Princess Elettra Marconi, daughter of the radio pioneer, was in Chelmsford yesterday, backing a campaign for a memorial to him.

Princess Elettra, who supported the 1998 campaign to stop the original Marconi museum collection being auctioned off, says a town centre monument to her father would bring great credit to Chelmsford.

The princess was in town to autograph copies of her expanded version of her mother's book on the private life of Marconi, "As may be seen from my mother's recollections in the book my father held Chelmsford in his affections very much," she said.

The campaign for the museum resulted in the former GEC Marconi company making a £6 million gift of the artifacts to the people of Essex, along with the promise of a building to house them.

Yesterday the princess gave her backing to the memorial campaign on BBC Essex before going to the Civic Centre to discuss it with Mayor, Cllr Mike Macrory. as well as signing copies of her book for Marconi veterans.

However it could take three years and a minimum of £10,000 before a Chelmsford town centre memorial is realised.

This was the view of a top level meeting called to discuss the proposal, put forward by retired Marconi Communications director, Peter Turrall.

He told the meeting that a town clock, featuring Marconi and other local industrial pioneering achievements was his preference. West Chelmsford MP Simon Burns suggests a new electronics-related university bursary.

The Essex Chronicle, in co-operation with BBC Essex, is asking for public opinion to see if the people of the county town are behind the project .

A working party has been set up to take the project forward. It is headed by Chelmsford Council chief executive, Martin Easteal, with Mr Turrall and representatives of the Essex Chronicle, Marconi, Chelmsford Society and Chelmsford Museums Service.

Mr Easteal says: ''Chelmsford was the birthplace of broadcasting, and to a large extent the birthplace of radio. Marconi established the world's first radio factory in Hall Street in 1899.

By 1912 the business had outgrown Hall Street and Marconi opened a new purpose-built factory in New Street, built in just over 17 weeks by more than 500 workers.

"Dame Nellie Melba gave Britain's first official radio broadcast from New Street in 1920 and in 1922 the first regular broadcasting station was launched at Writtle.

"Today Marconi continues to be one of Chelmsford's biggest employers while Marconi's discovery - radio - and its development into modern telecommunications forms the basis of so much of modern life from mobile phones to computers.

The issue of how Guglielmo Marconi should be commemorated in Chelmsford has been subject of some debate."

Mr Easteal says whatever is chosen, the project will need backing from industry, the local public sector and individuals.

The Chronicle will establish a Marconi Commemorative Appeal. If the public response is favourable the ideas from your responses to our consultation will be used as a basis for action.

Marconi man: Peter Turrall with the bust of Marconi at the Civic Centre.

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