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Marconi Celebrates Radio World First

The global information age was born exactly 100 years ago tomorrow, when Guglielmo Marconi sent the first radio message from one country to another.

On 27 March 1899 the communications pioneer himself sent a wireless message in Morse code 32 miles across the English Channel from Wimereux, near Boulogne, to the South Foreland Lighthouse, near Dover.

To commemorate the event Marconi's historic transmission will be re-enacted tomorrow in the presence of his daughter, the Princess Elettra Marconi. A group of radio amateurs will send the historic message once more using the special radio callsign GB100SFL, with the co-operation of the National Trust, custodian of the lighthouse, and sponsorship by Marconi Communications.

Mike Parton, Coventry-based managing director of Marconi Communications, said:

"Today's information society has everything to thank Marconi for; although there were landline communications before his crucial transmission 100 years ago, it was the unlocking of the airwaves (then the most advanced technology available) that made mass-communication between continents a reality. On this basis the crucial importance of this first international contact cannot be underestimated; it was the first milestone along the road to creating a global village.

"Our company is extremely pleased to help celebrate this milestone and his achievement and it is particularly fitting at a time when the new Marconi Communications, heir to his genius, is still breaking new ground in state of the art communications technology."

The South Foreland Lighthouse will be open 27-28 March from 10.30-17.30 and 29 March-2 April from 12.30-17.30. Members of the public are most welcome to come along and join in the celebration.

Paul Pontone, Public Affairs Manager for the National Trust in Kent and East Sussex, said:

"We look forward to seeing many visitors on the day and over the following week. They can participate in the Marconi reconstruction, discover the lighthouse's fascinating history and climb to the top for stunning views over the surrounding countryside and even across to France!"

Marconi Communications is a world leader in smart broadband transmission and network integration. Based in the UK and Italy, it has sales to more than 140 countries and is wholly owned by GEC, a global manufacturer of intelligent electronic systems.


The National Trust is the country's leading conservation charity. It was founded in 1895 to preserve places of historic interest or natural beauty permanently for the nation to enjoy. The National Trust:

  • is independent of government
  • relies solely on the generosity of its supporters, through membership subscriptions, gifts, legacies and the contribution of many thousands of volunteers
  • protects and opens to the public over 200 historic houses and gardens and 49 industrial monuments and mills
  • owns more than 603, 000 acres of the most beautiful countryside and 575 miles of outstanding coast for people to enjoy
  • has the unique statutory power to declare land inalienable - such land cannot be sold, mortgaged or compulsorily purchased against the Trust's wishes without parliamentary procedure. This special power means that protection by the Trust is for ever for everyone.

The radio amateurs involved in the re-enactment ceremony are all members of the Barry Amateur Radio Society and have decided to enter the spirit of the occasion by wearing period Victorian costume. Self-declared 'Marconiphiles', they will use a self-built replica of Marconi's transmitter to send messages to other amateurs world-wide.

Marconi Communications Press Office 0115 9433687
Steve Judd at The National Trust on 0468 027034
Glyn Jones at the Barry Amateur Radio Society on 01446 774522.

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CWN / Business / A-Z / Marconi / 26 Mar 99

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