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Marconi Museum

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George Stephen Kemp

The office door was always open to one member of Marconi's staff, namely George Stephen Kemp.

Born in Kent in 1857 he served as an electrician and instructor with the Royal Navy, before working for the Post Office where his boss was William Preece. When Preece realized Marconi's great potential he decided to help him and George Kemp was one of the first men he put to work alongside the young Bolognese. From that moment - July 1896 - Kemp devoted himself entirely to wireless telegraphy, thus becoming Marconi's inseparable assistant. In 1897 he moved from the Post Office to the fledgling Marconi Company, where he worked as «first assistant» for the next thirty six years. Kemp was at Marconi's side for his most memorable achievements, including the first wireless transmission across the Atlantic Ocean, from where in St. John's, Newfoundland they heard the letter 's' in Morse code sent from the Poldhu station in Cornwall.

From the beginning Marconi devised a working system that consisted of a team of technicians who reported directly to him. There were twenty in 1900 and by 1906 that number had increased to thirty two. All were young men, more or less the same age as Marconi, who had studied electrical engineering in London. Some also had brief experiences in the telegraphic sector and in power plants. Many of them went on to hold important positions within the Company, whereas Kemp who was much older, kept his role as Marconi's irreplaceable right-hand man until he died in Southampton in 1933. Kemp was very efficient at solving all types of practical problems, kept a detailed work diary and was also even in charge of Marconi's personal diet.

Marconi didn't always refer to his assistants by name, but he rarely forgot to congratulate their work. Richard Vyvyan, Charles Franklin, Henry Round and Andrew Gray all made important and unique contributions to the development of the Marconian radiotelegraphy and Marconi himself acknowledged this. Thanks to his genial detachment and strong determination, Marconi was able to attract and form lasting links with many people. Vyvyan and Entwistle were both cited in the Nobel speech given by Marconi at the Swedish Royal Academy.

However, very few people gained his lifelong affection, but Kemp was probably one of them since Marconi not only referred to him as his «first assistant» and «valuable helper» but also as his «friend».





























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