Further to the announcement here on February 2 here is a report of the event from Jim Salmon and Tim Wander
The Two Emma Toc 95th Anniversary Celebrations
In 1922 from ‘a long low hut full of long low people’ – a small group of young Marconi engineers entertained radio amateurs and listeners across the UK and beyond with regular radio broadcasts every Tuesday evening. The broadcasts originated from Writtle on the outskirts of Chelmsford, Essex, and the enthusiastic team led by Captain Peter Eckersley assembled their transmitter together with a gramophone player, microphone, and on occasions a piano from the local public house, to entertain listeners.
Whilst transmissions lasted for just a year, their impact was immense. Many of those involved moved on to make major contributions to the works of Marconi and the BBC.
On February 14th 2017 a new team came together in the original Writtle Hut, safely stored and under cover at Sandford Mill to celebrate this short time in history, when a small wooden hut in a field in Writtle, occupied by a group of fascinating individuals, became the home of the UK’s first regular radio broadcasts.
The team did not try to recreate station 2MT as we now live in a very different age. The aim of the evening was to recreate and celebrate the spirit and adventure of 2MT, to be ‘born in laughter and nurtured in laughter’.
From Sunday 12th February to Tuesday 14th February 2017 the team celebrated 2MT with an internet radio service including various live programmes from the original 2MT ‘Long Low Hut’. Whilst in the hut, we were joined by members of the Chelmsford Amateur Radio Society who were operating a special event amateur radio station using the call sign ‘GB95 2MT’. We were able to therefore, for the first time in 95 years actually broadcast and transmit from this historic building.
The aims of the evening were many. Firstly a great evening for the volunteers and Chelmsford amateur radio club to celebrate a true piece of Chelmsford history. The project also successfully celebrated the UK’s first regular broadcast station and raised awareness of current technology and amateur radio. We are happy to have been able to expand on the 2MT story and bring this to a new audience, paying tribute to all those involved.
There were many high points during the broadcast including being interviewed on BBC 5 Live and BBC Essex, however the main highlight was at 7 p.m. on Tuesday 14th February, exactly 95 years on from when 2MT started transmissions. At this time we all raised a glass and drank a toast to (1) 2MT and all involved, (2) radio hams past, present and future, and (3) Captain Peter Eckersley. We were joined in the hut by amateur radio and museum friends and colleagues, and we are sure the spirits from the past were looking on…!
For further information including programme recordings, videos, photos, publicity details, and our schedule of programmes, click on the link below.
A poignant moment during the 3 days was on Tuesday afternoon when we were visited by Shirley, the daughter of Tom Eckersley, Peter’s elder brother. Now in her 80s, we enjoyed talking about family and history, and I was pleased to be able to play her a recording of an interview with Peter Eckersley, most likely from the 1950s, in which he credits his brother Tom for being the inspiration to him at school to ‘be a wireless engineer’.
The team would like to say thank you to everyone involved and in particular everyone who e-mailed us and interacted with us on social media.
The team intend to be back with you for the centenary celebrations, but I have a feeling you may hear from us before then…!
One of the advantages of internet streaming radio is that your streaming company provides figures showing exactly how many people have clicked in to listen to a radio stream and the country they are in. Of course, this is also a major disadvantage because you will know if no-one is listening ! Our streaming figures are listed below, and taking into account the nature of this short broadcast, we are very happy with the result!
For the period 11th Feb to 14th Feb 2017 : number of unique listeners – 423 number of unique countries – 21 and average session length – 51.9 minutes
Many thanks to you all for tuning in !
The website at www.emmatoc.com has been operating for over a year now, and the number of visitors at the beginning of February 2017 numbered 7,957. By 21st February, this count has risen to 11,482, thus an increase of more than 3,500 views on the website for the period surrounding our broadcast.
On Sunday and Tuesday the team broadcast live from the 2MT hut, Essex Ham provided a live video feed using the Periscope phone app. In all 5 videos were streamed, ranging from 5 to 16 minutes each, and these were subsequently placed on the Essex Ham Periscope page. By 21st February, the number of views for these 5 videos stands at 805.
During our 3 day event we broadcast 51 documentaries, comedies and dramas, and 15 hours of live programming, much from the 2MT hut. On Sunday and Tuesday we were joined by our colleagues from the Chelmsford Amateur Radio Society who operated the special event call sign ‘GB95 2MT’ with transmissions on the 2 Metre and 40 Metre amateur bands making contacts across Europe. So, taking into account the above, our conclusion is – not bad for a small specialist subject radio service !
