Bedales students started first school radio station in 1908

Posted on 30th October 2018

In a tribute to radio pioneer Peter Eckersley recently published in the Petersfield Post, Bedales is heralded as a school that encourages pupils to investigate the latest scientific developments.

Peter joined the school in 1902, and his interest in radio was encouraged. His enthusiasm, and that of friend Robert Best, culminated in their being allowed to set up a radio workshop – Wavy Lodge – in the grounds.

On leaving Bedales in 1911, Peter went to Manchester University. Then, following war service with the Royal Flying Corps and time working with the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company, he became an announcer and broadcaster as well as engineer with 2MT, the first licensed radio station in Britain. Peter was then appointed as first Chief Engineer of the British Broadcasting Company Limited from 1922 to 1927 and then Chief Engineer of the BBC. Later, he was involved in building broadcasting stations in Europe.

His pioneering career in broadcasting is documented in the radio and television collection at Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre in West Sussex. His brother Thomas, another Bedalian, also made a career from work in the field of radio communication, but as a physicist, becoming the chief scientific officer for Marconi.

In 1943 Peter wrote that the school “gave one the opportunity to dream dreams and the stimulus to want to make the dreams come true”, and the connection of the school with both brothers endures to this day through an annual science lecture given in their name. Since its introduction in 1966, the annual Eckersley Lecture has been given at the school by leading scientists including two Nobel Prize winners, three life peers and three directors of the Royal Institution. 

The full article can be read on the Petersfield Post website here.

Petersfield Post | Eckersley Lecture | Bedales Curriculum