Cecil Goyder

Cecil Goyder was blonde-haired and blue-eyed and apparently “a pleasant, good looking boy with a friendly smile”. He first became interested in radio in 1915 when living in America. On returning to England in 1920, he carried on experiments secretly at Mill Hill School using a spring mattress as an aerial and  ex-Army surplus equipment to make his transmitter.

The 1924 achievement

Goyder with his transmitter

Radio was not his only interest at school. He enjoyed sport and was on the school gym team. Radio activity was encouraged by Mr Walter Brown, the director of science at the school. Goyder was in his final year at Mill Hill and went to the lab early one Sunday morning. Tuning up the school wireless set he contacted five USA and Canadian amateurs within four hours. It had been done before but not by anyone anywhere near his age. In 1923 he established direct communication with the far west of the USA and the Byrd Arctic Expedition. 

And then in October 1924, Goyder made the historic two-way contact with New Zealand. This was a game-changer for global communication. 

Sir Edward Appleton, Nobel Prize winner and pioneer in radiophysics, writing in the BBC publication “Calling All Nations” said: “Then a very remarkable thing happened. In October 1924 the greatest distance of all was spanned when communication was established between Mr F Bell of New Zealand and C W Goyder. Thus began what I have often called the short wave revolution. This is probably the most dramatic moment in the history of the development of the short waves when the greatest distance possible on this earth was bridged for the first time”

The later years

After getting his BSc. at London, Goyder worked for a time in Paris for Standard Telephones and Cables. In 1935 he joined the BBC’s Technical Research Division. In 1936 the Indian Government asked Lord Reith to lend them a man to build the Indian broadcasting system and Goyder undertook the task. In the next 10 years, as engineer-in-chief, he built 15 stations, some of them short wave, and his work proved highly successful. He was appointed CBE in 1946 on his return from India.

Cecil Goyder in his early working life

Cecil Goyder lived in the States for some 30 years where he became the first communications officer of the UN. He accompanied the American generals at the outbreak of war in Korea to advise them on communications. After his retirement in 1971 he was invited by BOAC to supervise the installation of their passenger computer and did so with such success that the system was afterwards sold by BOAC to Japan Airlines.

Cecil Goyder died on February 6 1980 in Princetown, New Jersey following a car accident. He was 74.

In 1988 Sir Robert Telford CBE (President of the Marconi Company) unveiled a commemorative plaque in the Science School of Mill Hill School. Guests included George Goyder CBE (brother), Mrs George Goyder, Mr & Mrs William Goyder and Sir Richard Davies CBE (President of RSGB).

The commemorative plaque at Mill Hill School