Thanks to Jim Salmon for all his hard work as the power behind the “emmatoc” microphone and for most of this report !
Further pictures are available on the CARS web site http://g0mwt.org.uk/sandfordmill/gb952mt/
February 14th 2017 marks the 95th anniversary of the start of Britain’s first ever regular, advertised broadcast radio station, 2MT, which came live from Writtle in Essex.
To commemorate this anniversary, and to celebrate the young, pioneering team of engineers, the Chelmsford Amateur Radio Society will be transmitting from the same building from where the original broadcasts commenced. One of their members, Jim Salmon, will also be operating a three-day internet radio service, Radio Emma Toc, featuring radio related documentaries, vintage comedies and live programmes from various locations.
The first 2MT broadcast started at 7.15pm on 14th February 1922 from an ex-army Marconi hut – a ‘Long Low Hut’ – sited in a waterlogged field in Lawford Lane Writtle. This famous hut is now on permanent display at Sandford Mill, Chelmsford, and can be visited during the summer open days at the Mill.
Members of the Chelmsford Amateur Radio Society – CARS – regularly transmit to fellow amateur radio hams from this historic hut and, for this celebration, a team from CARS will be making contact with fellow amateurs on the 12th and 14th February. A special event call sign, GB95 2MT, will be used to mark this occasion.
Tim Wander, Consultant at Sandford Mill and Chelmsford Museums, describes the original 2MT broadcasts. He says: “The 2MT team offered its listeners impromptu comedy sketches, the first ever broadcast radio play, dedicated children’s five minute spots, impersonations, guest artistes, burlesque entertainments and even parodies of grand opera. Nothing like it had been heard before – it was a new type of entertainment and it made history.
“The power behind the microphone was Marconi engineer, Captain Peter Eckersley, who as Britain’s first ‘DJ’ brought an amazing light-hearted spirit and comic skill to the new art of radio broadcasting. His sheer joie de vivre bubbled across the ether and he was not only the first, but also talked to his listeners as if they were in the room with him – and his listeners, estimated at over 20,000 people, loved him and the station.
“Often a one-man show, but always a team effort, 2MT at Writtle wrote a crucial chapter in the history of radio and broadcasting and directly led to the formation of the BBC in 1922.”
Jim Salmon, of Radio Emma Toc, says: “We will not try to recreate station 2MT – how could we? We live in a very different age. What we would like to recreate is the spirit and adventure of 2MT, to be ‘born in laughter and nurtured in laughter’.”
He continued: “If all goes to plan, our online radio station will be available to a worldwide audience via the internet, and the amateur radio transmissions will hopefully be beamed across the ether to distant shores. Of course, as with the best laid plans – there is a vast potential for things to go wrong, however this would be in keeping with the pioneering character of radio experimenters of the time!”
The team is also planning the centenary celebrations of the birth of British broadcasting in Chelmsford, and if you would like more detail please visit www.emmatoc.com.
For a programme schedule and information on Radio Emma Toc, visit www.emmatoc.com.
For details on the Chelmsford Amateur Radio Society and training courses provided by them, visit www.g0mwt.org.uk.
Sandford Mill will be open to the public on Sunday 9 July for the Science Discovery Day: The Great Outdoors!, which will give school children the chance to experience the Long Low Hut and view Marconi’s radio technology and TV cameras. To discover more, visit www.chelmsford.gov.uk/museums .
We have received the following information from Seth Muir in Seattle. The pictures and drawings have been augmented by additional material from Marconi Marine
My name is Seth Muir and I’m the Executive Director of Salish Sea Expeditions, a Seattle Washington USA based non-profit charity. For 20 years we have been engaging middle and high school students, primarily from public schools, in science research and maritime skills programs on Puget Sound aboard a 61′ sailing research vessel.
I’m writing because in 2015 we purchased the M/V Elettra III (o/n 694607; BRIT304285) from a private owner here in Seattle. We have begun to retro-fit and plan to relaunch her as our region’s first science and marine technology laboratory and research vessel for kids. We have made great progress and I thought you might be interested in our exciting new plan for this historic vessel built to Lloyd’s class for the Marconi Company.
Some materials about our progress (including the Act of Congress we received) and the campaign underway to relaunch Elettra III as a student lab can be found here. I also recently won a prize pitching this idea, and a short video can be seen here which tells the story and highlights our plans.
If this is of interest at all to you, I’d love to talk more. If you ever happen to be in this area we’d love to show you around and might have some original equipment coming off the boat that could be of interest too.
