Chelmsford Amateur Radio Society

Ron Ferguson G4VF - Silent Key
30-Mar-1894  -  28-Jul-1985, Age 91

Mr R Ferguson, OBE, G4VF Ronald Ferguson, who died on 28 July aged 91, was a grand old man of radio whose distinguished career covered the years 1909-70.

In 1914 he was chief wireless operator of the liner Empress of Ireland when it sank in 14 minutes after a collision in fog in the St Lawrence River, and he sent out distress signals until the ship heeled over and the power failed. More than 1,000 of the 1,477 people on board perished in the icy waters, but his action undoubtedly saved many lives.

During the first world war he recruited and trained wireless operators for artillery spotting with the Royal Flying Corps and, later, the US Flying Corps. After the war he joined the Radio Communication Company and became general manager. The RCC was one of the six companies which established the BBC, and he was closely involved in the early development of broadcasting. In 1927 he returned to marine radio and became joint general manager of the Marconi Marine Company in Chelmsford.

In 1934 he was seconded to Cairo to run Egyptian State Broadcasting, and he remained in charge there until the end of the second world war. For his services he received the OBE and Egypt's Order of the Nile. After the war he returned to Marconi Marine, became general manager in 1947, managing director in 1959, and continued as a director for six years after his retirement in 1967.

In his early years in Chelmsford he was an active member of the local amateur radio club and an enthusiastic field day operator. Ron G4VF retired as CARS President at the 1977 AGM after 25 years in the post (Newsletter 141), to be succeeded by Roy Martyr G3PMX.

Ron was a member of the RSGB for many years, and in December 1980 he attended the Society's AGM to present the 1981 Marconi Medal to Charlie Suckling G3WDG for his achievements in experimental and development work on microwave techniques.

The presentation was made by Mr Ronald Ferguson, OBE, G4VF, who was introduced to the audience by Mr Basil O'Brien. He gave a brief resume of Mr Ferguson's long association with the Marconi Company: from his early days as a radio officer on passenger liners before the first world war; various commercial and management appointments at home and overseas; until his retirement in the 'sixties as managing director of the Marconi Marine Company.

In making the presentation, Mr Ferguson congratulated G3WDG on his achievements, which he had followed with close interest and which had been made in the same pioneering way as those of the first "radio amateur", Marconi. (RadCom Feb 1981)


Additional News/Tributes:

  • CAR Newsletter-235: Obituary
  • Empress of Ireland: GB100MWT - CARS 2014 Anniversary Event
  • Ronald Ferguson: Empress of Ireland

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