Page last updated at 09:07 GMT, Thursday, 25 June 2009 10:07 UK
Mill's role in Titanic drama
David Constable at Gelligroes Mill
David Constable sits at the table where Artie Moore sent and received signals

Distress signals from the stricken Titanic were first picked up by an amateur radio operator near Caerphilly.

Arthur "Artie" Moore turned his hand to model engineering and radio at Gelligroes Mill, Pontllanfraith, after losing his leg in machinery.

He and a friend, Richard Jenkins, used to experiment sending radio messages up the Sirhowy valley to Mynyddislwyn.

In 1911 Artie made front page news by picking up a message of Italy's declaration of war on Libya.

But Artie's real claim to fame came six months later in April 1912 when the supposedly unsinkable Titanic hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York.

He picked up the distress signal and ran to the local police station where he had trouble convincing the constabulary that he really had picked up "messages in the air".

Artie Moore's workshop in 1911 - photo copyright Glyn Jones
Artie's radio workshop was photographed by the Daily Sketch in 1911

When news of the disaster reached Britain two days later via rescue ships, the authorities realised Artie had been telling the truth.

Guglielmo Marconi, who owned the radio equipment on board the Titanic, thought it only had a range of 500 miles - but the Titanic's distress signal had reached south Wales 3,000 miles away.

Gelligroes Mill
Gelligroes Mill was renovated in 1992 after falling into disrepair

The Italian was so impressed he visited the young Welshman and gave him a job with the Marconi company, the origins of which lay in his own pioneering experiments with radio waves on the south Wales coast in the 1890s.

Artie's experiments continued, and in 1932 he patented an early version of the sonar system of measuring ocean depths.

The 17th century mill continued to grind corn and animal feed until the 1970s when it fell into disrepair.

It was renovated in 1992 and is now home to a candle factory run by David Constable.

Artie's historic achievements at the premises are celebrated with an exhibition of his radio equipment and related artefacts.

Millvina Dean, the last living survivor of the Titanic, visited the mill in 2002, seven years before her death in May 2009.




SEE ALSO
Audio: Raising the Titanic alarm
24 Jun 09 |  History
Titanic survivor visits Wales
24 Jun 09 |  History
Marconi: work of a radio pioneer
23 Jan 09 |  History

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