The story of how a Bolton sea captain saved over 700 lives after receiving a distress call from the Titanic is to be re-told as part of a celebration of the history of radio, at Crompton Place shopping centre.
Arthur Rostron, born in Astley Bridge, was a captain with the Cunard Line and guiding the Carpathia across the Atlantic Ocean in 1912 when he received an emergency signal from the ill-fated HMS Titanic.
Using a recently-invented Marconi wireless aboard the Titanic, Captain Smith had issued what is thought to be radio’s first recorded distress call after hitting an iceberg at sea.
If Captain Rostron, a former Bolton Grammar School pupil, hadn’t received it, the number of lives lost in the infamous tragedy would have been even greater than the 1,517 total.
Rostron was sleeping in his cabin at the time of the disaster but ran on deck and immediately ordered the ship to race towards Titanic’s reported position, travelling through dangerous ice floes, and taking about 3½ hours to reach the stricken vessel.
His quick-thinking and heroic actions resulted in the rescue of 710 passengers and after the sinking Rostron was showered with praise and awards, including the US Congressional Medal of Honour.
Now over a century later, the Crompton Place Shopping Centre is celebrating Rostron and the ground-breaking radio moment that has spawned a legacy of wireless wonders for Bolton.
With a themed Radio GaGa event running this October half term, the mall will champion it’s affinity with the airwaves – not least the fact that the town is credited with giving Britain some of its best radio stars.
With Sara Cox, Mark Radcliffe and Vernon Kay all coming from Bolton, the area has a lot to celebrate when it comes to radio so it is no wonder Crompton Place is going ga ga to do so.
Crompton Place Shopping Centre manager Paula Wood said: “You can follow the history of radio back over a century and you’ll find famous Boltonians all along the way which is why we’re marking this great cultural creativity this half term.
“We’re proud to be championing the local links with such an important invention and hopefully we’re doing it in such a way that visitors young and old will enjoy.
“The two-day celebration is designed to be fun but also informative and I think a lot of people will be surprised at the things they will learn about Bolton and the world of radio.”
Over October 28 and 29 an interactive display will be on show from 11am to 3pm at Crompton Place with four separate sections celebrating a different theme each.
The first will focus on Marconi and the invention of radio and will feature a DIY transmitter that visitors are encouraged to come along and try.
A second installation will focus on the history and development of the medium, especially during the 1940s, with music from the era and a DJ inspired by the radio stars of the age.
Another area of the exhibition will be entitled Whose Sound Is It Anyway? This will be an information display about production and sound effects with the opportunity to join in a radio play – contributing the sound effects to go alongside the presenter telling a story.
The final element of the installation will be a real sound recording booth where Bolton FM will be broadcasting live from the event.
Their DJs will use the occasion to record a jingle on site at Crompton Place as well as offering facts and information on the history of the local radio station.
Throughout the event there will be a giant radio transmitter on display and children will be able to take part in a walkie-talkie detective hunt around the centre.
Also at the event will be community radio station Bolton FM, whose presenters will be broadcasting live from Crompton Place throughout the two days.
The station, which broadcasts on 96.5 FM and has been going for six years, will also be showcasing their portable studio, which is being used to provide media skills training in local schools and community organisations.
The studio consists of a mobile rack of equipment with an acoustic top, in which sits a radio broadcast mixer Microphones, headphones, an on-air sign and a 22" widescreen LCD running radio playout software.
For more information about Crompton Place click here
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