Blue Plaque unveiled in Chelmsford for first woman to sing on British radio

The first woman to sing live on British radio is being commemorated by a blue plaque.

Winifred Collins broadcast from the Marconi Company’s New Street Works in March 1920. The plaque has been unveiled by Chelmsford City Council at 11 Widford Road, Chelmsford, which was Winifred’s home between 1967 and 1988.

Born in 1897, Winifred moved to Chelmsford in 1915 where she worked at the former Hoffman factory offices. In January 1920, she was part of a local singing group called The Funions and was asked by Marconi engineers to prepare for the opening of the Chelmsford wireless station on June 15, 1920, by Dame Nellie Melba.

Winifred performed on three occasions to 214 receivers where she earned 10 shillings (50p).

Following the broadcast, a silver medal was presented to her by the managing director of Marconi in recognition of her achievement as Britain’s first paid radio artiste. Winifred became a VIP of the Marconi company after the performance.

More recently, Chelmsford City Theatre documented the achievement as part of the 100th anniversary since Winifred made her first broadcast.

Cabinet member for Sustainable Development, Councillor Mike Mackrory, said “This latest addition to Chelmsford’s Blue Plaque Scheme is another example of our commitment to celebrating our city’s rich cultural heritage.

“It is vital that we continue to ensure residents and visitors alike have the opportunity to discover the myriad of personalities that have shaped our history.”

Mick Ferris

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