INTRODUCTORY SPEECH AT HALL STREET CEREMONY ON APRIL 13, 2015.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Sea Cadets and Marconi Veterans thank you for attending tonight’s unique ceremony, on the eve of the sinking of a ship they said was unsinkable
"My name is Chris Neale, I am chair of the Marconi Heritage Group, but tonight I represent the Old Moulsham and Central Committee Trust that had the original vision for this ceremony.
It’s a special night because it is the first time that citizens of Chelmsford and the people of Essex have commemorated the part played by this, Marconi’s first wireless factory, here in Hall Street.
Marconi took over what was originally a Silk Mill back in 1898 and through his inventive genius it played a vital role in the rescue of 700 survivors of the Titanic disaster when it sank overnight on April 14 and 15th 1912.
Two young Marconi wireless telegraphy officers, Harold Bride and Jack Phillips bravely tapped out the SOS that alerted other shipping to the impending doom and Jack went down with the liner, still sending out the vital alert.
The piece of equipment these heroic young men made good use of was made right here inside this building.
Marconi always knew that his equipment would be vital in saving lives at sea and his company were already in the process of building a bigger factory in New St., Chelmsford which was then to see its order books filled by the demands of shipping lines all over the world as direct result of this dramatic event.
The new, purpose built factory was constructed in a matter of 17 weeks and the Hall St. manufacturing was transferred there over a single weekend and subsequently closed down.
The Trust is right now sending out its own SOS message in a bid to ‘save’ part of this iconic building for the nation
A heritage task force Marconi Science WorX is currently negotiating with the local developer who has bought this building with planning permission for six apartments and commercial space.
Our thanks tonight are directed chiefly to the Chelmsford Sea Cadets of HMS Upholder
They have admirably risen to the challenge of honouring the role played by the men and women who worked in this factory - to whom so many seafarers, including those serving particularly in the Royal Navy, Merchant Navy owe their lives."
BACKGROUND: An SOS to raise £350,000 to ‘save’ part of the iconic Marconi building for the nation is being sent out by the newly formed Old Moulsham and Central Community Trust
The Trust has set up a heritage task force Marconi Science WorX to negotiate with the local developer who has bought the very first Marconi Wireless and Telegraphy Works in Hall Street with planning permission for six apartments and commercial space.
Not only is Hall Street the first Marconi works in the UK, but, if the task force is successful, it will be the only former Marconi building in the country dedicated to the great man and encouraging young boffins of the future.
Although much of the former New Street Marconi HQ has been saved from the bulldozer by developers, it is now entirely apartments and commercial premises.
Marconi Science WorX aims to obtain the former wireless factory’s ground floor for community use.
They aim to dedicate the very building which made the equipment that saved more than 700 Titanic survivors - and to look to the future to encourage young scientific inventors and entrepreneurs to be inspired by Marconi’s legacy..
Ros Webb, who also chair of the Friends of Chelmsford Museum, said: “ Its first aim is to purchase or rent, and refurbish the ground floor to provide a dynamic, multifunctional space where the history of Marconi’s pioneering work can be displayed together with an area where our young people can experiment, in a safe environment, with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math at regular STEM Clubs to encourage a new generation to pursue science careers and help bridge the skills gap.”
They also want to provide much needed community space in Moulsham that local groups can hire for a range of activities that could include arts and crafts, talks and exhibitions (especially Marconi) as well as a community café with modern toilet facilities.
Chris Neale, chair of the Marconi Heritage Group: “This is the very last opportunity for Chelmsford and its residents to save a piece of Marconi history in the City that welcomes people to Chelmsford – Birthplace of Radio."