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The Ivory Peg

Did you know Chelmsford is home to the world’s first radio factory?

3–7 New London Road, Chelmsford, Essex, CM2 0SW
Recent excavations on the site of this former department store unearthed several finds, including an ivory tuning peg from a medieval musical instrument, probably a lyre or small harp, played by troubadours of the time.

Prints and text about world’s first radio factory and Guglielmo Marconi.

The text reads: This J D Wetherspoon pub stands on a site which was once occupied by the furniture dealers WG Wenley. Built in 1858 as a silk mill, it was later taken own by Marconi, and became the world’s first wireless factory.

Guglielmo Marconi set up his Wireless Telegraph & Signal Company in Chelmsford in the late 1890s. it was so successful that in 1912 the factory moved into larger purpose built premises in New Street.

The theory of radio waved had been developed in 1864 by Scots physicist James Clerk Maxwell, and their existence confirmed in 1888 by the experiments of Heinrich Hertz. Macaroni’s achievement was to convert the waves into electrical signals.

In 1898, Macaroni set up the first cross-channel radio link, and a few years later connected a receiving station in Newfoundland with a transmitter in Cornwall. Macaroni was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1909.

Britain’s first regular radio service began in 1922, from the Macaroni company’s Writtle Laboratories. The introduction of the service followed experimental broadcasts from the New Street site, which included a public entertainment programme featuring the singer Dame Nellie Melba.

Right: above, Guglielmo Marconi and his invention, below, the world’s first radio factory Hall Street, Chelmsford, 1898
Above: Inside the New Street wireless factory, 1912.

An illustration of the Parish Church of St Mary’s, 1820.

Illustrations of a historical Chelmsford.

Top: The Grammar School, Duke Street, 1800
Above: The Corn Exchange, Tindal Square, 1860.

A selection of paintings depicting the local area.

External photograph of the building – main entrance.

The Ivory Peg

If you have information on the history of this pub, then we’d like you to share it with us. Please e-mail all information to: