THIS month Essex will mark the centenary of the first ever public entertainment broadcast from Chelmsford by pioneering company Marconi, and the people behind the celebrations have not been deterred by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The series of events planned this month to commemorate Marconi’s centenary will now be livestreamed to audiences across Essex and beyond.

They include a live radio play of the Marconi story with a recreation of the ground-breaking first broadcast by opera star Dame Nellie Melba who sang across the airwaves on 15 June 1920.

Among the individuals bringing the historic radio event to life are author, playwright and specialist consultant to Chelmsford City Museums, Tim Wander; playwright Felicity Fair Thompson; former Marconi engineer Alan Hartley-Smith; and local historian Alan Pamphilon who worked for a Marconi company EEV (now Teledyne e2v).

Alan Pamphilon, who has produced a virtual walking tour from Marconi’s first factory in Hall Street to the second premises at New Street, said: “Being associated with Marconi and the city which brought the electronic age to the world, gives me great pride.

“The centenary is a chance to highlight Marconi’s phenomenal achievements and all those many local people who made it possible. The Marconi legacy is still very much alive today through the innovations and breakthroughs of those who now work for Essex companies that have evolved from Marconi’s early roots.”

The Marconi celebrations, which form a major part of ‘Essex 2020’, a year-long celebration of science and creativity across the county, include:

10 June - Dame Nellie Sings! A night that changed the World - Tim Wander tells the story of Marconi’s journey to the momentous transmission in 1920.

15 June – Radio play ‘The Power Behind the Microphone: The First Radio Broadcast Centenary’ including a recreation of the revolutionary broadcast livestreamed by Chelmsford City Theatre at the exact date and time of the original 100 years ago. BBC Essex and Chelmsford Community Radio will also broadcast the play as part of special Marconi programmes.

16 June – A World without Marconi - Alan Hartley-Smith discusses Marconi’s outstanding contribution to the world of technology.

22 June - Hello CQ! This is Writtle 2MT calling - Tim Wander relays the story of radio station 2MT in Writtle and its charismatic leader Peter Eckersley who became Britain’s first regular radio broadcaster and the first Chief Engineer of the new BBC.

County Hall Essex 2020 boss Dick Madden said: “Essex 2020 is all about celebrating the county’s pioneering past and present day innovators so there is no question about the key role the incredible and inspiring Marconi story must play in this.

“The many different people and partner organisations involved with the Marconi celebrations are continuing the spirit of innovation and creativity demonstrated by Marconi 100 years ago and imaginatively adapting their plans in response to Covid-19 - I can’t thank them enough. Essex is truly proud of the legacy of Marconi and the invention of radio which changed the world forever.”

Key organisations that have been instrumental in bringing the Marconi celebrations to life include Chelmsford City Council, Chelmsford City Museums, Chelmsford City Theatre, Chelmsford Civic Society, Chelmsford Science and Engineering Society, Essex Records Office and former Marconi company Leonardo in Basildon.

Further Marconi themed events are scheduled throughout the year including an exhibition at Hylands House, the unveiling of commemorative plaques and a series of events on ‘The Future of Wireless’.

For more information about all the Marconi celebration events visit