My information is all below, and I thank you for your interest.
Description of the vessel 1962
News from the Mill
from Tim Wander
A busy summer! Having stepped into the breach (so to speak) at the Mill to help Nick and the team after Nick Sturgess’s departure earlier this year – this summer has been both fascinating, interesting and all times a little frustrating – but a lot of progress has been made.
Firstly thank you to all the volunteers from all the different groups whose efforts continue to make Sandford Mill a unique and inspiring building – part museum, part store, part repository, part classroom, outward bound centre, school and many other things – hence the new signs I put up for open day – that just say…Sandford Mill.
You have to be there for a while to even work out the many different things that go on. On the building side I have been able to lend my support to push on with a series of building and site checks – all have gone well and the electrical fault in the classroom pump room has now been resolved.
On the museum front, in the short time available, I have managed to reorganise parts of the collection and document, reclassify and move around other parts into logical groups. This along with several clear outs has made some limited space – (which seems to be filling rapidly even now).
Some fascinating museum finds have been identified – the YB1 radio from 1918 (but with a ‘needs more research’ provenance associated with the first BBC broadcasts through early 1923) and the HS55A amplifier (1917) are very rare items and both are planned to be gently restored. We have managed to restore the original 2MT Piano stool and Peter Bridgeman has done a fantastic job with the T1154 and R1155 refurbs – now on display at Oakland’s. Colin Page is also working on one of the Marconi Mores code inkers which is in an very poor condition.
Other projects now ongoing include the 1971 LOCUS 16 Computer – the world’s first 16 bit minicomputer donated last year by BAE systems which has been installed and is now being rebuilt at the Mill. This is the only surviving complete example in the world. The Television volunteer engineering team has grown and sound and vision seem to have been restored …..there is even a rumour that one of the new volunteers has just fixed a design fault on a circuit board on a Camera that was shipped in 1966 – 50 years on – now that is proper after sales service.
We have also started an internal revamp and reorganisation of the famous 2MT Writtle Hut, working toward the rapidly approaching centenaries – January 2020 through to November 2020 for the Chelmsford Broadcasts, (June 2020 for Dame Nellie’s Concert) and of course February 2022 starts the 100th anniversary year of 2MT. A lot of planning is already underway including a planned 95th trial celebration/broadcast from ‘2MT’ in February 2017 – we hope to produce actual concerts and broadcasts at the correct time and place – 100 (and 95) years on. Watch this space for future updates.
As part of all this I am attempting to find time to rework the 2012 New Street Works book into a 2020 Centenary celebration for the New Street works and Melba’s broadcast – so if you have any memories or anecdotes or photographs of the factory that didn’t make it the first time, please send them in. I have received many since it first came out and many found new photographs, including a large section, sadly, on the sites recent demolition and “rebuild” – photographed and recorded over several years by Susan and Richard Wilson.
I also hope to rewrite the 2MT Writtle Book in some form for the centenary– (yes again) Since the 2010 edition much more research has come in (especially re the RFC origins of the 2MT team) and many more photographs have turned up. If you have anything to add to the 2MT story please email me – indeed if you would like to help email me!!
As per Hall Street this spring, any proceeds from these hopefully ‘fascinating reads’ will go toward the Centenary project funding. There will also be a dedicated website to the centenary plans and we are hoping to produce a short video or two to promote the events. Watch this space!
And now some appeals for the Museum:-
- Does anyone know of – or can you guess from your career history – where we might find a Marconi Myriad Computer? Today we (i.e. the National Computer Museum, Leeds University, Sandford Mill et al) cannot find any surviving example: I have vague memories about AFTN Switching in Cyprus (FLIGHT report confirms installation in 1967) and South Africa military switches – can you help?
- We are trying to get the important Great Baddow Chain Home Radar Mast listed – you may be surprised to know that due to several ‘technical’ reasons this unique and only complete surviving CH radar mast has effectively no statutory protection. I have to assemble a report about its use from 1954 until today. This history, when coupled with its important wartime history, will allow us to have another go – so any information please email me – I need to cover all its uses – for radar, TV, microwave projects etc. Thanks.
- As the Centenary fast approaches we are urgently seeking the loan of any early wireless equipment from WW1 and RFC use designed by the Brooklyn/Joyce Green RFC and later Writtle engineering teams. So can anyone loan us a Sterling W/T set or one of the early AD series of equipment designed, built and tested by Eckersley and his team between 1919 and 1922?
