No reliable reason

I AM familiar with the arguments Mr Cole gives to support his belief that Weston was concerned in the 1897 Post Office trials of Marconi s wireless system in the Bristol Channel, but regrettably can find no reliable reason to suppose that our town played

I AM familiar with the arguments Mr Cole gives to support his belief that Weston was concerned in the 1897 Post Office trials of Marconi's wireless system in the Bristol Channel, but regrettably can find no reliable reason to suppose that our town played a part in that truly important event.

Marconi's men were on Brean Down for only one day and would have had no time or need for getting batteries charged at Leaver's. The transmission from Wales to Brean Down was not the main reason for the trails: that was to prove to sceptical scientists that the system could transmit across water, which it did from Flat Holm to Lavernock Point. The whole thing was managed in Wales, a transmission from Lavernock to Brean Down was only to be attempted if the Flat Holm trial had been successful. It was, so a tugboat was hired to transport the receiving apparatus across to Brean Down. That trial, too, was successful and ended when the Morse inker ran out of ink. The gear was then sailed back to Wales and, after a few days being exhibited locally in a field at Lavernock, was taken by Marconi and his assistant back to London.

Popular confusion probably arose from the Post Office trying to replicate Marconi's success two years later in 1899-1900 after Marconi had broken bitterly with the Post Office and gone off to America. There can be little doubt that the men seen on Brean Down and who employed boatmen and had batteries charged at Leaver's were the Post Office engineers involved; the man residing at the coastguard's cottage was probably in charge, and certainly not Marconi who in 1897 had stayed in a hotel at Penarth.

ERIC WESTMAN


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Furland Road, Weston

Editor's Note: This correspondence is now closed.

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