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We want Wales and the world to know his name; MEET THE REAL INVENTOR OF THE RADIO... AND HE'S FROM BALA Move over Marconi... David Edward Hughes is man we should be thanking for microphone and the teleprinter.

Byline: ROB DAVIES

HE was the scientific genius who became the first in the world to send and receive radio messages. No, not Italy's Guglielmo Marconi or Germany's Heinrich Hertz - but David Edward Hughes from Bala.

Hughes was the inventor of what was to become known as the wireless - at a time when Marconi was still in short trousers. We also have him to thank for the invention of the microphone and teleprinter.

He is undoubtedly one of Wales' greatest sons and was born into a very talented Welsh family, albeit his time in Wales was short. He moved with his family first to London and thence to the United States at the age of seven, where he became admired initially for his musical ability. But it was Hughes' brilliance which helped give the world modern-day radio and the wireless technology now applied in countless other ways, such as the mobile phone and the internet.

It is odd then, that so few people seem to have heard of David Edward Hughes. But more than a century after his death in 1900 aged 68, there is now fresh hope that his pioneering work will be better understood and acknowledged.

A book by Ivor Hughes and David E. Evans has recently been published which tells his amazing story - not least how he turned a basic transmitter and receiver into a communication system in 1879. Guglielmo Marconi, considered by many to be the inventor of radio, was only five years old at the time.

There's also a museum now established in Denbigh seeking to chart both Wales' role in the development of radio and how radio has in turn helped boost Welsh language and culture.

The museum is to hold its inaugural David Edward Hughes Memorial Lecture in Bala this Friday, to be given by history professor at Aberystwyth University, Dr Iwan Morus.

Professor Morus has written widely about science in Victorian times and the history of electricity. He will pay tribute to Hughes and look at the contribution of Wales and the Welsh in the development of electrical communication.

Does he feel that David Edward Hughes has missed out on some of the recognition he deserves? "I think that most specialist historians of radio and early communications history more generally would be quite familiar with Hughes and his contributions," says Prof Morus. "He's one of many figures - including other Welshmen like WillRobert Grove and William Henry Pr- who have rather fallen out of historfar as the public is concerned. We otend to prefer histories that feature fairly narrow succession of heroic 'gmen' and we tend to forget about ocontributors who were regarded as significant in their own time."

liam reece - ry as often e a great other just as ng atives 80 but rely " Hughes demonstrated his fledglispark-gap transmitter to representaof the Royal Society in February 188they incorrectly dismissed it as merinduction transmission - not radio transmission. This setback was compounded by the fact that HeinrHertz published his papers while Hwas continuing his research.

rich ughes Despite this, Hughes gained great acclaim within scientific circles for this work, even if he remained obscure to the public. But was he in part to blame for his lack of wider recognition by not publishing his own findings sooner? "He was more an inventor than a man of science - though that could be a fairly artificial distinction for the Victorians. He was simply more interested in practicalities and patenting his inventions than in making a name for himself as a man of science - like Marconi," points out Prof Morus.

What is not in doubt, the professor adds, is that David Edward Hughes was a man of great importance in his field.

"Wales tends not to make as much as we should of our scientific heroes. It's important that we remember the contributions Wales has made to science and technology and that we understand just how important a role science played in Welsh culture during the Victorian period," he says. "It's great that we now have a biography of Hughes. I hope it brings his story to a wider audience and helps to put the history of science back into the history of Wales. We need more books like this which try to do that."

Among the audience for Professor Iwan Morus's lecture in Bala on Friday night will be grandmother Mrs Joan Lloyd, 74, of Abergele and other members of her family. Her paternal great-grandfather was a first cousin of David Edward Hughes, who never had children of his own. Mrs Lloyd feels strongly that he deserves to be better known.

"I am ever so pleased to be going to the lecture," she says. "David Edward Hughes was before Marconi's time of course - when you think about it we wouldn't be able to be without the microphone and radio today. I think Wales should be very proud of him. We hope when we go to the meeting on Friday that we can persuade either Bala or Corwen to put a statue up on his behalf which would be marvellous because we feel that people don't know about him because there really isn't anything other than the plaque on Broadcasting House.

"With the electronic age coming on in leaps and bounds we should remember that he was one of the original people who decided there was something there and spent a long time inventing that particular process, as a pioneer of radio.

"I'm sure we wouldn't be where we are today without him - he was many years before Marconi took it over and he got all the glory," says Mrs Lloyd. "More than anything, I want Wales and the world to know the name David Edward Hughes."

The David Edward Hughes Memorial Lecture, by Prof Iwan Morus, is in Canolfan Bro Tegid, Bala, this Friday at 7pm.

CAPTION(S):

Main, Bala radio pioneer David Edward Hughes; inset top, the Hughes telegraph; inset left, Wireless in Wales Museum, Denbigh; inset right, Prof Dr Iwan Morus, who will give the first David Edward Hughes Memorial Lecture in Bala this Friday
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 5, 2012
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