Newsletter 2013

Marconi in Television

David Samways,, January 2013

As you may remember I run a website for Marconi apprentices in the 1950s+ called the Marconi OldFellows (MOFS). This is going very well and currently covers ex-apprentices from 1946 to 1980 with more coming out of the woodwork monthly. However, now is the time to expand. (The Marconi OldFellows site was started by David following the report of discussions he had been having with me, Chris Gardiner and MOGS member Mike Plant in the 2011 Newsletter. It is now well established and well worth a look. David wants any ex-apprentice reading this who can contribute in any way to get in touch with him. Ed).

Tenuous connection to the article by David Samways perhaps, but he lives in Australia and the cargo on the floating crane barge on the Thames is the third one of three television outside broadcast vans bound for ABC Television (Australia), in the process of being shipped to Sydney. This photo appeared in the January 1964 edition of the house magazine ‘Marconi companies and their people’

Fifty years ago Marconi was a formidable force in a number of areas and whilst there are still people alive and kicking I thought their experiences should be tapped without delay. Based on the successful process taken by Alan Hartley-Smith and Ian Gillis in developing the wiki* for ‘Marconi in Radar’ I am taking the idea further by documenting other areas in which Marconi so deserved.

The prime subject being addressed at the moment is ‘Marconi in Television’ which covers camera and microphone to aerial, and everything in between. This has had massive momentum especially in the years of 1952, 1964, 1969 and 1980 where parts of some documents have been able to be scanned, thanks primarily to the efforts of Martyn Clarke. At this time it is a private site with some dozen members but more are required. New members have to be registered having indicated their brief credentials. Most will probably be ex-Marconi employees but in the future some could well be from say television stations, museums, restorers and so on who had formed close relationships with Marconi equipment in the early days. Tyre-kickers are not required.

There are two other wikis in course of preparation: ‘Marconi in Broadcasting’ and ‘Marconi in Communications’. The latter one unfortunately only includes two 1960 projects (which I was involved with) the USAF Microwave one and the Nigerian VHF one because I have been unable to find more than a couple of people who participated in such projects. Again both of these wikis are private at this time.

The prime reason for these wikis being private is because of potential copyright issues. These are being addressed by Alan Hartley-Smith and others with BAE the holders of the Marconi copyright.

I personally would like to see all the wikis publicised in the MVA newsletter (and MOGS) because there is no other way of getting input whilst people are still around to give it. Also, it provides a very good focus point for retirees and it is a great hobby. Who knows, many may have old documents such as catalogues and data sheets in their attics and I am sure their partners would be only too pleased to see them go – to a worthy cause of course! (The newsletter will be carrying information about all of these wikis as and when we are given information about them. Links to them will also be posted on the website together with other relevant information as appropriate. Ed)

Would any members of the Marconi Veterans Association consider sharing their experiences, including anecdotes, and become part of the team to document the history of such a fine company that once employed us all? If so, they can contact me directly, with a brief overview of their appropriate experience, at Looking forward to many responses!

* A wiki is a website that allows users to add and update content on the site using their own web browser. This is made possible by specialised wiki software (we use PBworks) that runs on the web server. Wikis end up being created mainly by a collaborative effort of the site users. The site administrator has the ability to grant different access levels to each user such as ‘view only’ and ‘edit’. A great example of a large wiki is the Wikipedia, a free encyclopaedia in many languages that anyone can edit.

In the wikis I refer to I have made everyone ‘view only’ which means inputs are via email and the moderator (me in this case) has the final say. I will probably change this over time but at present I feel it is prudent to maintain some editorial control.