The U.S. National Marconi Museum
by Eric Peachey Ex Director & Secretary Marconi Electronics Stanmore (previously with MIMCo)
Whilst on holiday in New England my wife and I took the opportunity to visit the Marconi Museum in Bedford, New Hampshire named after Bedford, England where Marconi spent much of his childhood.
We travelled up from Massachusetts on the Wednesday morning on what turned out to be a very hot and sunny day. But with air conditioning in the car and in the Museum building it was not a problem. Bedford itself is a small town with an attractive New England style traditional wooden church. The Museum is very close by and, as one would expect in America, has its own car park.
The Museum is open most days and although it is not necessary to book a visit, we had made a specific date in order to ensure that we met Ray Minichiello the creator and owner of the Museum. He had only just returned from New York following the presentation to him by the Veteran Wireless Operators Association of the Marconi Gold Medal of Achievement in recognition of his enthusiasm and dedication for and contribution to the memory of Marconi the man as well as the history of communications in general.
We were met shortly after our arrival by Ray who had arranged a reception for us of his colleagues. This was Ray’s first opportunity to show the Gold Medal to everyone present and we felt privileged to see it. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming. On behalf of the Marconi Veterans’ Association I presented to the Museum the Presentation pack containing the Marconi coin issued by The Royal Mint together with other items donated by Peter Turrall and myself.
We then toured the Museum, which has a considerable amount of equipment both historic and contemporary, some donated or on loan with an obvious bias towards that of American manufacture and in particular Raytheon and that of the RCA Company (the latter being, of course, the successor to the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America). Not only did the exhibits consist of all the usual equipment Marconi Veterans would associate with communication and radar but also other items of interest such as reel-to-reel tape recorders, 1950’s domestic radios, old microphones and an Edison cylinder phonograph. There is a lot of equipment stored below stairs at the moment and there are exciting plans to revamp the Museum and thereby increase the display space. There is a small but comprehensive library of technical books and other publications, which are freely available for reference purposes to visitors to the Museum.
During lunch I was interviewed by a reporter/photographer from the local press and met the Town Manager (the equivalent of an English Mayor) who had come over to the Museum especially. Many pictures were taken during our visit by the three photographers present (my wife, the press photographer and the unofficial Museum photographer).
The Museum is most interesting and well worth a visit if you are in the area. You will most certainly receive a warm welcome and do make a point of introducing yourself to one of the team. If anyone has any items of equipment or archive material which they would like to donate or loan to the Museum please contact our Vice-Chairman, Peter Turrall.