In early part of the twentieth century when Guglielmo Marconi, the grandfather of amateur radio was experimenting with wireless communications in Italy pioneering experiments with wireless were also taking place here in Wales. Working from his shed at The Mill, Gelligroes, Blackwood, a young Arthur Moore was conducting his own experiments with wireless telegraphy. Young Artie was inspired to experiment with wireless after winning a book as first prize in a national model engineering competition for his model horizontal steam engine. The book was entitled “Modern Views on Electricity and Magnetism” and was written by Oliver Lodge, a leading British light on the new wave of wireless communication.
The eldest son of the local miller, Artie Moore was employed at the local colliery. Here he struck up a friendship with the colliery’s electrical engineer Richard Jenkins and together they began to experiment with the ideas presented in Lodge’s book. They were successful in constructing a spark-gap transmitter and a coherer receiver (the earliest form of detector) and after teaching themselves Morse code they were able to communicate between their homes, Artie at The Mill and Richard at Ty-Llewed Farm some miles away. Using long wire antennas Artie received the first message asking him to convey to the mill that the farm needed grain. (Artie Moore’s original spark-gap transmitter can still be seen at the Club on request).
As Artie’s construction skills improved he was able to build more sensitive equipment and soon began receiving world news regularly, which he reported to the local population at least two days before it appeared in the national press. At 24 years of age on 14th of April 1912 Artie received the faint signal of a ship in distress. The signal read: “CQD SOS 11.50pm from MGY we have struck an iceberg sinking fast come to our assistance position lat 41.46 north Lon 50.14 west MGY”. This was the distress call of the unsinkable Titanic! The call continued: “Sinking we are putting passengers off in small boats weather clear.” Artie reported this to the locals who did not believe his incredible news that the unsinkable Titanic had perished, two days later they received confirmation of this terrible event through the national press and Artie achieved considerable notoriety as a result. One newspaper reported: “A Young boy from the valleys of South Wales has witnessed through the modern invention of wireless the death of a famous ship thousands of miles away.”
Due to his pioneering work as an amateur, Artie came to the notice of the Monmouthshire Education Committee who offered him a scholarship to the British School of Telegraphy in London. Soon after this in the last few months of 1912 Artie was invited to join the Marconi Wireless Telegraphy Company as a draughtsman. At the outbreak of war in 1914 Artie left Marconi to take up a position as a wireless technician with the Admiralty where he was responsible for designing wireless equipment for Britain’s warships. Artie stayed with the Admiralty after war ended in 1918, and as assistant to Captain H. J. Round was instrumental in developing the thermionic valve, without which advancements in radio and electronics would not have been possible.
Artie Moore died in 1948 after seeing two world wars and contributing considerably to the advancement of radio (remnants of his amateur station can be seen at The Mill Gelligreos, Pontllanfraith, Blackwood,).
His pioneering efforts in wireless communications remain relatively little known. However, he will be remembered here at the Club for his contribution to the hobby and the inspiration he gave to the young budding amateurs of the district who wished to follow in Artie’s footsteps.