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Telecommunications Heritage Conference

Brought to you by The Wireless Heritage Group

As part of the Greater Manchester Archaeology Festival 2019, a free one day Telecommunications Heritage Conference

Registration for this event is now closed.

About the event


As part of the Greater Manchester Archaeology Festival 2019, which is held in conjunction with the Greater Manchester Archaeology Federation, CW Heritage SIG is delighted to support a free one day Telecommunications Heritage Conference

Held in association with the University of Salford’s Centre for Applied Archaeology, Connected Earth and supported by the Institute of Telecommunications Professionals, this conference will explore the history of telecommunications and its impact on society and the development of industrial cities such as Manchester.

Telecommunications has had a transformational impact on society and our environment whether that has been through the development of national and international communication networks, the evolution of the telephone into the mobile and onwards to the smartphone, or the Internet and its associated world wide web. Each technological advance has improved our ability to communicate over ever greater distances and speed thus leading to the creation of new services and businesses.

This one-day conference aims to celebrate telecommunication’s rich heritage by exploring technological development, societal impact, and its influence on urban development with a particular, although not exclusive, focus on Manchester.

The programme comprises of the following speakers and topics:

  • Stewart Ash will be talking about Sir John Pender, a Glaswegian who made his fortune as a cotton merchant in Manchester and who then masterminded a global network of under-sea electrical telegraph cables that wired the world and earned him the title, ‘Cable King’.
  • Geoff Varrall, RTT Online and CW Heritage SIG Champion, will revisit the early years of the satellite industry and the technical, commercial and regulatory evolution of satellites as broadcast and communication systems placed in the contemporary context of a ‘new space era’.
  • Dan Glover will discussing the development of the 1952 microwave relay network which was used to extend the BBC television service to Scotland. 
  • Steve Scanlon will examine an important piece of Cold War technology by explaining how the GPO/BT engineered solutions to enable the Home Office to discharge its responsibility firstly to warn, then recover from a possible nuclear attack on this country, with at least a skeleton network for essential users.
  • Andrew Hurley from The National Collection of Telephone Kiosks will be describing one of their most significant finds of recent times, namely the discovery of an original Norwich design kiosk, making it the oldest known surviving example of a British phonebox. 
  • David Hay from BT Archives will be discussing the BT partnership with Bletchley Park Museum in the restoration of the Teleprinter Hall at the museum which will house a new immersive cinematic experience, D-Day: Interception, Intelligence, Invasion exploring Bletchley Park’s secret D-Day role and the work of GPO engineers on the site. 
  • Alison Taubman is Principal Curator, Technology & Communications at National Museums Scotland. In its communications gallery, staff were keen to include a fundamental of human communication – speech. Alison will outline the thoughts behind a display of speech mediated by machines, from the first speaking clock to the now omnipresent synthetic voices of devices such as satnavs and smoke alarms. 

Professor Nigel Linge, University of Salford, who is organising the event, will be providing a small exhibition and poster display that explores Manchester’s telephone story, from the first telephone installed within the country under licence from the Post Office in 1878, through the expansion of the national network, to the imminent launch of the latest generation of mobile phone, 5G. 

All events in the Greater Manchester Archaeology Festival are available free-of-charge however, they do require participants at this conference to register in advance.

Registration entitles you to attend all presentations, receive copies of any information handouts and partake of the refreshments which includes a light lunch in the Salford Museum and Art Gallery cafe.

Whether you are a technical specialist, an enthusiast, a former or current employee of the telecommunications industry, a museum or heritage professional, an academic or someone who has a general interest in history and industrial archaeology then this is a wonderful opportunity to explore the rich telecommunications history.

Click here for further information on the conference.

SIG Champions

Stirling Essex - Director, Espansivo

Stirling Essex has over 25 years of product development, product management, strategic marketing and business development experience in many areas of wireless technology, and has been intimately involved in the development of test systems for GSM, CDMA (IS-95), 3G (W-CDMA) and LTE. He founded Espansivo, a technology consultancy specialising in helping organisations with their technology, product and business decisions, in 2005. Stirling was previously a co-champion of the CW Future Wide Area Wireless Special Interest Group and has been a member of the CW Board since 2004.

