The chairman of industrial giant GEC is coming to Chelmsford tomorrow to make a gift of the £5 million Marconi Archive and Museum to the people of Essex.

Sir Richard Hurn and communications chief Sir Geoffrey Pattie, who led "save the archive negotiations" for GEC in 1997, will make the announcement at the Civic Centre at 12.30pm.

It is almost exactly two years since public opinion halted an original plan by GEC to auction the collection to finance an electronics educational trust, with public support gained through a joint campaign by the Essex Chronicle and BBC Essex.

GEC's communications director, Alan Tull, said: "We are absolutely delighted to be making this gesture to the people of Chelmsford."

The documentary part of the archive will be among the first valuable records to be housed at the new Essex Record Office at Chelmer Waterside, near Navigation Road.

The archivists are due to move in during October, with public access beginning as early as possible in 2000.

The collection includes personal letters of Marconi founder Gug-lielmo Marconi and 3,000 telegrams surrounding the Titanic tragedy in 1912, all sent by Marconiphone wireless telegraphy.

There are also wireless messages tracking Imperial German troop movements two days before the outbreak of the Great War in August 1914 and picked up by the receiver at Chelmsford.

The most famous item, the "Melba mike" made from a cigar box and used for the first ever public entertainment broadcast, made by singer Dame Nellie Melba from New Street in 1920, is currently part of the 75 years of the BBC exhibition at Broadcasting House, but will also be coming home to Chelmsford.

Talks are continuing in an effort to convert the world's first purpose-built radio factory, in New Street -- built in 1912 -- into the Marconi artefacts museum.

But it is possible now that the former Writtle Road works of Crompton Parkinson Ltd, more recently Marconi Radar, will be used as an alternative.

The museum gift is being made under the name of the GEC Chelmsford Marconi Archive Trust, but will be jointly administered by Essex County Council and Chelmsford Borough on behalf of their citizens.

Converted for the new archive on 19 November 2001. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.