Chelmsford Amateur Radio Society

GB100MZX Nellie Melba Centenary

Dame Nellie Melba Centenary
13th - 20th June 2020
Chelmsford On The Air
"GB100MZX Special Event"
CARS Members

In June 1920 with sponsorship from the Daily Mail newspaper, the Marconi Company broadcast the world's first live recital by a professional musician - the legendary Australian diva, Dame Nellie Melba.

In a makeshift studio at the New Street Chelmsford factory, she opened her recital at 19:10 on 15 June 1920 by singing 'Home Sweet Home' and other popular favourites - the first official UK Broadcast.

The powerful Marconi company transmitter used in 1920 had been allocated the callsign MZX (Marconi Zulu X-ray). This event subsequently led to 2MT Writtle and later 2LO in 1922 the birth of the BBC.

Lead Engineer W.T.Ditcham with the Marconi MZX Transmitter

Marking the centenary of this landmark event CARS Members operated GB100MZX around 12-20 June 2020 for the anniversary, and continued until the end of the month.

Our thanks to both the operating team and all involved in a very successful anniversary event
(a fuller report will appear in due course)

GB100MZX Nellie Melba Centenary On Air

GB100MZX started early on Friday 12-June with Modes including CW, SSB, FT8 and FM.

Bands ranged from 160m, all the way up to 70cm

QSO count was nearly 2000, with CW & FT8 proving particular popular. Oliver has now managed to collate most logs using eQSL ADIF format and also enabled their lookup on QRZ.

MZX nets: Advantage was also taken of a 5-week month, so CARS nets featuring GB100MZX included GB3DA-2m (a special) on Monday Jun15th, GB3ER-70cm, and then 80m and 160m.

Our volunteer operating team and their favourite choices are indicated below:-

Operating Team - Times, Bands, Modes - Click to Zoom

GB100MZX SSB on 5MHz / 60m - from Keith G3WGE - click to zoom

GB100MZX CW on 14MHz / 20m - from John M0JOC

One member of our MZX special event team is Ian Duxbury M0LZI, who happens to be a distant relative of W.T.Ditcham! Courtesy of the family we have uploaded a short clip of Ditcham onto our YouTube channel (recorded later in 1934).

A short silent film clip of W.T.Ditcham, the MZX Transmitter engineer - recorded later in 1934

GB100MZX Extras

CARS Secretary and GB100MZX NoV holder Colin G0TRM was also busy. His handiwork included a nice replica of the microphone - and having a hundred year old crown from 1920, the year in question.

GB100MZX also used the local repeaters courtesy of ERG - with a Monday June-15 Centenary night net on GB3DA, followed by an excellent turnout on 70cm GB3ER from across Essex and Kent for the CARS net on Tue Jun-16.

On the precise centenary Monday evening (June-15) Colin recorded the commemorative net on GB3DA which included a rendition of the 'Home Sweet Home' by Dame Nellie Melba similar to that used on MZX in 1920.

GB100MZX on GB3DA - 19:10 15-Jun-2020

A one hundred year old 1920 half crown from the time - by Colin G0TRM

ThamesARG member Oscar 2E1HWE also captured the moment on GB3DA in this Youtube clip:-

Microphone Replica: Based on a working STC Lip microphone, the replica first saw the light of day in 2010 when it was constructed for the CARS display at Oaklands Museum for the 90th anniversary of Nellie Melbas' broadcast from the Marconi factory in Chelmsford. (See GB90MZX Chelmsford 2010)

It was entered in that years Constructors Competition and was awarded third prize. (See July 2010 newsletter).

It was resurrected in 2020 in celebration of 100 years since the original broadcast from New Street. Unfortunately due to Covid-19, plans to use it for GB100MZX did not materialise.

Coasters: The Marconi Veterans Association produced a limited edition set of drinks coasters for the anniversary

Useful Links:
  • QRZ: GB100MZX on QRZ
  • QSL: GB100MZX on eQSL
  • Previous 90th Anniversary: GB90MZX Report

    NB: eQSL is preferred to confirm QSL. QRZ Logbook also available

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