95 YEARS – A CELEBRATION OF RADIO STATION 2MT

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.

Jim Salmon in the 1922 Writtle Hut with a reproduction of a broadcast transmitter of the same era in the background

Jim Salmon – ‘the power behind the “emmatoc” microphone’

Members of CARS
Chris Chapman G0IPU, Logging HF Contacts on the large laptop , with Les Radley G4JDS (middle and to Chris’ left), operating HF radio (as GB95 2MT) Right/foreground: Murray Niman G6JYB – on VHF and checking callsigns on QRZ.com using a smaller notebook pc

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.

Tim Wander Talking with Dave Monk on BBC Essex and 2MT

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.
http://www.emmatoc.com

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…!

Summary

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/

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