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Flat HolmimageWales has an important place in the history of communication.

Did you know that one of the world’s greatest inventors carried out much of his work around the coast of Wales, both in the north and south? Though this gentleman was of Italian birth he spent much of his youth working with British born scientists and inventors here, including in Wales. His name became famous as he was one of the pioneers of radio communication. He is considered to be the inventor of radio telegraphy.

Guglielmo Marconi commenced an experiment in which he attempted to transmit Morse Code signals across the Bristol Channel to the island of Flat Holm in 1897. He was seen by many onlookers as somewhat eccentric however his perseverance paid off when the first message was transmitted, and an answer was received from his team on the Island where he installed a similar set of equipment.

The radio equipment became very popular and Marconi Radio Telegraphy was eventually used by luxury liners around the world. Eventually in 1914 he managed to transmit Morse Code all the way to north America. His transmitting station at Waunfawr, approximately 6 kilometres east of Caernarfon, near the Snowdonia National Park was a very sturdy building. During World War 1 (1914-1918) it was heavily guarded by British soldiers as it was seen a very sensitive military site of significant importance for communication.



The transmitting station at Waunfawr.

3 Answers

+2 votes

On 13 May 1897, a 22-year-old Italian inventor named Guglielmo Marconi, assisted by a Cardiff Post Office engineer named George Kemp, transmitted the first wireless signals over open sea from Flat Holm to Lavernock Point near Penarth.

Having failed to interest the Italian government in his project, Marconi brought his telegraphysystem to Britain. He erected a 34m high transmitting mast on Flat Holm as well as a 30m receiving mast at Lavernock Point. The first trials failed, but on 13 May the mast was raised to 50m and the signals were received clearly. The message sent by Morse Code was “Are you ready?”; the original paper Morse slip, signed by both Marconi and Kemp, is now in the National Museum of Wales.


I have sailed around Flatholm a few times.

Haven’t landed on it yet...hopefully trips will resume this Summer.


+2 votes

Dah-di-dah-dit   Dah-dah-di-dah

+2 votes

I am amazed by how much he believed in his project...Italian government not interested, he came to Britain, and was erecting 30 meter masts! Even then, the first trials failed...strongheart Guglielmo...