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Volume One - Into the Victorian Age - A technological development of great value to mariners of all nations . . .

Marconi's first experiments in England took place in the General Post Office building itself, under the supervision and with the able assistance of Sir William Preece. These having proved successful, his system was submitted to a more critical test on Salisbury Plain, with a clear distance of two miles between the sending and receiving stations. In these experiments parabolic reflectors and resonance plates were used.

These trials having proved successful, Marconi's apparatus were subjected to a more searching trial, along with Preece's own method. The experiments took place between Lavernock Point and Flatholm (3.3 miles), and also between Lavernock Point and Brean Down (8.7 miles) on the opposite side of the Bristol Channel. Here the reflectors were done away with and vertical wires employed in their stead. The receiving station was fixed at Lavernock Point, twenty yards above the level of the sea. A mast thirty yards high was erected and on the top of it placed a cylindrical cap made of zinc, two yards long and one in diameter. Connected with this cap was a copper wire leading to one electrode of the coherer, the other electrode being attached to a wire that descended into the sea.

The sending apparatus was placed on Flatholm where the vertical wire and the zinc cap resembled those at Lavernock Point. A Ruhmkorff coil giving twenty-one inch sparks, with an eight-cell battery, was used for generating the Hertzian waves. After some experiments had been made with Preece's method, which were entirely successful, Marconi's apparatus was put to the test.

At first the trials were anything but satisfactory — indeed they were little short of utter failures. Next day, however, May 12, the vertical wire having been lengthened by twenty yards, the results, though still unsatisfactory, were better ; while on the 13th, when the receiving apparatus was taken down from the cliff to the beach and a further length of wire added, the success achieved was beyond doubt.

The experiments which followed betwixt Lavernock Point and Brean Down were equally satisfactory, as were also similar trials that took place in the following November between the Needles, Alum Bay, Isle of Wight, and Madeira House, Bournemouth. . .  An extract from 'The Story of Wireless Telegraphy', by Alfred Thomas published in 1904. [788] [499]

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