Submarine Telegraph Company

Scope and Content

This collection consists of secretariat and financial records created by the Submarine Telegraph Company until its voluntary liquidation in 1889.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Submarine Telegraph Company was founded in 1851 by John Watkins Brett, Thomas Russell Crampton, Lord de Mauley and Sir James Carmichael. The company was granted an exclusive concession by the French government to lay a cable from England to France under the English channel. The first cable was completed on 28 August 1850, but failed days later. A second cable to France was completed on 25 September 1851. The exclusive concession to run cables to France was opposed by the British government during the 1850s, due to it being perceived as representing an unfair monopoly. By 1870 transmissions via the French cables amounted to some 1,400 per day.

From 1 February 1870, the General Post Office shared revenues with the company and took over operation of some of its cables including those in the North Sea.

The company remained profitable throughout its operation. On 12 January 1889 its international concessions ceased and the Submarine Telegraph Company went into voluntary liquidation on 31 March 1889. The General Post Office took over its property on 1 April 1889, including the its 760 ton paddle steamer The Lady Carmichael.


This collection is arranged by business function.

Access Information

Available for research at BT Group Archives, see .

Acquisition Information

These records were transferred by the Post Office Archives between 1 June 1991 and 30 April 1992.

Other Finding Aids

Full catalogues for BT Group Archives can be searched at .

Archivist's Note

These records were previously catalogued as part of the Post Office collection under the POST 81 and POST 83 classes. They have been recatalogued to better reflect the provenance of these records and to aid access to them.