In 1861 the residents of Mullion on the Lizard peninsula would never have guessed that the parish would take its place as one of the epicentres of modernity in the coming century. It was from this parish that Marconi transmitted the first transatlantic radio messages in 1901/02, following this up by 30 years of research at Poldhu Cove that firmly grounded Mullion’s place in the history of radio communications.
In 1861 the parish was better known for its farms than its frequencies. That didn’t mean that its residents were uninterested in the wider world however. Take Annie Shepherd for example. Her father was a farmer at Tremanhee in the parish and comfortably off, able to employ a governess and a couple of domestic servants.
Annie married Thomas Vincent in 1873. Thomas was from Camborne and by 1881 had taken Annie back there to help run his school at Trevu on Beacon Hill. Yet, in the meantime, the pair had spent time at Bahia in Brazil, where two children were born in 1874 and 1876. The school in the 1880s was home to several boarders from Brazil and Mexico, reinforcing the Central and South American connection. But Thomas died in 1894 and by 1911 Annie was back at Tremanhee in Mullion, living with her unmarried brother and sister.
John James was another Mullion child who spent time in Cornwall’s industrial heartland, but at a contrasting level from Annie Shepherd. John’s father was a farm labourer and by 11 John had been sent to work as a farm servant at a nearby farm. He spent his teens and twenties in the parish, earning his keep from labouring while getting married in the early 1870s. He and his wife Elizabeth took the decision to leave Mullion in the 1880s, heading to Redruth where he found work as a general labourer while living in Fords Row near the centre of the town.