Marconi New Street hopes of heritage centre vanish
Peter Turrall, Chairman, MVA
The chances of Marconi Veterans setting up a heritage centre in the front building of Marconiâ€™s in New Street have virtually vanished. The new owners of the site, Messrs Ashwell of Cambridge, are in administration and there is no doubt that the site will eventually be sold on. Marconi Veterans would have been given by Ashwells up to Â£50K for the building to be upgraded and set up as a public viewing heritage centre portraying all that Marconiâ€™s manufactured and constructed over a period of one hundred years. With co-operation from Chelmsford Museum Services and particularly the Industrial Museum at Sandford Mill this would have been a wonderful portrayal of all Marconiâ€™s achievements.
The windows facing New Street have been boarded up and vandalism inside the building has already taken place as security on the site is minimal. Part of the complex has been given planning permission for a car park but it is unlikely that the pro-posed skyscraper flats and other modernisations, including a heritage trail and improvements to the Chelmsford railway station will ever be completed. This is a very sad story but nothing can be done until new owners are appointed and possibilities of including heritage etc. are discussed with them. This could take up to five years or more.
An opportunity arose just before Christmas to view the original Marconi Wireless and Telegraph Company factory in Hall Street Chelmsford which was opened in 1899. Anglian Water, who owns the site, will be vacating shortly to new headquarters at Hanningfield reservoir. The site will be sold for housing, mainly conversion of existing buildings into flats, and unfortunately this too will befall the Marconi part of the site.
The old engine house built in the 1850s will become available for rental, subject to the necessary planning permissions, where it is hoped an Arts and Heritage Centre can be established. In due course our Committee will be examining the possibility of setting up some of our equipment and ephemera here but the attraction has somewhat diminished now that we cannot do this in the original Marconi factory.