Birth of radio marked on IW

Tuesday (December 5) was the 126th anniversary of radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi’s first transmissions from the world’s first permanent wireless station at Alum Bay.

The occasion was marked by the presentation of a plaque, confirming the site has been awarded the status of a World Origin Site, which identifies a place or building where something truly ground-breaking was invented, discovered or first used.

General manager of the Needles Landmark Attraction, Marino Zanti, was honoured to receive the recognition, supported by local historian, Tim Wander, in front of the world-famous Marconi Monument. The monument marks the location of the pioneering work at the end of the 19th Century, which led to radio and all telecommunications as we know it today.

Marconi (1874-1937) travelled to Britain in 1896, and conducted a series of pioneering trials across the country, convincing him that the equipment he invented could become the basis of a viable ‘wire-less’ communication system. The first permanent wireless station in the world was built at the Royal Needles Hotel, on a cliff-top high above Alum Bay, in November 1897.

Marconi experimented day and night, working with the Mayflower and Solent tugs, sailing between Bournemouth, Swanage and Alum Bay, on improving transmission reliability. By 1900 the station had served its purpose and was dismantled and moved to Niton. With long-distance communications by that time a reality, the Isle of Wight was recognised as its birthplace.

Tim Wander, said: “What Marconi achieved changed the world forever and made it a far smaller place to live in.

“Easily passed by so many without a second glance, please make the time to visit and take a moment to read the plaques and wonder at the story they tell, because amazing things happened at this place.”