back to article The Wight stuff: Marconi and the island, when working remotely on wireless comms meant something very different

Guglielmo Marconi is famous for sending the first transatlantic wireless signal from Cornwall to Newfoundland, with his two radio stations on the Lizard peninsula covered by a previous Geek's Guide. But he worked up to this achievement on the Isle of Wight, the England-in-miniature that lies just off the south coast of Hampshire …

  1. Ochib

    The First Ever Wireless Hack: Marconi vs Maskelyne

  2. sad_loser

    Inspiring review

    'Its dignity is arguably undermined by the proximity of a tea cup ride, a dinosaur-themed crazy golf course and the Dino Jeep Safari'

    Makes me proud to be British.

    We may have cocked up our Covid preparations and facing a mega-recession, but when the chips are down, we have a language that lends itself to magnificent understatement when this is what is called for.


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Inspiring review

      > Makes me proud to be British.

      I was quite impressed to read that Queen Victoria (or perhaps rather the Prince of Wales) was so technology savvy to have not only heard about the developments in radio but also set up a ship-to-shore link in 1898.

      There's only one possible song to mark the achievement (and no, it's not a Rick roll).

      1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

        Re: Inspiring review

        Not only radio, but Bell demonstrated long-distance telephone calls from Osborne House, and Vicky was so impressed she tried to buy it off him:

    2. druck Silver badge

      Re: Inspiring review

      Well I was circling around to get a picture of my boys (then 3 and 5) enjoying the Dino Jeep Safari, when I saw the monument and was pleasantly surprised to read about the history of the site. The chair lift down to the beach was great too, the boys were terrified and thrilled at the same time.

      1. Mooseman Silver badge

        Re: Inspiring review

        you also get a great view of the side of the Needles as you wobble over the cliff on your creaky chairlift. I took my boys there when they were somewhat smaller and did a trip to the Needles battery, which they quite liked, on the promise that they could go to the funfair later. Needles duly explored we headed to the chair life and then the funfair, only to be told it was closing as it was "nearly 5!"

        Love the IoW - its really like heading back to the 60s

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Inspiring review

      I came here to say the same thing and I have no idea why I bothered to look to see if someone had already said it ... and you had.

      Bugger ...

      ... Erm *whistles tunelessly* ... ... ... ...

      ... ... *sidles off* ...

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

    Don't forget the overpriced cafe, standard gift shop tat, and odd coloured sand ornaments that you'll regret buying as soon as you've left the shop.

    Other than that, it's a great place.

    1. Chris G

      I had a coloured sand filled glass lighthouse my girlfriend's mum gave me.

      I and my girlfriend were involved in a near fatal car crash in the early seventies and she was convalescing at a place they rented in Seaside IOW.

      Since my car was wrecked I bought a German made Diana scooter for twenty quid and used to ride down every weekend. I remember the monument but nothing about St Catherine's Point.

      I do remember the cream teas on the island though, I wish such a thing existed here in Spain.

    2. DJV Silver badge

      Re: odd coloured sand ornaments

      The one we bought when we visited Alum Bay in the 1960s wasn't packed as tightly as it should have been, leaving a small pocket of air at the top, which allowed the sand to start mixing if it was moved at all. After a while the entire top was no longer banded colours but a uniform yellowy-grey.

      At least back then they still allowed you to collect your own coloured sand from the cliffs - that was before they realised that "human" erosion was going to eat the cliffs a damn sight faster than natural erosion!

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: odd coloured sand ornaments

        They put a bit of water in to stop the sand moving about. Must have forgot on that one.

  5. Kevin Johnston

    Other things nearby

    You mention Ventnor but not the radar site? Very close (isn't everything on the IoW) on St Boniface Down and another landmark site

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Other things nearby

      The writer mentions going up to Needles Battery and Tennyson Down but not the High Down rocket test sites, that are concrete chasms and the Back Arrow/Prospero exhibition.

      The radar station building on St.Boniface down has been converted into a private dwelling.

  6. Watty-7

    Funny how we all have different histories…

    I grew up on the South Wales coast near Lavernock Point, where we were proudly and frequently reminded that Marconi made the first transmission across the sea to the island of Flatholm in the Bristol Channel. Yes, it’s only a few KM but still.

    Anyhoo, no one ever mentioned the role of the Isle of Wight in between this first transmission and the first transatlantic one - and this BBC Wales article also resolutely refuses to acknowledge it:

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Re: Funny how we all have different histories…

      I came here to make a similar point. It was a series of steps, and the "radio won't travel across water" one was disproven at Lavernock, while the IoW undoubtedly dealt with "radio needs line of sight".

