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1859 __ Police telegraph in London
Comment : One of the first adopters of the Universal telegraph had been the City of London Police in 1859, before the Company was organised. It had a web of circuits connecting its six stations with the chief office in Old Jewry. Its utility was described by its senior officer: “Captain Charles Hodgson, the Superintendent of the City of London Police force, speaking of the value of the telegraph for police purposes, states; by its means, information is immediately transmitted from the several divisions of the chief offices of all occurrences of an important character, of which particulars were, formerly, only supplied every twenty-four hours. So, likewise, any matter of which it is desirable to send notice speedily to the different stations, is now telegraphed, instead of being sent round in writing by a messenger – a course that formerly occupied about two hours. The telegraph is also found very convenient in promptly obtaining from a division any particulars required relating to matters under investigation at the chief office. On the occasion of fires or other unforeseen emergencies, the telegraph has been found especially useful, not only in conveying the information from station to station, but in enabling the officers to collect from all the stations the requisite number of men, without denuding the streets in the immediate neighbourhood of the occurrence of the constables in charge of beats. As an illustration of its value in this respect, I may instance the occasion of the great fire in Tooley Street, when London Bridge and the city side of the river were, for a considerable period, occupied by a vast and excited crowd, which required the greatest exertion of police authority to control and, through which, only be the greatest effort could the circulation of traffic be maintained. The large number of City Police so engaged were drawn from the several divisions by a series of telegraphic messages, as the increase of the fire, and the accumulation of spectators, made hourly additions to the strength of the police necessary. A further, and by no means unimportant, aid rendered by the police telegraph, is the general facility it affords to officers in charge of divisions of conferring with the chief office on matters presenting unusual difficulties, and of communicating with the superintendent at his residences, at any hour of the night. For these reasons I consider the telegraph most valuable to the force, in economising time, and giving to its officers more direct control over its resources.”. (Steven Roberts, “Distant Writing - A History of the Telegraph Companies in Britain between 1838 and 1868”, 2010)
Urls : http://distantwriting.co.uk/privatetelegraphy.aspx (last visited )

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