Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 143,458 pages of information and 230,061 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Charles James Wollaston

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of Derby (1860)

1820 Born[1] in Hackney, Middx[2]

Pupil on the works of the Great Western Railway under I. K. Brunel

Employed for 9 years on general engineering and other business

Worked for 2.5 years on the North Midland Railway. During this period, in 1847, he met the Brett brothers (John Watkins Brett and Jacob Brett). Together they worked on the best form of insulation for telegraph wires in railway tunnels, settling on gutta-percha at the suggestion of one of the Siemens brothers.

1848 Married Maria Bromley in Derby[3]

1850 The concession for a submarine telegraph connecting England and France was assigned to Wollaston by Jacob Brett. He raised the funds from Charles Fox, Francis Edwards, John Watkins Brett and contributed a similar sum himself.

1850 Laid a gutta-percha covered wire from Dover to Calais, through which signals were sent but it only survived for 24 hours.[4]

1851 Assisted Mr Crampton in laying a telegraph cable consisting of 4 insulated wires in a protective sheath from Dover to Calais which continued working for several years

1851 Engineer for the Submarine Telegraph Co where he worked for the next 9 years.

1860 Proposal to join Inst Civil Engineers as Associate

1860 Emigrated to South Africa where he supervised the installation of a telegraph cable in Natal.

With F. A. Gower formed the Gower Bell Telephone Co to exploit aspects of the telephone business not covered by the new United Telephone Co

1881 Civil Engineer, living in Paddington with his wife, Maria[5]

1885 Divorced by his wife

1891 Living on own means in Kensington with his wife Mary age 45[6]

1915 Died in Somerset


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Parish register
  2. 1881 census
  3. Parish register
  4. The Engineer 1857/01/16
  5. 1881 census
  6. 1891 census
  • A Collection of Biographical Sketches of Leading Men of London, 1895