      There is a small plaque at the church in Lavernock but getting there might be difficult - it's at the end of a long narrow lane, past a caravan park and with space for only three or four cars to stop whenever the car park is blocked off - which it seems to have been every time I've visited in the last few years.

      If you carry on past the church you will find yourself on the coastal footpath, heading East towards Penarth, but if you can spot the overgrown path and gate just at the end of the lane, and brave the brambles, nettles and crumbling rocks you will eventually end up on the rocky beach, renowned for producing some great fossils - not unlike the south coast of Dorset and the Isle of Wight.


      Google Street View


      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Funny how we all have different histories…

        Chelmsford and Writtle also want a piece of this action.

  7. Steve 53

    It's basically a crime to go in that direction and not visit the hovercraft museum at Lee-on-the-Solent, then take the IOW hovercraft over to Ryde...

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Geeks' Guide to the Hovercraft Museum...

      And if you are over in Cowes... The Saunders-Roe factory building still exists, along with the Union Flag from the days of the British Hovercraft Corporation

      Ministre des transport Madame Barabara Chateau * inspecting SRN4 production at Cowes.

      * as referred to in Prime Minister's Speech To The French. Tim Brooke-Taylor(?) as Harold Wilson in "I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again"

    2. BitGin

      The hovercraft trip to Ryde is some much fun it inspired the Beatles to write their famous song just about buying the ticket.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Travel tip

    Park your car in Lymington, take your bike on the ferry and cycle around the western side of the island.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Travel tip

      If you are very fit and can cope with some of those climbs, especially at the Freshwater end of the Military Road.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Travel tip

        Them hills. Tried on two "five ferries" charity rides and had to walk both times.

  9. HarryBl

    For all us ex merchant navy sparkies Niton is the home of Niton Radio/GNI

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    DEad fish

    There were many dead fish when I was there. Radio kills fish.

  11. steviebuk Silver badge


    ....seeing this as I've always loved the Isle of Wight. We'd got there every year in the 80s and early 90s for 2 weeks for the family holiday. Staying at Sandown holiday park. Sadly, lots of what we loved have all gone and closed down but the island is still nice to visit. My sister has now moved there, which we all dreamed of doing as kids. I'm also considering it but IT work there isn't great, the pay isn't great and worst of all their internet. I might knock Virgin but their speeds are generally good but they are to cheap to pay to have their cable run over to the island so no Virgin media there at all.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Funny....

      Wight Fibre are pretty good there.

      If you mean Sandown Holiday Park jst outside Sandown at the Yaverland end, that is still going I think. Although something of a dump.

  12. ButlerInstitute


    Fastest, and probably least comfortable, route to the IoW is the hovercraft from Southsea to Ryde.

    Takes about ten minutes. Then ride the ex-London Underground train from Ryde pierhead to the mainland (ie the island).

    Foot passenger only, so you'll need the bus to get much further.

    1. Thagomizer

      Re: Hovercraft

      Add a 30kt wind and you’ve got one of the world’s best fairground rides. I tend to only start worrying when my backside gets higher than the head of the people on the other side of the hover.

    2. genghis_uk

      Re: Hovercraft

      The Hover drops you off on the beach just along from the pier - it is the foot passenger ferry that drops you at the end of the pier. The car ferry drops you a couple of mile out of town.

      I had a gig in Ryde once and had to run for the last ferry - that is a REALLY long pier!!

    3. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: Hovercraft

      Then ride the ex-London Underground train from Ryde pierhead to the mainland (ie the island).

      That's for the WightLink passenger ferry.,-1.1569124,876

  13. Annihilator

    On the other side

    Visited Cape Cod on holiday pre-Covid and accidentally stumbled across one of the sites on the other side of the Atlantic - was nothing much to see there, but was pretty cool.

    Sadly no Crazeeee Golf site there, dino-themed or otherwise.,_Massachusetts)

  14. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    I thought there might be mention of

    "The Morse code message that rebooted WWII resistance - 80th anniversary Thursday, May 6, 2021 6:30 PM 7:30 PM "

    at the National Meseum of Computing TODAY

  15. Sandstone

    Just Remembering

    Scrimp and save for a cottage on the Isle of Wight. Grandchildren round our knees, Vera, Chuck and Dave.

  16. MJI Silver badge

    Old Railways

    I remember in the 1980s travelling on 1920s underground trains, and there was a unique shunter at Sandown.

    They upgraded to prewar trains in the late 80s

    Now just introducing late 70s early 80s trains.

    1. Thagomizer

      Re: Old Railways

      That shunter (“Nuclear Fred”) is now at the Isle of Wight steam railway.

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Old Railways

        I know, they sent me a lot of piccies to help me work on my kit built one

  17. ukgnome

    How strange - I have been reading up on the Marconi Beam stations - a fascinating technology that I had no idea existed.

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