Private Telegraph Companies

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 1814 TG
  • Dates of Creation
      1846 - 1899
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      15 companies

Scope and Content

This group comprises the records of a number of private telegraph companies.

Access Information


Custodial History

The development of the telegraph system in the United Kingdom closely followed the growth of the railways with telegraph offices often being located at stations. The Government allowed the network to develop under private ownership and did not intervene significantly in its running. This was in sharp contrast to the telegraph system on the Continent which had been under state ownership since its inception.

By 1868 there were five major telegraph companies operating the inland network, all of which were open to criticism regarding errors, delays and high prices. Frank Ives Scudamore campaigned on behalf of the Post Office for them to be nationalised citing how unfavourably they compared with those on the Continent. Despite protestations from the companies a series of Acts of Parliament were passed and the inland telegraph system came under control of the Post Office in 1870.

For more information about each company please refer to its catalogue entry.