Marconi New Street undergoes face change
Peter Turrall, MVA Chairman
Please click on the title Newsletter 2014 above to open the full document and on any picture in this newsletter to open a larger version.
Over the last nine months considerable work by the owners Bellway Homes has taken place on the Marconi Communication Systems site at New Street Chelmsford. All of the factory building has been completely demolished as well as Building 720 (the one with the wavy roof) and also the four storey building of Marconi House. The latter was riddled with concrete cancer and there was no real possibility of this remaining without extensive and costly improvements. (The accompanying aerial view was taken on 5 May 2013 by Alan Batchelor, who worked with Ted Pegram on HF Radar during the 1980s. On that date Marconi House was still standing.)
The only remaining buildings are the power house and the water tower, the latter being camouflaged in WW2 to resemble a church. The developers have just submitted plans to Chelmsford City Council for extra windows and doors to be fitted to this building. Its future use is unknown: at one time there was the possibility of an arts centre being established here, but as far as we know this has not been confirmed.
The site where the factory and other buildings were situated is now full of machinery, very high piles of earth and deep holes filled with water. In due course building foundations will be installed but it does appear this is some way off.
The front building, which has a preservation order on it, has been extensively improved, both externally and internally. The external appearance looks excellent and the gardens in front have been planted with miniature trees and other shrubs. This building will become the headquarters of the developers and already flags on our old flagpoles and other boards announcing future houses and buildings have been erected. It is hoped that the Marconi Veterans Association will be able to discuss at some future date the possibility of having some of our manufactured equipment on show within this complex, and also recording the work which was carried out here for over one hundred years.
The blue plaque which announced that Marconi the Father of Wireless had his factory on this site is still in place at the front of the building and small boards with photographs are there to advise the public of the work carried out and the importance of the industry in the City of Chelmsford.
Marconi Veterans’ Association will continue to have discussions with the developers in an effort to keep alive at the site the importance of the Marconi name, the place where the manufacture of some of the worlds finest electronic equipment occurred, and to recognise that this was the site of the first commercial broadcast by Dame Nellie Melba in the 1920s.