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Marconi International Marine Communication Company - MIMCO

Page history last edited by Alan Hartley-Smith 1 month, 1 week ago

Editors note - January 2022

A new book has been published that is very relevant to the purpose of this wiki, namely "All Ships, All Ships" - a history of the short-&- medium-range coast radio stations in Great Britain"  written by Larry Bennett, an ex-Radio Officer. The network was originated by Marconi and Lloyds then operated by the British Post Office, running from the 1920s to 2000. We have received a courtesy copy having cooperated as a source of information, currently held by me but destined for the Chelmsford archive when we get one, so I can be contacted for queries, or copies can be obtained via Amazon worldwide https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1800311451 or signed copies from Larry via the GKA website at www.portisheadradio.co.uk


Another relevant book, namely "Marconi" - the man who networked the world, written by Marc Raboy, has a lot of background information on the early days. 



The first British Marconi Company was formed in July 1897. It then went by the name of the Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company, Limited, but was later changed to Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Company, Limited. The stated objects of the Company were to institute regular telegraphic services nationally and internationally, and negotiations were carried on between the Company and the British Post Office for many years.


As Marconi had intended from the start, the feature which would appeal to everyone was the fact that his invention enabled telegraphic communication without the aid of wires to be established between lighthouses and lightships and the shore, and for ships at sea to communicate with and to warn each other and to receive warning from lighthouses and lightships and the shore, for in foggy weather this would be a very great safeguard against accidents and of immense benefit to the shipping community. The advantages of wireless to underwriters and the marine insurance world may have been fairly obvious so far as the safety of the ships themselves was concerned, but was also of value in regard to the insurance of cargoes. There had been many instances in which the course of a vessel had been diverted owing to dock disputes and for other reasons and orders given for the discharge of cargo in a port other than that originally intended. Much perishable material could now be saved from destruction and consequent claims on insurance companies obviated.


Marconi made the first transmission of signals over water in May 1897. A series of demonstrations were carried out across the Bristol Channel. Signals were transmitted from Lavernock Point, near Penarth, to the Island of Flat Holm in the Bristol Channel, a distance of three and a half miles, and to Brean Down, Somerset, a distance of nine miles. In December 1898 it was considered desirable to demonstrate the practicability of the system between lightships and the shore, and, with the permission of Trinity House, experiments were carried out between the South Foreland Lighthouse and the East Goodwin Lightship twelve miles distant. The apparatus was taken out to the lightship in an open boat, rigged up in one afternoon and set to work immediately without the slightest difficulty. Once there it continued to work admirably for over two years, during which time it played a part in saving several vessels and a number of lives. In one case it was proved in the Admiralty Court that property to the value of £52,588 was saved as the result of one short wireless message reporting that a steamer had grounded on the Goodwins. Thus very early in its history wireless proved its value to shipping as a means of safeguarding life and property.


Prior to 1904, it was free to anyone to put up stations in the United Kingdom for communicating with places outside the United Kingdom or with ships outside the three-mile limit. It was, therefore, quite unnecessary for the Company to ask permission or to obtain a licence to do so. When a licence had been refused to the Company for communicating within the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom - that is, inside territorial waters - the Company started unaided to develop its own system of shore stations for communicating with ships at sea.


The Marconi International Marine Communication Company Limited was founded in April 1900, at which point the parent company had twelve such stations, all put up entirely at the Company’s expense, without any Government licence, contract, agreement or assurance of any kind. The authorised capital for the new company was £350,000 divided into 350,000 shares of £1 each.


The First Directors

M. de Voider, President de la Banque d’Outremer and Director of ‘La Societe Generale, Brussels’, President.

Major S. Flood Page, Managing Director of Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Company, Limited.

M. le Colonel Thys, Managing Director of the Banque d’Outremer and Managing Director of the Congo Railway Companies, Brussels. Managing Director for the Continent.

Mr. G. Marconi, Director and Technical Adviser of Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Company, Limited.

Technical Adviser. M. Balser, Banker, Brussels.

