Marconi family visit to Chelmsford
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Peter Turrall, MVA Chairman
Following the presentation of an Honorary Degree of Technology at Anglia Ruskin University on Wednesday 7th October, Princess Elettra Marconi Giovanelli, the daughter of our founder Guglielmo Marconi, accompanied by her son and daughter-in-law Prince Guglielmo and Princess Victoria Marconi Giovanelli with hosts Chairman Peter Turrall and his wife Jean toured various establishments in the Chelmsford area which had some connection in the past to Marconi’s.
At a dinner on Wednesday evening at the University where the Vice Chancellor and learned Professors together with the directors of Anglia Ruskin were present, Princess Elettra thanked all concerned in honouring her with the degree which she accepted with great pleasure.
The following day a rapid tour took place. First stop was the Marconi building in New Street, now the home of Benefit Cosmetics, an American-based organisation selling various cosmetics in the UK. We were received here by Ian Marshall the MD and his staff who gave us an excellent tour of their building. The original front reception area together with the Edwardian staircase is still present, but the whole of the inside has been completely brightened with light walls/ceilings etc. The front offices depict many wireless set replicas and photographs and it was a real pleasure to see how much recognition of the work of Marconi’s has been displayed.
All the staff were anxious to know the history of the Company and what took place in the building. Photographs and more details of our history will be given to the Benefit company which they will gladly display in one of the rooms.
There is a number of modifications inside the building. The Directors’ Luncheon Club has been completely renovated and the partition at the rear where small dining rooms were situated, together with the kitchen area, has been removed. The rear area has been blocked off and a small entrance door adjacent to the old surgery has been installed. The area where the old organisation for travel arrangements and part of the photographic department is now one very large room.
My old office, once used by Marconi himself, is a reception area and on the wall various wireless sets are arranged. The whole organisation from MD down were delighted to see the Princess and are eager to learn more about the work of the Marconi Company.
The next visit was to All Saints Church Writtle where Princess Elettra saw for the first time the Marconi/Platt coloured glass window which was opened by her son some fifteen years earlier. Due to a broken ankle at that time she was unable to come to the UK herself to perform the opening ceremony. Following this was a visit to Melba Court Writtle where Marconi had his experimental laboratories and where work started on what became wireless broadcasting.
Then a quick visit to Chelmsford City Museum in Oaklands Park where all the Marconi equipment including cameras, and other communication items were on display. It was then a short journey to BBC Essex in London Road to visit the plaque depicting the opening of the Chelmsford Station by Princess Elettra’s Mother, Maria Cristina Marconi. A final trip to the Marconi statue at the rear of Chelmsford bus station ended the very quick tour of Chelmsford before the Marconi family were driven to Heathrow Airport for their flight back to Rome.