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British Industrial History

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Telegraph Companies taken over by the Post Office (1870)

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1870 The privately-owned inland telegraph system was transferred to the British State on 28 January under the Telegraph Act, 1868. About 30 telegraph companies were taken over by the General Post Office as a result. The central telegraph office of the new service would be located at the offices of Electric and International Telegraph Co[1]. Some of these telegraph undertakings were presumably part of railway companies; others that have been identified were:

Capital stock worth £10,948,173 was created to compensate the owners of these companies. The Post Office took over 1,058 telegraph offices and 1,874 offices at railway stations, 60,000 miles of wire, generating revenue of c.£550,000 per annum. In 1869, 6,830,812 telegrams had been transmitted.

Two telegraph cables to Holland and one to Germany were also acquired by the Post Office and leased to the Submarine Telegraph Co.

The Post Office Factories Division was established with the acquisition of two small factories in Camden Town and Bolton previously belonging to the Electric and International Telegraph Co and the Magnetic Telegraph Co respectively. At the time of the transfer to the Post Office these factories employed 175 people on the manufacture and repair of telegraph equipment.

The Post Office acquired its first cableship from the International Telegraph Co, a 512 ton paddle-steamer called the Monarch, built in 1830. Monarch soon broke down and was sold to the Admiralty.

A continental telegraph station was set up in Little Bell Alley, Moorgate.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times, 23 October 1869
  • BT Archives 1870 [1]