Members at our 2007 BBQ

Cardiff
Naturalists' Society


Cymdeithas Naturiaethwr
Gaerdydd

 

 

Sir John Gavey (1842-1923) 18th President


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Starting at the end there is a nice comment about Mr John Gavey, as he was then, leaving the society in the the Transactions Volume XXV. Part II. 1892-93

Leaving Dinner for John Gavey

Leaving Dinner for John Gavey

Explanation for this is given in the Evening Express 1st December 1892

Important Appointment for Mr. Gavey, of Cardiff. We have much pleasure in announcing that, in consequence of a re-arrangement of the headquarter staff of the General Post Office, London, brought about by the death of Mr. Edward Graves, the late engineer-in-chief to the department, the important position of chief technical officer to her Majesty's Post Office has been conferred upon Mr. John Gavey, of Cardiff.

Since the year 1872 Mr. Gavey has held the position of superintending engineer of telegraphs for the South Wales District, and has resided in Cardiff for the past fifteen years, during which time he has been closely identified with the social and scientific life of the town. For several years he has been a prominent member of the Cardiff Naturalists' Society, holding the office of hon. secretary for three years, and the presidency of the society in 1890.

Mr. Gavey has served the town for some time on the free library and museum committee, and has also been a member of the technical education committee since the introduction of the Technical Education Act, a position fer which his professional acquirements rendered him especially fitted. It is worthy of mention that Mr. Gavey has taken great interest in the development of the telephone in his district, and the present effective system of Telephone Trunk lines, connecting the various commercial centres of South Wales and Monmouthshire, has been erected under his supervision, the first - that between Cardiff and Newport - being established, and exchanges in the two towns opened, in the year 1881, since which time the system has largely expanded.

He was born at St. Helier in Jersey and was the only son of Capt John Gavey of the merchant navy and Elizabeth Jeanne Falle. His active professional career commenced in 1861 when he entered the service of the Electric and International Telegraph Co., and his experience of 10 years in the development of the telegraphic business under private enterprise was always highly valued by him. On the acquisition of the telegraphs by the State in 1870 Sir John became a civil servant, receiving the appointment of Superintendent of the South-Eastern division of telegraphs and subsequently of the Great Western sub-division of the Southern division of England with headquarters at Bristol. In 1878 he removed to Cardiff, having been appointed Superintendent Engineer of the South Wales district.

Sir John Gavey courtesy of the Guernsey Society

Sir John Gavey courtesy of the Guernsey Society

During his time with the society he gave 2 presentations

  • VOL. XX., PART II, 1888. Multiplex telegraphy, by J. Gavey.
  • VOL. XXI., PART II., 1889. Recent advances in electricity and its appliances by J. Gavey.

There are a lot of newspaper articles that explain his expertise in this area and his involvement in some critical experiments performed by Signor Marconi attempting and suceeding wireless communication from Lavernock to Flathom as decribed in this article

Evening Express 15th May 1897

Evening Express 15th May 1897

However, and contrary to popular recollection and even the plaque erected on the Lavernock headland this was not the first such sucessful experiment as reported in these newspaper articles from 1892 and 1893. The first being this rather condecending opinion from an unnamed author

Evening Express31st December 1892

Evening Express31st December 1892

And the second being a much more straighforward description of the technologies involved

Flintshire Observer Mining Journal and General Advertiser for the Counties of Flint Denbigh 9th February 1893

Flintshire Observer Mining Journal and General Advertiser for the Counties of Flint Denbigh 9th February 1893

From what I read its clear that the Marconi system was more practical and he was also an excellent marketeer, so it is not surprising that it was his system that was adopted, but next time you take a walk at Lavernock and read the plaque, its worth remembering that a member of this Society was involved in the research that led to that more famous system and it is quite likely that the choice of location for that famous experiment was driven by the fact that it was going to be able to compare the results with those acheived 5 years before

He was made a Companion of the Bath in 1902 , and on his retirement in 1907 a knighthood was conferred upon him.



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