employed some 60% of the Chelmsford population directly and indirectly in its heyday.

The Chelmsford Amateur Radio Society (CARS) comprises many former Marconi employees and traditionally leads from the front with running Marconi-related events - with and for the Council. But it has limited commercial awareness and ambition,

This proposal document began life in 2017 when 5 years notice was a decent length of time for a project like this. It can be “counted down” effectively all the way through that period with landmark events and “sub anniversaries” to tee up the big day. A lot was going on with Marconi in terms of wireless innovation and trials in the 5 years up to 1922. And this 2020 event had not been mentioned...

Welcome to Essex 2020, a year-long, county-wide celebration of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) in Essex.

Inspired by the prestigious British Science Festival, which comes to the region in 2020 for the first time in its 189-year history, Essex 2020 will present a 12-month programme of STEAM-related exhibitions, festivals, performances, workshops, conferences, trails and more for everyone to enjoy...

The Essex 2020 event can gather and funnel awareness for 2022. It can help create a launch ramp for this project.  Essex2020, will acknowledge the 1920 Dame Nellie Melba recital, when she famously performed at the Chelmsford Marconi works and was broadcast from the antenna towers at the site.

It should be possible to leverage Essex2020 in the build up to 2022 when the BBC and other broadcasters are planning centenary celebrations (we know how the media enjoys events about itself!) - so and here is an ideal opportunity to take the initiative and steer the project. Ironically, the very future of the BBC is currently under consideration by many who feel it has lost its way in recent years by abandoning its original remits to "inform and entertain" - and more grandiosely acknowledge the proposition that "Nation shall speak peace unto Nation".






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