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We are proud to be associated with proposed centenary celebrations to mark the 'Birth Of British Broadcasting'. Headed by our friend, author, historian, and Marconi man, Tim Wander, plans are afoot to celebrate two significant centenary events which commemorate Chelmsford's place in history as the place where British radio 'Broadcasting' began.
On the 15th June 1920 the world famous Australian opera singer Dame Nellie Melba arrived at the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company premises in New Street, Chelmsford, to perform a live radio concert. Sponsored by the proprietor of the Daily Mail and with accompanying national publicity, the evening concert via the transmitter of 'MZX' Chelmsford was heralded a great success despite technical problems which nearly scuppered this first national entertainment broadcast.
With similar early technical problems but much less pomp and publicity, and far less, if any, financial incentive involved, the small village of Writtle on the outskirts of Chelmsford was to take its place in history less than two years later. After petitioning to the Postmaster General from the growing number of radio hams, a licence was issued to the Marconi Scientific Instrument Company Ltd to operate an experimental regular transmission station primarily for 'calibration purposes'.
By one of those strange quirks of fate that resulted in an exceptional selection of young gifted individuals being in the right place at the right time, wireless station '2MT Writtle' was to take to the airwaves on the 14th February 1922 and become the UK's first regular licenced broadcast station. 2MT quickly went on to become extremely popular amongst the many radio amateurs and enthusiasts enjoying the exciting new hobby of radio, despite only being on the air on for a few hours on Tuesday evenings, and for less than one year.
Both these events took place before the formation of the BBC in October 1922, and whilst the history of the BBC is of major importance to broadcasting, we would not want the events of June 1920 and February 1922 to be overlooked in the expected BBC centenary celebrations!
Details of the proposed centenary events will be released nearer the time. Here at Radio Emma Toc our aim is to celebrate wireless station 2MT and raise awareness of this small fledgling station which played a major role in the development of broadcasting. We wish to invoke the spirit and fun of 2MT and to involve listeners, enthusiasts and similar like minded radio stations in our celebrations. Above all we hope our celebrations will be -
'born in laughter, nurtured in laughter, - and (will) die in laughter'...
That would be a fitting tribute to Captain Peter Pendleton Eckersley and his brilliant team.