Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Guglielmo Marconi of Cookham

Young Marconi taken around the time he lived in Cookham at the age of 22.

Young Marconi and his mother Annie Jameson

Guglielmo Marconi was born at Bologna, Italy, on April 25, 1874, the second son of Giuseppe Marconi, an Italian country gentleman, and Annie Jameson, daughter of Andrew Jameson (Irish Whiskey) of Daphne Castle in the County Wexford, Ireland. He was educated privately at Bologna, Florence and Leghorn. Even as a boy he took a keen interest in physical and electrical science and studied the works of James Clerk Maxwell, Heinrich Hertz, and Sir Oliver Lodge Lodge and others, under the watchful eye of Auguste Righi, his mentor. In 1895 he began laboratory experiments at his father's country estate at Pontecchio where he succeeded in sending wireless signals over a distance of one and a one half miles.

In about 1896 his mother brought him to Cookham to stay with his cousin Dr. Henry Jameson Davis who lived at the end of High Road and Whiteladyes Land called “Hillyers” where he continued with his experiments in a small laboratory. His cousin was influential in his meeting Mr. (later) Sir William Preece Chief Engineer of the General Post Office. It was through Sir William that young Marconi was able to demonstrate his wireless apparatus at various places in the country.

In 1898 Marconi founded the “Wireles Telegraph and Signal Company Limited”, building the first radio factory at Chelmsford in Essex, in which his cousin played a major role.

Other factors in this man's amazing life can be found in history books and from other sources. Only his stay in Cookham is not documented until now. Marconi died in Rome, in 1937, after suffering several heart attacks at the age of 63.

One other piece of trivia which has come to light is that the house “Hillyers” was once the home of the author Kenneth Graham. He was quoted as saying that Cookham Dean was too rough a place for his wife. He must have changed his mind as they did move to “Mayfield” in the Dean.

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