Marconi & the Tower


The above picture is of a young Marconi photographed in London shortly after his arrival in February 1896. In front of him is the wireless apparatus he brought with him from Italy. A Righi oscillator (part of the transmitter) is on the left, while on the right, a Morse sounder sits on top of a wooden box which contained a self-tapping conherer and a relay, making up the receiver. On the front of the box are two copper strips which acted as a receiving aerial.

15th August 1904, the Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1904 became law giving the Post Master Gerneral responsibility for administering wireless telegraphy in Britain and Ireland. The establishment of any wireless telegraphy station for transmitting or receiving on land or on board any British ship was only permitted under a special license granted by the Post Office and failure to comply with this Act could mean a term of imprisonment of up to twelve months with hard labour. Up to this time the number of wireless telegraphy stations around the British Isles (including transmitting and receiving stations run by amateur experimenters) had been growing steadily and the Government saw that legislation was needed in order to secure adequate control of all such installations.

balscadde1In 1905, a Marconi station was installed at the Martello Tower in Howth and a series of signal tests were carried out between the station and the H. M. telegraph ship Monarch as it travelled between Howth and Holyhead.  The importance of these trials was there was at last available an accurate instrument (the thermogalcanometer – designed by W. Duddell) that was sensitive enough to measure the small currents in the receiving antenna.  

Within 9 years from his arrival in London Marconi had established himself and his wireless telegraphy system at the heart of the British Empire.

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