Edward Kirkby, Walter Hannam & Reginald WilkinsonPrint Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by Peter Williams

The plaque recognises the contribution of Edward Kirkby, Walter Hannam and Reginald Wilkinson in the transmission of the first wireless signal in 1910. 

On March 11 1910, a meeting in Hotel Australia, Sydney, decided to form "The Wireless Institute of Australia". The chairman of that meeting was Lieutenant (later Major) George Augustine Taylor. Two weeks later he transmitted the first military wireless signal in Australia. The Morse Code signal was received at a second military camp several kilometres distant. This was pioneering work of the day and showed that such signals could be transmitted under less than favourable conditions and from rugged terrain, ultimately proving to be of great assistance during World War One.

There is evidence that Captain George Augustin Taylor did not transmit  the message but that the message was transmitted by three civilians Messrs Kirkby, Hannam and Wilkinson who brought all their own equipment with them. Two sites were established to conduct the tests from a station A and a station B. Station A was in a tent adjacent to the gatekeepers cottage at Heathcote Station. Station B was 2 miles to the south in a cave on a landmark Spion Kop in what is now Heathcote National Park. The experiments were successful and Taylor gave all credit to the civilian experts.  The story of the civilian's involvement in the experiment is told in an article by Lieutenant George A Taylor  Army Intelligence Corps By Wireless - How We Got The Signals Through cc 1910. 

Three civilians by the names of Edward Kirkby, Walter Hannam and Reginald Wilkinson have been honoured on a new plaque in Sydney’s south, recognising their involvement as the signallers who played an integral part in the first successful military wireless signal transmitted in NSW.

Sutherland Shire Council supported a grant application by the Shire Military History Club to secure NSW Government funding for the creation of the plaque and co-hosted the unveiling event on Thursday morning. Around 80 guests attended Veno Street Reserve in Heathcote as the commemorative plaque was unveiled by Sutherland Shire Mayor, Councillor Carmelo Pesce, Member for Heathcote, Lee Evans, representatives from the Shire Military History Club and a descendant of Edward Kirkby.

In 1910, the Australian Army experimented successfully with sending the wireless signal from an overhanging rock ledge near Waterfall to a tent near Heathcote railway station. Prior to this, the Army used flags (semaphore) or Morse code by light flashes (heliographs) to send signals. George Taylor, then a Lieutenant in the Army Intelligence Corp, was interested in how technology could assist during war and was determined to prove the value of wireless signals in notifying troops of impending threats and enemy movements.

With no wireless skills himself, Taylor decided to call in the expertise of Kirkby, Hannam and Wilkinson to conduct the test during an annual artillery camp at Heathcote.

“Today is an important moment in our local history, where we can formally acknowledge the important role these three skilled civilians played in sending the first military wireless signal in NSW,” said Mayor Pesce. “The hard work of these men will now be recognised, alongside Lieutenant Taylor, for many years to come and Council is proud to have supported this initiative of the Shire Military History Club and Kirkby family.”

The NSW Government provided $1,800 to the Shire Military History Club as part of the 2018-19 Anzac Community Grants Program to assist with the production of the plaque.
Sutherland Shire Media Release, 29 August 2019. 


Address:Princes Highway & Veno Street, Veno Street Reserve, Heathcote, 2233
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -34.086394
Long: 151.008872
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:People
Actual Event Start Date:28-March-1910
Actual Event End Date:28-March-1910


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Thursday 29th August, 2019
Front Inscription



The Three Civilians Who Operated The
Wireless Sets Used Near Here For The
First Successful Military Signal Sent In New South Wales    

             28 March 2019 

It Was Their Skilled Work And Equipment That 
Lieutenant George Taylor Used For His Demonstration

         A Project Of The 
  Shire Military History Club

Plaque :
This commemorative plaque was officially unveiled by
Mayor, Sutherland Shire
Thursday 29 August, 2019

Cr Carmelo Pesce  Mayor D Ward
Cr Greg McLean                D Ward 
Cr Deirdree Steinwall         D Ward  
Lee Evans MP                   Member for Heathcote


Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au