Newsletter 2013

Marconi New Street building receives a face-lift

Please click on the title Newsletter 2013 above to open the full document and on any picture in this newsletter to open a larger version.

Peter Turrall MVA Chairman

Above, the New Street factory in its youth, circa 1918, from a postcard containing one of Fred Spalding’s splendid photographs of Chelmsford.  The reverse carries the following message: “Dear Dorothy, I thought you would like these of the place where I am working.  This one is when we are leaving off.  I hope you receive my letter. With love from Dorothy.”
Another Spalding postcard image appears on the back page.

Bellway Homes, whose headquarters are in Rainsford Road Chelmsford, has purchased the Marconi site in New Street. Following two exhibitions at the Anglia Ruskin University where they showed plans of the possible redevelopment of the site, they have now submitted plans to the Chelmsford City Council for modifications to the front building and small demolition immediately behind this which was the old Television Test area. The plans also include retention and updating of the water tower which is along Marconi Road. Detailed plans of the rest of the site which take into consideration comments made at the two exhibitions by members of the public will be submitted in 2013 and will contain requirements for over four hundred houses and other small outlets. It is hoped that recognition of some of the major achievements associated with the Marconi Company will be included in the general layout of the site.

The Marconi Veterans Association has already had preliminary discussions with the owners: in due course it is hoped these will lead to us helping them establish and possibly exhibiting some of the artefacts of the company within the front building.

The whole front area which had been neglected by the previous owners for a number of years was tidied up by the local authority when it was known the Olympic flame was to pass by on its way to the city centre. (The damaged ground floor window apertures were covered by protective panels decorated with images representing the history of the site. The photo on the left was taken as the Olympic torch was passing the building on the 6th July last year. Ed.) Now the building is completely shrouded by plastic sheets and scaffolding whilst repairs are carried out to the leaking roof, and the window sills and front façade are repaired. The owners hope with internal modifications such as exhibition area, offices and new toilets, this building will be open as Bellway Homes new headquarters in the spring of 2013.


Whilst exact details of the rest of the site are unclear at this stage, it is proposed to knock down the five storey concrete building known as Marconi House and also the wavy roof building known as Building 720. Although a number of objections to the removal of these two buildings have been made, it is understood both will not be in line with the modernisation of the rest of the site. In addition Marconi House is suffering from severe concrete cancer.

At least the front building, which celebrated its centenary in 2012, will be preserved and the many memories of staff and the products they produced will still be exhibited within the new complex.

Be sure to read Alan Hartley-Smith on page 5 regarding future preservation of the Marconi Heritage.