History of the High Lighthouse

The High Lighthouse is an imposing landmark situated at the entrance to the old town of Harwich. The building is grade 1 listed in ancient monument and was built in 1818 to serve as one of two leading lights for the port.

The 90ft nine sided tower was built near to the site of the earlier light situated over the town gate, by Alexander under the supervision of the famous English engineer John Rennie, later responsible for London Bridge.

Both lighthouses were sold by General Rebow to Trinity House who administered them until 1863 when they became redundant due to the shifting in direction of the harbour channel. The lighthouses were purchased in 1909 by Harwich Borough Council, who partially restored the High lighthouse in 1974 as their contribution to Architectural Heritage year.
The low lighthouse was taken over by the Harwich society and opened as a maritime museum in 1980. The high lighthouse had stood empty for some time until in March 1991 the lease of the building was made available by Tendring District Council, who were anxious to see the building utilized. The lease was taken up by the National Vintage Wireless and Television Museum Trust. The Trust had been seeking a suitable premises to house its unique collection for many years and was delighted to be able to relocate to the Tendring area, due to the significant connection with the history of broadcasting. Marconi's first wireless school was at nearby Frinton on sea and prior to his first successful transmission across the Atlantic, experimental broadcasts took place from a site set up at Dovercourt, next to the Cliff Hotel.

The museum, previously housed at Dedham Essex, opened to the general public in 1995 and traces the history of broadcasting from Marconi and Baird's early experiments, to the present day developments in satellite communications. The museum is set out as an informative and educational exhibition, showing a large collection of vintage wireless and television receivers. On show is some early equipment as used by these early pioneers, demonstrating the first wireless transmissions and mechanical scan television. The building also houses the museum's sound and vision archive.
The exhibition is set out chronologically in a series period 'Room sets' on each floor of the lighthouse, each with the decoration of the period.

Audio/Visual interpretation, utilizing a period film and taped radio broadcasts from the museum's archives, is provided in addition to the more traditional photographic and text Information in a lively and unique atmosphere. in this way the importance of Radio and Television in the social development of the 20th century is demonstrated. Examples include, the early news and light entertainment programmes of the Twenties and Thirties, through to the electronic news gathering and video technology of the present. The last Section of the museum features a comprehensive display of the developments in satellite radio and television and the future of broadcasting.
Particular emphasis is made of the education facilities at the museum; an educational programme has been planned to cater for visiting school parties and students studying in the field of broadcasting and information technology, within the National Curriculum.

The museum is overseen by a charitable trust, governed by a board of trustees and it's policies are dedicated to provide for the advancement of public education by the provision of the museum.

The relocation of the museum to Harwich has proved to be a valuable asset to the tourism of the Tendring peninsular and has enabled the living history of British Broadcasting to be presented to the general public in the form of an information and educational museum for the generations of the future.

The museum is indebted to the generosity of the owners of private collectors who have placed, on loan, to the National Vintage Wireless & Television Museum Trust many valuable exhibits and those who have donated treasured possessions.

                              Many Thanks  Tony O' Neil   Curator