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This version was saved 2 years, 11 months ago View current version     Page history
Saved by Alan Hartley-Smith
on April 25, 2017 at 5:23:41 pm




The name Marconi has been associated with the concept of detection of objects by reflection of radio waves since the earliest experiments of Guglielmo Marconi himself; he speculated in a lecture in 1922 that by the design of suitable equipment the presence of ships could be revealed in fog or thick weather.


It is therefore fitting that a group of colleagues should get together to set down a record and their recollections of the many ways in which British companies which eventually came together under the Marconi banner translated these early ideas from both government sponsored research and private venture work into the world's most successful ranges of equipment to provide the service of what became known as RADAR. The earliest equipment, developed in a remarkably short timescale, played a vital role in both defence and offence during the second World War.


Postwar later developments enabled internationally, on both land, sea and air, continuing military security and the safety and expedition of air traffic for the burgeoning civil airline business.


This was backed by the unique capabilities of the Great Baddow Research Laboratories, highlighted here and in a separate wiki here.



Radar is an acronym for Radio  Detection and Ranging and was developed in the UK under its original cover name of RDF - Radio Direction Finding - during the late 1930s in preparation for defence against anticipated German aggression. Marconi involvement was initially as a provider of key elements for the transmission arrays of the metric CH system and general engineering, later in developing and producing the newly-designed magnetron for centimetric systems at its laboratories at Great Baddow and a new Valve works, and in manufacturing in the New Street works in Chelmsford. Work was also carried out on re-engineering systems for different applications. Post-war a decision was taken to enter the market to provide complete radar systems - the birth and progress of this initiative is the core of this History. However, in the course of time various mergers and takeovers resulted in one radar company that incorporated virtually all of the major companies that have been responsible for radar development in the UK so their stories are also integrated within the History. 


A prominent Marconi engineer wrote a series of articles for the MRSL newspaper "News and Views", one of which very clearly expounds the rationale for substantiating the claim of Britain to be the first successful developer of radar into an operational defence system; as this is frequently disputed by some commentators it is worth highlighting as part of our History. This article was written circa 1987 but is just as relevant today.


A significant anniversary was celebrated in 2015 - 28 February 2015 - 80th Anniversary of the Birth of British Radar - being the practical solution emerging from the theoretical work described in this article.



A summary of the amazing range of electronic aids developed during WW2.


A presentation which covers Marconi radar equipment from WW2 through to that being developed by the successor company.


A compendium of major achievements.


Submissions for a proposed new Marconi company history for the centenary in 1997 made by several senior members of staff, which encapsulate in a personal manner much of the evolution of radar. Although this official record never materialised these comprehensive submissions have survived in the archives and can now be accessed from the individual entries in the People section.


A particular example of how Marconi Radar has played its part in world events.


A Silver Jubilee brochure produced in 1994 for Marconi Radar Systems that gives a good overall view of the achievements up to this date.


A promotional film made circa 1968 which has a particular section on radar.



The History is divided into sections each covering specific aspects. Each section has links to related topics in both other sections and external sources to provide development of detail in depth along a chosen line of interest. 

Chronology      Equipment      Installations      Organisation      Locations      People      Charivaria



Throughout the History references are made to a source of information rather than duplicating that source. Many of these references are hypertext links which show more detail immediately, but there are also printed sources from which extracts have been made. To enable readers to consult the source themselves for the full story the detailed references are listed here.


The Present

This is a History but it is interesting to see what our successors are doing now and for the future.


Just to prove there is still a need for a history to educate people - a story from Geoff Merriday:

My daughter is in her second year at Tufts Medical University in Boston, so we visited a few months back and took one of the city tours. The guide pointed out MIT (Massachusetts Institution of Technology) and then said "This is where RADAR was invented". I'm sorry but even with my wife trying to hold me down I had to get up and correct this obvious error. Even though I am now a US citizen (I have dual citizenship) I am always amazed at how the Americans always assume they started everything!



This wiki is being managed and edited by a volunteer Marconi Radar Systems Archive Team using material sourced from MOGS, a group of  ex-Marconi colleagues. MRSAT would be pleased to receive constructive comments; such comments can be added at the foot of each page by subscribed readers. Should you find that you do not have the necessary permission to add comments, please click the link at the top right of the page which reads "To join this workspace, request access". Alternatively, the workspace owner can be contacted via the "Contact the Owner" link at the foot of the workspace frame.

The wiki principle of multiple authorship applies to this document and appropriate persons may be given write access to add to the wiki.


Additionally there is a Facebook Page which has been created for informal comments, discussions, recollections and proposals for future additions to the Wiki.


It should be noted that the main bulk of the content has been generated from their memories by individuals who came together in their professional careers within the orbit of the Marconi organisation to work on research in electronics and in particular the field of radar. As such, the web site content should be of interest to members of the present company, as well as radar people in general.


By definition all factual company information remains in the ownership of the past and present owners of the Marconi-named companies and their successors, and where applicable that of other individuals and organisations. Although not necessarily detailed at every point this is duly acknowledged and the maxim of fair usage is applied. If anyone believes a source is incorrectly attributed or used please leave a comment in the relevant area.



An exhibition was held from the 11th March to the 29th May 2016 at the original Marconi Wireless Telegraph Works in Hall Street, Chelmsford. There is a 16 minute YouTube video covering the opening and a preview of the exhibition. In addition the old Works hosted a series of talks by prominent speakers and a compendium of video recordings of these can be accessed on the Marconi Heritage Group website. An associated book may also be purchased. Further details can be found here


There is now a followup exhibition based on the Titanic Story being held in the new Bond Street shopping complex from April until June 2017 open from Thursday to Sunday.


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