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  • The site is famous as the location of Poldhu Wireless Station, Guglielmo Marconi’s transmitter for the first transatlantic radio signal.  In 1899 the Royal Navy had purchased three radios for their ships and several merchant ships followed suit.  It was common belief that radio waves would travel around the earth's curvature but could only travel in straight lines.  Marconi was determined to disprove this. 

  • The station’s fifty acre (200,000 m²) plot was bought in 1900 and construction work ran from October 1900 to January 1901, designed by Marconi's senior engineer, R N Vyvyan, whilst Professor John Ambrose Fleming designed the transmitter. The original 20 mast circular cone shaped aerial was destroyed in a storm on 17 September 1901.  For Marconi’s experiments a temporary installation of two 200 foot (61 m) masts with a fan shaped aerial was used.  The transmitter operated with a power of roughly 13 kW and a wavelength usually estimated at 366 metres. Marconi and two assistants travelled to Newfoundland in December 1901 and on 12 December the pre-arranged signal of three dots (the letter ‘s’ in Morse code) was heard by Marconi on Signal Hill at St John’s.

  • Marconi and two assistants travelled to Newfoundland in December 1901 and on 12 December 1901 Guglielmo Marconi and his colleagues received an extremely short signal from Poldhu (three dots representing the code letter 's') whilst listening in at Signal Hill, St John's, Newfoundland and history was made.  Marconi had previously intended to transmit from Poldhu to Cape Cod, Massachusetts but prior to the event both stations were damaged by storms and Marconi relocated his North American destination to St John's.

  • The original mast layout was not rebuilt, but was replaced with a four lattice wooden mast design, 215 feet (66 m) high and forming a 200 foot (61 m²)  by early 1902.

  • Experiments were carried out for several years to establish a regular telegram service with Glace Bay, Nova Scotia in Canada but in 1906 a powerful low frequency station was built near Clifden, Co Galway in the Connemara region in the west of Ireland to communicate with a similar one at Glace Bay.  Poldhu continued to communicate with deep sea shipping using the callsign MPD and also transmitted a regular nightly Morse code news bulletin using the callsign ZZ.  This was used by liners to print daily newspapers, whose owners paid for the copyright.

  • In 1910 Dr Hawley Harvey Crippen boarded the SS "Montrose" bound for Quebec with his mistress, Ethel le Neve, having murdered his wife, Cora, in London.  However, Inspector Dew of Scotland Yard contacted the Captain via the new fangled radio and taking a faster ship, SS "Laurentic" intercepted the couple on the St Lawrence River.

  • In 1912 Marconi was given a free ticket to travel on the wonderful new ocean liner RMS "Titanic" but was too busy at the time and ironically travelled on the RMS "Lusitania" (torpedoed off the Old Head of Kinsale on 7 May 1915).  Although too many lives were lost when the "Titanic" sank on 15 April 1912, those saved had radio to thank as the Marconi Station at Chatham, Massachusetts was able to alert RMS "Carpathia" to pick up survivors.  International law changed after this event.  Radio watches were on hand 24 hours a day and vessels had to carry enough lifeboats for all on board.

  • The station was taken over by the Royal Navy during the First World War.

  • After the war Marconi used the site for his shortwave experiments, with transmissions by Charles Samuel Franklin to Marconi on the yacht "Elettra" in the Cape Verde Islands in 1923 and near Beirut in 1924.  The  results of these experiments took the world by surprise and quickly resulted in development of the Beam Wireless Service for the British General Post Office.  The service opened from the Bodmin Beam Station beaming to Canada on 25 October 1926, followed by the Tetney Beam Station to Australia opened on 8 April 1927, the Bodmin Beam Station to South Africa on 5 July 1927, the Dorchester Beam Station to India on 6 September 1927 and shortly afterwards to Argentina, Brazil and the United States.

  • Poldhu continued to operate as a research station until 1933.  The site was cleared in 1935 and six acres (24,000 m²) of cliff top were donated to the National Trust in 1937, with the remainder of the area added in 1960.  A granite monument was erected in November 1937 by the Marconi Company and a number of concrete foundations and earth structures also remain.  On the centenary of the first transatlantic transmission the Marconi Centre was opened close to the site by the combined efforts of the Poldhu Amateur Radio Club, National Trust and Marconi PLC.

  • The more substantial building near the site, originally the Poldhu Hotel, built in 1898 to house Marconi's workers, is currently a care home.

Prince of Wales and Princess Mary of Teck (later King George V and Queen Mary) visiting Poldhu on 18 July 1903

The Marconi Centre

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