The incredible tale of the Welshman who picked up the Titanic’s SOS calls
This month marks the anniversary of the Titanic sinking and many will be surprised to learn that there is a Welshman at the heart of the story.
Artie Moore was in his garden shed, when he suddenly became a part of Titanic history.
At Gelligroes Mill (near Pontllanfraith), Artie had built a wireless radio station by himself and managed to generate electricity for it by using a large water wheel and some self made batteries.
This was 1912 by the way, radio had only just been invented. Artie was intrigued by it though and was clearly a seriously clever guy.
The year before he intercepted a coded message from inside the Italian government where they declared war on Libya, nobody knew him before then but they soon did when he dropped that bombshell and the world learned that it was true.
On the night of the Titanic sinking – April 15th, 1912, he was in his shed experimenting and somehow managed to pick up the SOS distress calls from on board the ship at the very moment the crew raised the alarm.
“We have struck an iceberg, sinking.”….. “Women and children in boats, cannot last much longer”…… “We are sinking fast. Passengers are being put into boats. Titanic.”
He rushed to the local police station and they thought he was crazy. Back in 1912, it was considered fact that the Titanic was unsinkable and the thought of plucking messages from the air was mind-bendingly impossible.
He told others and nobody believed him. Two days later the news hit the British press and the nation learned what had happened for the first time.
Once the shock of the news had subsided, people started to learn that Artie had raised the alarm days in advance from his shed in the Welsh Valleys.
It was such a wild achievement, the inventor of radio Guglielmo Marconi came to know about him.
Marconi had just won the Nobel prize for Physics, the same almost impossible to attain prize that Albert Einstein won a few years later.
You’re talking uber genius, the inventor of wireless communication and he’s so mind blown that he ends up here in the valleys, in Artie’s garden shed to find out how the hell he managed to learn about the Titanic before anyone else did.
It didn’t even make sense how he picked up the messages at all, Marconi’s Nobel prize winning technology was installed on the Titanic with a detection range of 2,000 miles absolute maximum, but Artie’s home made set up was picking it up from 3,000 miles away.
Marconi was shown how it was achieved and he offered Artie a job on the spot. Artie went on to lead the installation of wireless equipment on battleships during World War 1, invented the pre cursor to Sonar and was in the thick of developing technologies which have enabled radio to be what it is today.
Somehow, not many of us know about Artie. Hopefully stories like this one will help to bring him back into the consciousness of local people. A phenomenal man with a phenomenal story.
Phil Morris runs the Ystrad Mynach group on Facebook
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