PLANS are under way to form a foundation at Oxford University in the name of wireless enthusiast Douglas Byrne, who died last week, aged 89.
Friends of Mr Byrne, who lived at Highfield House Nursing Home, Ryde, hope to form the Douglas Byrne Marconi Foundation, which will support Oxford University students researching wireless communications and technology.
Mr Byrne was an only child, born and raised near Peterborough, Lincolnshire, and his interest in radio began at an early age. He started accumulating all forms of wireless technology and paperwork and throughout his life amassed an immense collection.
During the Second World War Mr Byrne, who never married, taught members of the RAF to use wireless technology and after six years moved on to work for Sun Life of Canada Insurance.
He had an evening job giving radio instruction at a technical college.
In the early 1970s, Mr Byrne started a wireless museum in Lincolnshire but, when he retired, he moved his entire collection to the Island.
He initially lived at Alverstone Manor Hotel, Shanklin, but later moved to a house in Ryde and then to a 22-room mansion on Westhill Road, Ryde, with its distinctive H-shaped aerial on top.
He established a wireless museum at Arreton Manor and at Puckpool Park, Ryde, but when new owners bought Arreton Manor he moved out and transferred as much of his massive collection as possible into the two cottages at Puckpool Park, Ryde.
Initially called the National Wireless Museum, it later became a registered charity called the Wireless Preservation Society with a board of trustees. The museum closed around two years ago.
Around eight years ago, Mr Byrne moved to a bunaglow in Binstead and his mansion was sold at auction. The money raised paid for an archivist to work at Oxford University for three years, collating the Marconi collection from 2004. The remaining funds are earmarked for the Douglas Byrne Marconi Foundation.
In addition to his radio hobby Mr Byrne, whose radio ham call-sign was G3KPO, also attended St James’s Church, Ryde, and enjoyed travelling abroad to meet other radio enthusiasts.
His funeral will be held at St James’s Church on Wednesday at 2pm, followed by a service at the IW Crematorium, Whippingham.