Archive for December 2023

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Avebury, Marconi & the wireless station that never was
In 1923 the Marconi Company were interested in purchasing several thousand acres of land at Avebury for the construction of a wireless station. Concerns were raised regarding the impact on the archaeology of the area and Alexander Keiller famously purchased Windmill Hill to protect it from the construction of masts. The 1920s were are period of rapid technological development in wireless communication and it is unclear what the company intended to build at the site; references to 800 feet high masts may infer a long wave station that was actually constructed by the GPO at Rugby. However, at this time Marconi experimentation with short waves led to the development of the Marconi Beam Wireless system that had many advantages over long waves for long distance communication. Radio press releases at the time may infer that the company intended to construct a number of beam stations at Avebury, and possibly a sister station to Rugby Radio. Although there was opposition to Marconi's intentions at Avebury by the archaeological community, the Wiltshire Archaeological Society did not raise any objections; however, some members felt that the committee had been schmoozed by Marconi and disagreed. The wireless station was never built although this may have been as much to do with politics and technological factors along with the archaeological concerns.
Posted on 11 December 2023
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