Mr. J. F. G. Ballantyne, D.L., Director of Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Company, Limited.

Colonel Sir Charles Euan-Smith, K.C.B., Chairman of Cape Electrical Railways.

Herr Adolph von Hansemann, of the ‘Disconto Gesellschaft’, Berlin.

Senor Moret Y. Prendergast, ex-Minister of Colonies, Madrid.

M. Naegelmaeckers, Managing Director of the ‘Compagnie Internationale des Wagon-lits’, Paris.

M. Albert L. Ochs, of Messrs. Ochs Brothers, London and Paris.

M. Renouard, Vice President of the ‘Banque de Paris et des Pays-Bas’, Paris.

M. Charles Roux, Vice-President of the Suez Canal Company, Paris and Marseilles.

Mr. Henry S. Saunders, Director of Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Company, Limited.


The Company's Aims

In the prospectus it was proposed to add other representative gentlemen, and the prospectus stated:

The above company has been formed for the purpose of working throughout the world, except in the United States of America, Hawaii, Chile, and colonies or dependencies of those states, an exclusive licence for all maritime purposes to be granted by Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Company, Limited. In Great Britain and Italy the licence is limited to maritime mercantile and yachting purposes, and does not extend elsewhere to vessels forming part of the Navy of Great Britain or Italy. Mr. Marconi’s wireless telegraphy will not only add to the safety and security of the vast fleets of passenger and trading vessels navigating all seas, but it may reasonably be anticipated that it will be the means of creating a sea telegraph business which will add considerably to the revenue of the existing Government telegraphs. The directors will endeavour to work hand-in-hand with all Governments whose interests seem for the most part identical with those of the Company. It will be seen that the Company is “international” inasmuch as the directors represent British, German, French, Belgian, Italian, and Spanish interests, and they hope to establish marine wireless telegraphy on a sound commercial basis practically throughout the world. The influence of the directors will be used to the utmost to establish and extend the business in England, on the Continent of Europe, and elsewhere. Shares are only offered at present to the shareholders of Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Company, Limited, and the terms of issue are stated below. It was also stated that Mr. Marconi had accepted the position of Technical Adviser to the Company for three years with a seat on the Board.


The circular and prospectus was signed by Henry W. Allen, F.C.I.S., Secretary, and was issued from 18, Finch Lane, London, E.C., on June 18, 1900. The auditors were Messrs. Cooper Brothers and Company, the Manager Mr. H. Cuthbert Hall, and the Marine Superintendent Captain C. V. Daly.


In April 1950 the Jubilee of the Company was celebrated and recorded in the relevant issue of the Mariner


Later names

In 1962 Marconi International Marine Communication Company changed its name by dropping the word "Communication", to reflect the fact that the products offered to the Marine market (which included depth sounders, direction finders, radars, CCTV equipment, SRE products) were not adequately described by the original title.


At some point later it became Marconi Marine, Marconi House, New Street, Chelmsford


In 2002 Finmeccanica acquired Marconi’s communications business including Marconi Marine and moved the business into SELEX Communication and later into SELEX ES. In 2016 the marine business was bought from SELEX ES by Società Italiana Radio Marittima or SIRM, itself founded by Guglielmo Marconi in 1927, and so although no longer actually bearing the Marconi name the initial purpose and service is continuing into a second century with a renewed Marconi connection. 




The First Year     Wireless Operators and Radio Officers    Training    Premises    Equipment   Vessels  Charivaria  Mariner


This wiki is one of a series recording the history of the Marconi Company from its formation starting from Family


Statement of intent

This wiki uses information drawn from company and personal sources and records including "WIRELESS AT SEA - THE FIRST FIFTY YEARS" (note it has been discovered that in this sorce pages 188, 189 and 209 are missing but these are in the pdf download here) written by H. E. HANCOCK as a history of the progress and development of Marine Wireless Communications to commemorate the Jubilee of The Marconi International Marine Communication Company Limited, and published by Marconi International Marine Communication Company, Limited in 1950. Due acknowledgement is made of the current copyright holders.

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