Memories of Kent and Sussex from Malta First-ever television picture transmitted – a Maltese Cross!

1st December 1941: Scottish electrical engineer and inventor John Logie Baird (1888 – 1946) who was born in Helensburgh and studied at Glasgow University. Baird worked as an engineer at Clyde Valley Electric Power Company but had to retire due to ill health. He used his time to conduct experimental research into the transmission of images and gave a successful public display of his television system in London on 27th January 1926. In 1929 his mechanically scanned system was adopted by the BBC and he provided an improved system five years later. Baird also helped pioneer colour television and stereophonic sound. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

TV inventor John Logie Baird makes resounding international history and uses the medallion for his first workshop transmission

By Albert Fenech

Many thanks to the enormous help of site editor LYN FUNNELL. There is an enormous historical connection that links Malta to both Kent and Sussex.

Malta and Gozo are the tenth smallest islands in the world, but their history dating back to 5,000 BC must be the most spectacular in the world. This is a further historical event that links Malta and Gozo to Kent and Sussex – and in no small way!

The Scottish engineer JOHN LOGIE BAIRD was born on 13th August in 1888 in Helensburgh, Dunbartonshire in Scotland. His father was the Church of Scotland’s pastoral minister there and he was the youngest of four children.

He was educated at Larchfield Academy (now part of Lomond School), continued to Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College and then Glasgow University.

In the interim, Baird took a series of engineering apprentice jobs to supplement his studies but also to earn some cash. The deplorable living and working conditions at the time gave him Socialist ideals but also made him an agnostic – although this did not affect his relationship with his pastoral ministry father.

His degree course was interrupted by World War I and he never returned to complete his degree.

However, he was now in poor health and moved south to England and in early 1923 took up residence at 21, Linton Crescent in Hastings, Sussex and rented a workshop in Queen’s Arcade for his engineering experiments.

Logie Baird in his small workshop in Hastings, Sussex

Here he became fascinated with light and the transmission of moving pictures accompanied by sound. In 1924 he created an apparatus using an old hatbox, a pair of scissors, bicycle light lenses, a used tea chest, sealing wax and glue, he experimented with a cardboard model.

However, this was dank and dark and did not work. He then hit on the idea of using an item that reflected light and remembering his doctor’s red medical medal of a Cross of Malta with its shiny enamel surface and contrasting colours, he tried this.

It worked and enabled him to transmit his first-ever television picture of an object! Progress took off from there and he continued to experiment with moving people and animals.

In his quest to promote the invention he went to London and visited the offices of the then popular “Daily Express”.

The ‘paper’s News Editor was in trepid concern because one of the staff informed him “For God’s sake go down to Reception and get rid of a lunatic who is down there. He says he has a machine for seeing by wireless. Watch him – he may be carrying a razor”.

And that was that and television exploded all over the world, first Britain and then internationally.

Baird Televisions Advert

Today, is there a household, airport, train station, bar, club, hospital, hospital ward, clinic or bus terminal without a television? No way.

Is the Malta Cross the only decoration these small islands are known for? Certainly not!

The islands acquired the George Cross in 1942 during World War II but that is another story.

Badge of a Commander of the Grand Priory in the British Realm of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem



  • Albert Fenech

    Albert Fenech was born in Malta in 1946. His family moved to England in 1954 where he spent boyhood and youth before in 1965 returning to Malta. He spent eight years as a journalist with “The Times of Malta” before taking a career in HR Management Administration with a leading international construction company in Libya, later with Malta Insurance Brokers, and finally STMicroelectronics Malta, employing 3,000 employees, Malta’s leading industrial manufacturer. Throughout he actively pursued international freelance journalism/ broadcasting for various media outlets covering social issues, current affairs, sports and travel. He has written in a number of publications both in Malta and overseas, as well as publishing two e-books. For the last eight years he had been writing a “Malta Diary” with pictures for Lyn Funnel’s international travel magazine.

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