Page last updated at 10:32 GMT, Friday, 23 January 2009

Station celebrates wireless hero

Jack Binns
Jack Binns sent more than 200 distress messages from the sinking ship

The Marconi Wireless Station in south west Cornwall is leading celebrations later to honour a man who helped save 1,600 lives 100 years ago.

On 23 January 1909, Jack Binns, from Peterborough, was a wireless operator on board the liner The Republic.

He stayed at his post for 36 hours after the ship collided with another boat, repeatedly sending out the first wireless distress signal in morse code.

The passengers and crew of both vessels were eventually rescued.

David Barlow, from the Lizard Wireless Station, said Mr Binns' cabin had been exposed to the elements by the collision: "He sent over 200 messages in that time, freezing cold.

"The captain had to send blankets down and hot soup to keep him going, but he was a real hero."

After the rescue Mr Binns was offered a position as wireless operator on the White Star Line's newest ship, the Titanic.

He turned it down, becoming a newspaper reporter in New York instead.

The Lizard Wireless Station is the world's oldest surviving purpose-built radio station.

It received the first long-distance radio signal sent from the Isle of Wight to Cornwall on 23 January 1901.

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