Arthur ‘Artie’ Moore was not aboard Titanic when disaster struck in the early hours of April 15th 1912. Nor was he instrumental in building the pride of the White Star Line. in fact, Artie was more than 3,000 miles away in the sleepy South Wales village of Pontllanfraith on that fateful night.
Artie, the eldest son of the local miller, was a very enthusiastic amateur wireless operator who had built his own equipment at the family’s Gelligroes Mill. It was with this early radio setup that he picked up the most famous SOS message of all time, as Titanic sank beneath the icy waves of the North Atlantic.
Quickly rushing to tell the local police who didn’t believe a word of what he was saying, the locals soon heard his incredible news. How could the Titanic possibly be lost at sea? She was, as everyone knew, unsinkable….This is his story.
This film is a Green Valley Film Production
Running time: 60 mins
Arthur Moore was born in Pontllanfraith, near Blackwood, where his father owned Gelligroes Mill. At a young age he was involved in an accident at the mill which resulted in the loss of the lower part of one of his legs and for the rest of his life wore a wooden leg. By the age of ten, he had developed an interest in amateur engineering and adapted a bike to cater for his wooden leg. After Moore and his brother took over operation of the mill from their father, they used a generator coupled to the mill wheel to charge batteries to provide electrical power for local farmers, who were not yet connected to the mains supply.
Home-made wireless station
In a garden shed and later in the loft of the mill, Moore built a rudimentary radio station consisting of a coherer-based receiver and a spark-gap transmitter, powered by batteries charged from the mill wheel. He strung copper wire across the River Sirhowy and uphill to a barn to create a large aerial system that enabled him to receive distant signals. In 1911, he intercepted the Italian government’s declaration of war on Libya and was featured on the front page of the London newspaper, ‘The Daily Sketch’.
Early on 15 April 1912, over a distance of more than 3,000 miles Moore heard the distress signal in Morse Code from Titanic, one of the first uses of “SOS”. He cycled to the police station in Caerphilly, where his report was discounted. Two days later, press reports confirmed the accuracy of his report, including that the ship’s wireless operator had used “SOS” in addition to the older “CQD” code for a ship in distress.
In summer 1912, the publicity surrounding Moore’s hearing the Titanic‘s distress signal led to the then Monmouthshire Education Committee offering him a scholarship to the British School of Telegraphy in London. After three months of study, he was advised by the principal there to enter for a Government examination in Wireless Telegraphy and Morse Code, in which he was successful.
Guglielmo Marconi, the wireless pioneer, had predicted a range of above 2,000 miles for wireless reception, which Moore had greatly exceeded. After a local resident wrote to him about Moore, Marconi visited him and offered him a position as a draughtsman at the Marconi Company. Appointed in 1914 to the Ship Equipment Department, he worked for Marconi’s companies for the rest of his career.
During the First World War, Moore became a technician in “special Admiralty fittings”, working on the clandestinely armed Q-ships and designing and supervising the installation of wireless equipment on the Dreadnought-class battleships HMS Invincible and HMS Inflexible to enable them to communicate with Britain on their mission to the Falkland Islands. After the war, he was transferred to Liverpool, where he headed the newly formed Ship Equipment Department. In 1923, he was transferred to the Marconi International Marine Communication Company and appointed manager at Avonmouth, where he remained until his retirement in 1947. In 1922, he patented an early form of sonar and during the Second World War, his sonar work was instrumental in helping Allied ships avoid German U-Boats in the North Atlantic.
Later life and death
Soon after his retirement, Moore developed leukaemia; he moved to Jamaica to recuperate, but six months later returned to England, where he died in a convalescent home in Bristol on 20 January 1949.
Information taken from Wikipedia