In the late 1920’s, when the headquarters of Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Company Limited were situated at Marconi House in the Aldwych London, a number of employees of the Company decided that it would be appropriate if they organised a formal dinner to celebrate the many years they had been with the Company and also to reminisce on times together.
The Company was initially formed in London in 1897 by Senor Guglielmo Marconi who opened a factory in Hall Street, Chelmsford, Essex in 1899. This was at one time a silk mill and later a furniture warehouse for a well known Chelmsford business. Here, Marconi employed 26 men to manufacture wireless telegraph equipment under the Company name ” The Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company Limited”.
The Company expanded and, in 1912, a new purpose built wireless factory was built in New Street, Chelmsford where many hundreds of employees were taken on by the newly named organisation “Marconi’s Wireless and Telegraph Company Limited”, better known as MWT.
By that time, and with the advent of Radio Broadcasting on the horizon, Marconi opened new offices in the Aldwych London where clerical staff were employed, some of these moving from Chelmsford to the new Headquarters of the Company. It was from here that the first get-together of staff for a dinner took place and, following from this, The Marconi Veterans’ Association was formed.
The first President in 1928 was Senor Guglielmo Marconi and the following year his brother in law H. Jameson Davis who was, by now, a Director of the Company, was elected to succeed him.
Each year, apart from the War years 1939 -1946, a get-together with members of the Association has taken place either in London or at Chelmsford and a new President is elected. The basic requirement to attend the get-together was that the employee had to achieve 25 years continuous service with the Company.
In the early days not many people were able to reach 25 years service but, as time went by, the number of employees obtaining this status increased tremendously. Now in 2003, there are over 3,000 people either employed or retired who have achieved this status.
The Marconi Veterans’ Association is now open to any employee who has achieved the basic requirement of 21 years service, reduced from the earlier requirement of 25 years.
The Marconi Companies have changed considerably in recent years and although the name is known worldwide, and there are many outlets of Marconi’s throughout the world, the product line is vastly different from that started by our Founder. Marconi started a revolution in Communications which has had far reaching effects, many of which he would never have dreamed about.
The Marconi Veterans’ Association is set up to preserve for ever the name of Marconi and all the employees who have worked for this famous Company and given the best part of their lives in service for communications in Radar, Marine, Research, Satellite, Broadcasting, Avionics, Computers, Mobile Radio, Defence and many other forms of communication.
Each year, as near as possible to our Founders Birthday in April, a lunch takes place where over 250 Veterans welcome their new President and reminisce on times together with colleagues from Marconi units. They also elect at this lunch their Marconi Veterans’ Association Committee which is made up of various retired or employed members from Marconi Companies in the United Kingdom.
Peter A.T. Turrall MBE January 2003.