to home page«Home
South Gloucestershire
HTML coding on this page meets W3C standardsCSS coding on this page meets W3C standardsThis page has been labelled to ICRA standards

Blue Plaque for Harry Grindell Matthews

The first blue plaque in South Gloucestershire was erected on The Grove, Winterbourne High Street, on Tuesday, 17th March to commemorate the childhood home of Harry Grindell Matthews, the inventor of the world's first mobile phone, automatic pilot, submarine detection device, optical soundtracks, a sky projector, aerial defence systems and the infamous "death ray". Councillor Allan Higgs and Mrs Margaret Stephens, (nee James) a great-niece of Mr Matthews, unveiled the plaque. The Parish Council and Mr Jonathan Foster, who also held a book launch at Winterbourne Library, purchased the plaque jointly. Parish Councillors, local people and children from Elm Park School attended the event. After the ceremony The Grove hosted a buffet lunch.

Blue plaque commemorating the childhood home (The Grove, Winterbourne High Street) of Harry Grindell Matthews

For more details of Harry Grindell-Matthews, visit the definitive website by Jonathan Foster.

Why not buy the excellent biography by Jonathan Foster?
actual cover illustration of the new HGM book by Jonathan Foster
It's on sale online at # ypd books at £11-99.

For more information about Harry, see also # Winterbourne Family History Online

Harry Grindell-Matthews was born at Winterbourne Court and educated at a Dame's School in Alveston. He appears to be one of seven children born to Daniel (yeoman farmer) and Jane Rymer between 1869 and 1882 in Winterbourne.
12 Sep 1869 bap	Jane Rymer Grindell dau of Daniel & Jane Rymer Matthews    Winterbourn Yeoman John Thompson

8 Jan 1871 bap	Frances Mary dau of Daniel & Jane Rymer Matthews           Winterbourn Yeoman Frank Burges

8 Nov 1874 bap	Charlotte Sarah	Daniel & Jane Rymer	Matthews           Winterbourn Farmer Edward Langley

30 Sep 1876 bap William Alfred Daniel son of Daniel & Jane Rymer Matthews      Winterbourn Farmer AH Austen Leigh, Rec 

28 April 1878 bap	Alfred Doward	Daniel & Jane Rymer	Matthews           Winterbourn Farmer AH Austen Leigh, Rec 

13 June 1880 bap	Harry Grindell	Daniel & Jane Rymer	Matthews           Winterbourn Farmer AH Austen Leigh

23 July 1882 bap	Eliza Young bn 20 June 82 Daniel & Jane Rymer Matthews     Winterbourn Farmer AH Austen Leigh

His company failed in 1914
Wednesday, Jan 14, 1914



The usual winding-up orders were made in the
case of the following companies:--
Grindell-Matthews Wireless Telephone Syndicate

Copyright 1914, The Times

He is the inventor of the "talkies" although British film producers didn't see any future in anything other than silent films. Grindell-Matthews did most of his work at Pilning, and the first full-scale experiments took place in the ballroom of the New Passage Hotel. Grindell-Matthews abandoned the idea but after ten years the American Film industry took it up.

He married Ganna Walska, a concert singer.
Monday, August 23, 1937




A marriage has been arranged, and will take
place shortly, between Harry Grindell-
Matthews, of Tor Cloud, Clydach, and
Ganna Walska, of Chateau Galloise, Paris.

Copyright 1937, The Times
Friday, Sep 12, 1941



The death was announced from Swansea Valley yesterday of Mr. Harry Grindell-Matthews, electrical research scientist, who was particularly interested in air defence. Some years after the last War he claimed to have invented a "death-ray," and there was considerable public controversy as to its merits.

Born on March 17, 1880, he was educated at Bristol Merchant Venturers' College, and when 19 he volunteered for service in the South African War, He served throughout the campaign, and was wounded twice. The possibilities of wireless telephony early attracted him, and in 1911 at Cardiff he succeeded in establishing wireless telephonic communication with an aeroplane in flight, and he is also said to have sent the first Press message by radio telephone from Newport to Cardiff. In 1912 he gave a " command " demonstration at Buckingham Palace of wireless communication between two motor-cars. When the last War broke out he devoted himself to the investigation of scientific means for making the seas safe for British shipping. He invented a means of controlling ships by the beam of a searchlight, and, by the same method, of firing guns. His claims were subjected to exhaustive tests by the British Government, who paid him a large sum for his work. He also invented submarine detecting devices.

After the War Mr. Grindell-Matthews turned his interests to films, and in 1921 he forestalled the introduction of the " Talkies " by making a sound film of Sir Ernest Shackleton. Unfortunately for him his patents had expired by the time America became " talkie " conscious. In 1926-27 he was consulting expert on sound film production to Warner Brothers, United States. Later he demonstrated what he called a " sky projector" by means of which, he claimed, it would be possible to throw "pictures" on to the ceiling of the sky. Another of his inventions about that time was a "lumina-phone," a device by means of which an organ could be played by a beam of light. Early in 1938 Mr. Grindell-Matthews married Mrs. Ganna Walska, the former concert singer.

Copyright 1941, The Times