Marconi Eras

The Belmar Station – August 1914

The Belmar Station

The illustration at the top of this page shows the operating building located at the water’s edge at Belmar, N.J. The masts of this gigantic Marconi station which appear in the background, are 300 feet high and aerials carried on them stretch westward for almost a mile. It is here that the wireless messages which are soon to wing their way across the Atlantic from Wales will be received.  The Belmar plant is one of the largest in the world and perhaps the most important link in the Marconi world-wide wireless chain.  It has equipment second to none, as the photographs on the pages following will testify. The operating building necessarily appears small in the illustration but is over 82 feet long. It contains a generously proportioned office for the manager, a similar one for the engineer in charge; also a large storeroom and a coatroom. The room containing the tuning apparatus runs the full depth of the building and is connected by a message chute with the receiving room adjoining. Nearby is the charging room for small accumulators and the main operating room with five large tables, which, when fully manned, will require thirty operators. All messages received and transmitted from this station will be handled automatically, most of them being received at the Broad Street and Madison Square offices of the Marconi Company. Similar arrangements have been made for filing Wales station messages in London, thus placing the two great cities in the world in direct communications by trans-Atlantic wireless.


For the comfort and convenience of the large staff of operators and engineers necessary to maintain the twenty-four-hour service at Belmar, the Marconi Company has erected the hotel shown in the above illustration.  Built of dark red ornamental brick, with a lighter red tile roof, this fireproof structure is as handsome as any of the palatial summer resort hotels in the vicinity. It is a city block long and contains 45 bedrooms.

The photograph left gives a partial view of the hotel lounge, where the Belmar operators will congregate in the evening for relaxation and entertainment.  Photo Right, the foyer hall leading in from the porch.

The dining-room in the hotel is a cheery apartment and is arranged so that each diner will have a pleasant outlook and plenty of room.  From the windows may be seen the wide, sweeping shores of the Shark River and the breakers of the Atlantic.  There are seating accommodations for 50 persons and many more can be taken care of whenever necessary.  The kitchen, a portion of which is shown in the lower photograph, is equipped with every modern aid to the culinary art, in charge of a French chef. To the right of the illustration may be seen the heavy vault doors leading to the cold storage plant, eighteen feet square. The refrigeration plant, operated in conjunction, has a capacity of 600 pounds of ice per day.

A typical bedroom in the hotel and a private sitting room.

Some indication of the luxury afforded the operators fortunate enough to secure an assignment to the Marconi station at Belmar is given in the illustrations on this page. The photograph (Left) shows a portion of the land set aside for the raising of fresh vegetables for the table. Twelve acres of the 600-acre tract is planted with the garden truck for all seasons and experienced farm hands give this feature undivided attention. The photograph (right) shows part of the shower room in the hotel, an additional comfort to the sixteen bathrooms provided for the men. Outdoor sports play a large part in the life of the section and while the shower baths are not meant to be competitive with the sea and still water bathing, they will undoubtedly be greatly enjoyed by those coming off duty on a summer’s day or returning from a hard set of tennis on the courts provided for the staff.

The cottages for the manager and engineer in charge at Belmar are shown respectively in the upper and lower illustrations. These most attractive bungalows architecturally conform to the hotel building, is constructed of dark red tapestry brick, laid with raked joint and black mortar, and the roofs are of lighter red Spanish tile. The best of building materials have been used throughout and structural details comprise the most modern fireproofing methods. The inside partitions are of hollow tile, the plasterwork of cement on terra cotta tile and inside wood flooring is laid on concrete. Attractive terraces and generous verandas are an additional attraction of these buildings, which are 50 feet wide and 40 feet deep.

The progress of wireless telegraphy is well illustrated by these photographs taken in the quarters provided for the management, for they clearly indicate the change to ideal living conditions, as contrasted with the cramped quarters in bleak localities which until recently were the land operators’ portion. The smaller picture on this page shows the dining-room of the manager’s cottage at Belmar. The cottages, of which this is typical, have bee furnished throughout by the Marconi Company; handsome electric fixtures, high-grade rugs in Oriental patterns, pictures, chairs, tables, buffets, and the various items of furniture, were selected by a special committee with a view toward
tasteful harmony with the surroundings. The lower view is of the living room, the feature of which is the tapestry brick fireplace. Easy chairs upholstered in leather, rocking, and straight chairs, settees and dining-room chairs, too, are all upholstered in leather. Bookcases and library tables are further aids to comfort. The bedrooms, of which there are four to a cottage, are finished in mahogany, with two rugs, straight and rocking chairs, enameled beds, chiffonier or dresser, and appropriate pictures. The bathrooms are fitted with the very best of fixtures and the kitchen equipment includes a large range and hot water boiler. The cottages are steam heated from the power plant.

A glimpse of the manager’s office and the power and electric lighting plant.

The natural beauties of the high bluff on which the Belmar station is located have been further enhanced by care in laying out the grounds under the direction of a landscape artist. The walk seen in the picture above is typical of the efforts in this direction. In the illustration right an impression of the heavily-wooded shores of the Shark River is given; here the balancing line towers are located. One may be seen in the foreground of the illustration; others may be traced by the fainter reproduction in the middle distance and background.
The piazza of the hotel is nearly a city block long and has already become a favored resting place for automobile tourists who visit the station.  Situated on a high bluff at the westward end of the Shark River, a broad and navigable stream dotted here and there with sailboats, canoes, and motorboats, the Belmar hotel commands a vista unsurpassed for miles around.  An endless profusion of laurel, birch, oak, maple, and pine cover the hills, and the spoils of wild grapevines and huckleberries, mulberries and blackberries are there for the wireless men and visitors.  Off to the eastward may be seen the broad expanse of the Atlantic and the edge of the pine belt, and the resultant pungent blend of piney aroma and the salty tang of the sea holds great attraction.  A landing dock for motorboats is under construction and the wooden slopes of the Marconi property will soon become the headquarters of the numerous picnickers from the seashore cottages.



Page created December 30, 1998

Infoage has Stanford University Library to thank for saving this eleven-page photo story on Belmar station.  Before locating this we had only a few interior photos of the station.  They have the complete set of Wireless Age magazines bound and on microfilm.  They were kind enough to allow us to copy the entire set of microfilm for our archives and research. 

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