- The Hut now has an original 1916 tortoise stove in place and a correct Cliftophone gramophone on its way. We are looking for a 78 RPM record of Robert Howe singing the ‘Floral Dance’ – the first record to be played on 2MT.
- We are still looking for an elusive picture of the Hall Streets Works wireless station – the one across the road from the main factory site…anyone seen one?
- We are looking for more information on the Broomfield Wireless Station – formed in 1903 and badly damaged in WW2 – does anyone have any pictures or can point me to a source?
The 2MT transmitter rebuild is also gathering pace – through a generous donation to the museum we have now been able to provide all the original Marconi valves and new displays are being planned including a history the valve from ‘Fleming to Acorn’ – and a new display dedicated to the career of Peter Eckersley. Indeed a huge amount of volunteer effort has gone into sorting out the Mill’s huge valve collection and there have been some very early and possibly unique finds that we hope to display soon.
So while working on the future centenaries of British Broadcasting at the Mill – we were also pleased to accept on long term loan the amazing recreation of the Titanic Radio Room built by Ted Sinclair and first seen at the successful Hall Street exhibition earlier this year. I have also managed to have a first pass revamp of just some of the displays at Oaklands Museum – more planned in January.
The Sandford Mill Museum area has also had its own ‘revamp’ of some of the displays – much more work needs to be done – interestingly the Museum holds potentially the largest collection of original MIMCO equipment in the world – now being documented in a separate project.
The two Mill ‘open days’ were very well attended with numerous museum tours and hut tours telling the story of Marconi, Crompton’s, Safety at Sea, the Titanic and, of course, the birth of British Broadcasting. Thanks to all who those who came and those who helped.
A new line of research has been the Mill’s Filter House – with each tour attracting 60 plus people. The story of Chelmsford’s turbulent and, at times, difficult water supply from 1815-1984 has met with a lot of interest and several new projects are being based around this unique building and indeed the history of Sandford Mill itself. The Filter House is probably the last of its type in the world that went from “black” river water to chlorinated/softened/Ph controlled drinkable water in one building – producing some 3 million gallons everyday.
On a slightly smaller scale Jim and the team have nearly rebuilt the water wheel and the volunteers continue to support the education team with their many “hands on” working displays and demonstrators. Even some horses harnesses from an earlier century are being restored – proving it’s not all science and engineering based here at the Mill!.
Tim Wander (G6GUX yes offcom just gave it back -)
This is an update to the earlier post of 26 August with pictures from Shane Joyce showing the opening event on 18 September.
There have been several references to the Marconi radio site at Clifden in Connemara on this site and in the annual newsletter. This is the latest information we have received from Shane Joyce who has done much to publicise the site and the Marconi connections.
You are all cordially invited to our local opening of the recently completed Clifden Marconi Project which consist of a 4.6km walking trail over the original pathways used by the Marconi personnel.
There is a large number of information panels, “Photoscopes” and Audio devices amongst many other items along the trail. Alcock & Brown, being a major part of the story of the site, feature prominently, of course.
The opening has been scheduled to be on during Clifden Arts festival which is a brilliant event in its own right, now in its 39th year.
This alone is well worth a visit to our town.
Clifden Chamber of Commerce were the key local partner which made the project possible. This is their formal invitation
The other key partners are Failte Ireland and Galway County Council to whom we are very grateful.
As a lead-in to this event there will be a party on Saturday the 17th under the auspices of the Clifden Chamber
Anyone with Marconi connections will be very welcome to join Shane at this event. If anyone is considering travelling to Connemara they can contact Shane via the comments field below.
These two pictures are the latest we have received
Articles about Clifden were published in the Newsletters for 2008, 2011 and 2013
Below, as a reminder, are some pictures of the site that were published in 2013
This will include the coherer receiver and spark coil, both originals and would have been manufactured at Hall Street, a Siemens morse inker that was badged and sold by Marconi, a grasshopper key and a Marconi galvanometer.
Update from 29 May
The nearest we can get to the original photograph
Here is an interview by Steve Clow (ex Essex Chronicle) of the two gentlemen who brought this equipment to Hall Street for the last day of the exhibition
This page was updated on 26 March 2016
Below are pictures to give a flavour of the exhibition. On this opening day some exhibits had not yet arrived and BBC Essex had not completed their display. Further pictures will be added in the coming weeks.
Pictures taken on the evening of 18 March when Tim Wander spoke on Hall Street and Marconi: Building the wireless age.
Pictures taken on the evening of 25 March when Dave Monk from BBC Essex gave a presentation titled The BBC and Me and my life behind the Mic.
The Easter Bunny was in the audience.