Lizard Wireless Station and Marconi

In 1900 the Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi undertook ground breaking wireless experiments on The Lizard. You can visit Marconi’s two local stations, and see how, with determination and vision, he developed technology on remote Cornish clifftops that paved the way for today’s instant world-wide communication.

The Lizard Wireless Station at Bass Point

Marconi, staying at the Housel Bay Hotel, chose a nearby headland to set up the Lizard Wireless Telegraph Station. In January 1901, in simple wooden huts, Marconi received a transmission from the Isle of Wight over 180 miles distant, thus proving that radio would work over the horizon; something that many scientists thought impossible. Having two radio stations just 6 miles apart gave Marconi the perfect opportunity to work on tuning and interference. 

Marconi was quick to develop the commercial potential of radio. Lizard Wireless Station was one of a dozen coastal UK stations which handled ship to shore messages, for a fee. It was the first coastal radio station to receive an SOS call when in 1910 the Minnehaha, aground off the Isles of Scilly, radioed for help.  

The radio station has been restored to how it would have looked in Marconi’s day. One of the two huts, with a dramatic view across Housel Bay, is now a National Trust holiday cottage.

The Poldhu Marconi Centre

Buoyed by his achievements, Marconi set his sights on an even more ambitious goal, spanning the Atlantic with radio waves. He chose a site above the sandy cove at Poldhu near Mullion for his European station. Four huge masts were constructed, 65m tall, the foundations of which can still be seen today.  On 12th December 1901 Marconi sent the signal ‘s’ from Poldhu to Newfoundland, a distance of 2100 miles. This achievement rightly received much accolade, with the station being visited by the future King and Queen in 1903. Marconi later used Poldhu for his shortwave experiments from which he developed the Beam Wireless Service for the British General Post Office.  

The Marconi Centre at Poldhu, Lizard, Cornwall
The Marconi Centre at Poldhu, Lizard, Cornwall
The Marconi Centre at Poldhu, Lizard, Cornwall

The station at Poldhu operated until 1933 and the site was later cleared. In 2001 the Marconi Centre was opened by the National Trust and Marconi PLC to mark the centenary of his transatlantic signal. To find out more about visiting the Poldhu Marconi Centre visit Poldhu Amateur Radio Club website here.