Chelmsford’s New Street Marconi factory was built in 1912, 14 years after the establishment of Marconi’s first factory in the town, at Hall Street. Marconi commissioned the architects W Dunn and R Watson to design the new factory on New Street, work began on 26th February 1912. The factory is credited with being the world’s first purpose-built radio factory, giving Chelmsford the worthy title of: ‘Home of the radio’.
In 1919 two 450ft aerial masts were added to the site, providing a new town landmark.
1936-39 saw the addition of the art-deco factory extension and Marconi House, which now stylize the inner elevation of the factory. Marconi House is an impressive 5 storeys high and housed the majority of the site’s offices
In 1949 building 720 was added, which at the time boasted the largest unsupported roof span in the country, and housed the canteen.
In 1999 the defence arm of Marconi was bought by British Aerospace to form BA systems, who still occupy the new building to the west of the site. Evidence I found inside the building suggests that operations at the New St factory were consequently reduced in 1999/2000; however I have found little interweb information to support this. In 2008 the last occupants of the site: Selex Communications moved out, ending nearly 100 years of communications industry on the site.
Sadly only 4 of the buildings on site: The 1912 New St building, New St Cottages, the powerhouse and water tower are listed. Consequently the future looks rather grim for the massive art-deco factory, with development work to begin in 2010. No prizes for guessing what the fate of the site will be!
For more information on the history please visit this very comprehensive website: http://homepages.tesco.net/~martin.batesuk/marconi/sections_added_1912-1980.htm
The 1936-39 Office and new factory building
Even in the 1940s there were those who spoilt it for the rest of us:
Copies of the orriginal details of the clocktower, drawn in 1912 by W Dunn and R Watson of London
Inside the clocktower, sadly replaced by an electric mechanism:
The grand staircase of the 1912 office building:
Copies of the original elevations of the 1912 office block, which still stands on New Street