Marconi connection to Holyhead

Guglielmo Marconi

Guglielmo Marconi was born in Bologna, Italy in his family’s town house in 1874. His mother Annie was Irish, and as a child he travelled around a great deal with her, whilst his father Guiseppe stayed in Ville Grifone – their country seat. At 10.48am on 21st May 1901, the first ever ship to shore radio message from the Atlantic was picked by by a tiny post, set up by Marconi, at 66 Queen’s Park, Holyhead. It happened when an attempt was made to make a test radio transmission from a ship to Crookhaven in southern Ireland. Instead, contact was made with the Marconi post in Holyhead, using a Marconi Wireless Telegraph and a 400ft mast to receive and send transmissions from the ship to shore. The passenger boat the SS Lake Chaplain travelling from Liverpool to Halifax in Nova Scotia picked up the Morse signal. Mr. David Sean Davies was the telegraphist responsible for sending the message from the house at Queen’s Park. Mr. Davies was contracted to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week! This got him into trouble with his minister because he could not attend Church services each Sunday. When Mr. Davies explained his absence, the reply he had from the Minster was “Only God with all his wisdom can speak unto man and not be seen. No good will come of the gadgetry!” It is believed that Marconi was on Anglesey sometime at the turn of the century. It is known that he was trying to buy land at Nebo near Pensarn, and may have even paid a visit to Holyhead during this time. His daughter, Princess Elettra Marconi unveiled a plaque to the memory of her father in Ireland at the Co. Wicklow Radio Club’s special radio event and exhibition

Christina Maria Bella Scali (Wife)The S.S. Lake Chaplain & the equipment used

Princess Elettra came to Holyhead to see the house that had been her fathers’ radio station and she visited the J. O’Toole Centre to see the exhibition to celebrate her fathers’ life and works. The town did her proud as she was met by the Mayor Cllr. Jeff Evans and his wife Trudy, the Chief Executive of the Anglesey County Council, the town Councillors, and many more important personnel. There was press coverage from both Welsh and English newspapers and the BBC. After a viewing of the exhibition the Ynys Mon Radio Users Group representatives and all the officials had a wonderful buffet lunch with the Lord Mayor and his wife. The Princess Elettra took the salute of the Royal Welsh Guards, dressed in full ceremonial dress as they marched passed with full band playing in the town. They played many tunes to the great delight of the Princess who fell in love with the “wonderful uniforms” of bright red. Local school children made great ambassadors for Wales, accompanying the visitors and making wonderful guides around the town. Following speeches in the town square by the Mayor, Captain of the Guards, and the Princess, there was a special opening of the Maritime Museum, for the Princess. This was followed by tea at the British Legion, with veterans who remembered radio use during the war. In the evening the Princess was invited to a supper with the Ynys Mon Radio Users Group and met other members of the group in a relaxing atmosphere overlooking the sea. Guglielmo Marconi died in 1937, and will always be known world- wide as the “father of radio”.