Stephen Haseldine - Chairman, Deaf Alerter, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Radio Communication Museum of Great Britain

Steve Haseldine FIMC FRSA is the Chairman of three companies, Alerter Group plc, Electronic Communications Ltd and Evets Communications Ltd, businesses that design and manufacture in-building, radio-based, emergency communication systems; software defined radio solutions and operate PMR, FM Broadcast and Cellular transmission sites. He is also the Chairman of the Radio Communication Museum of Great Britain.  His connection with radio started over 50 years ago as a schoolboy, when he became a licensed radio amateur, an interest which has influenced much of his professional career. Sponsored as a Computer Science student focused on software development with Rolls Royce, he subsequently worked for GEC Telecommunications before becoming a Management Consultant with Price Waterhouse. Starting his own software house and radio communication businesses in 1979 he has found it rewarding that his two passions of software and radio have evolved into an almost common technology. He has seen his own companies being judged the Midlands Best Small Business of 2013 and the leading Company for Innovation in both 2012 and 2013. As well as remaining an active radio amateur, Steve has now amassed one of the largest personal collections of communication radio equipment in the UK, with over 3000 receivers, transmitters and ancillary equipment, the vast majority of which are fully operational. The collection spans from the early spark transmitters to the latest Software Defined Radios.

Andy Sutton - Principal Network Architect, British Telecommunications

Andy Sutton is a Principal Network Architect within BT Architecture and Strategy team. He is responsible for 5G end to end network architecture, RAN architecture evolution and mobile backhaul strategy and architecture. Andy holds an MSc in mobile communications from the University of Salford and has over 30 years of experience within the telecommunications industry. Andy’s research interests include; distributed and centralised RAN and core architectures and protocols, network dimensioning, QoS and mobile backhaul (optical transmission, microwave and millimetre wave radio systems, network architecture and protocols along with synchronisation and time distribution in telecommunications networks). He also works on low latency and ultra-reliable networks architecture and design. During his career Andy has worked for Mercury Communications Ltd, Orange, H3G, EE and BT. Andy holds the post of Visiting Professor at the University of Liverpool and University of Salford. Andy is a chartered engineer and holds fellowships from the IET, BCS and ITP. Andy contributes to International telecommunications standardisation activities and several industry forums. Andy also has an interest in the history and heritage of telecommunications and is a CW Heritage SIG Champion.

Geoff Varrall - Director, RTT Online

Geoff Varrall joined RTT in 1985 as an executive director and shareholder to develop RTT's international business as a provider of technology and business services to the wireless industry. He co-developed RTT's original series of design and facilitation workshops including 'RF Technology', 'Data Over Radio', 'Introduction to Mobile Radio', and 'Private Mobile Radio Systems and developed 'The Oxford programme', a five day strategic technology and market programme presented annually between 1991 and 2005. Geoff has been running in depth technology and market workshops for the industry for over 33 years, spanning five generations of mobile cellular technology. A co-author of the Mobile Radio Servicing Handbook (Heinemann Butterworth, UK), Data Over Radio, (Quantum Publishing, Mendocino, USA and 3G Handset and Network Design (John Wiley, New York). Geoff's fourth book, Making Telecoms Work – from technical innovation to commercial success (John Wiley) was published in early 2012 followed by 5G Spectrum and Standards published by Artech House in July 2016. His latest book 5G and Satellite Spectrum Standards and Scale is now available from Artech House and can be ordered from a past Director of Cambridge Wireless, Geoff is actively involved in a number of wireless heritage initiatives that aim to capture and record past technology and engineering experience and is a patron of the Science Museum In his spare time he plays Jazz trumpet semi-professionally and is a marathon and ultra-runner.

Nigel Wall - Director, Climate Associates

Nigel has been involved with connected vehicle research since 1992 when he led BT’s mobile data research team – initially using modems on first generation analogue TACS mobile phones! Since 2001 he has worked an independent complex-systems engineer, with a primary specialism in connected vehicles. For the last seven years he has acted as the Monitoring Officer for twelve of the Connected and Autonomous Vehicle research projects supported by Innovate UK and the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles. These projects included Gateway, Venturer, UK Autodrive, MOVE UK, INSIGHT, Flourish and UK Cite. During this period he has not offered CAV-related consultancy services to other companies to avoid any potential conflict of interest. As these Innovate UK projects have now completed, he is now returning to offer traditional consultancy services to organisations that need to pragmatic advice on developing market share in this exciting market.

Event Location

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Location info

Peel Building, University of Salford, M5 4WT

Email organiser

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