Victorian Telegraphy Before Nationalization

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1 Victorian Telegraphy Before Nationalization

2

3 Victorian Telegraphy Before Nationalization Simone Fari University of Granada, Spain

4 S i m o n e Fa r i Softcover reprint of the hardcover 1st edition All rights reserved. No reproduction, copy or transmission of this publication may be made without written permission. No portion of this publication may be reproduced, copied or transmitted save with written permission or in accordance with the provisions of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, or under the terms of any licence permitting limited copying issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency, Saffron House, 6 10 Kirby Street, London EC1N 8TS. Any person who does any unauthorized act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages. The author has asserted his right to be identified as the author of this work in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act First published 2015 by PALGRAVE MACMILLAN Palgrave Macmillan in the UK is an imprint of Macmillan Publishers Limited, registered in England, company number , of Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG21 6XS. Palgrave Macmillan in the US is a division of St Martin s Press LLC, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY Palgrave Macmillan is the global academic imprint of the above companies and has companies and representatives throughout the world. Palgrave and Macmillan are registered trademarks in the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe and other countries. ISBN ISBN (ebook) DOI / This book is printed on paper suitable for recycling and made from fully managed and sustained forest sources. Logging, pulping and manufacturing processes are expected to conform to the environmental regulations of the country of origin. A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. A catalog record for this book is available from the Library of Congress.

5 Contents Acknowledgements vii Introduction 1 1 The Origins of the Telegraph Service The heroic years Experiments along the railroads The London & Birmingham Railroad Company The Great Western Railway Company The London & Blackwall Railway Company The Electric Telegraph Company The dynamics of the Electric Ties with the past The venture 34 2 Constitutive Choices Ne tentes aut perfice The optic vs the electric telegraph The pneumatic vs the electric telegraph Gas tubes and electric cables The cumbersome presence of the Penny Post The symbiosis between railway and telegraph Conclusion 61 3 From Monopoly to Free Competition The Electric against all The British: litigation and marketing The Magnetic: low profile but high technology The Submarine and the European: competition at sea The first mover supreme The consequences of the constitutive choices The Duopoly The turning point The Electric s new majority 112 v

6 vi Contents 4.3 The British/Magnetic merger The consolidation of the duopoly The Triumph of the Oligopoly Challenging the duopoly The consolidation of the oligopoly Submarine telegraphy Turning points and constitutive choices Nationalization Plans and inquiries Against nationalization The 1868 Telegraph Act The 1869 Telegraph Act and the passage of the telegraphs to the state The motives leading to nationalization A new turning point 204 Conclusion 205 Bibliography 208 Index of Names 233

7 Acknowledgements The research at the basis of this monograph began in June 2009, when I was studying in London on an Earth Connected Fellowship offered by the London Science Museum together with British Telecom. First of all, I would like to thank Peter Morris and the staff of the London Science Museum for having helped and encouraged me over the years. A special thanks also to David Hay and the staff of the BT library/ archives, who furnished me with precious information on telegraph company documentation. I also received helpful indications on the correspondence of the pioneers of British telegraphs during my visits to the IET archives. As the years have passed, partial results of the research have been presented in many international conferences, thus involving a wider circle of scholars. But I would like to thank individually Graeme Gooday, Richard John, Colin Hempstead and Gabriele Balbi, who in various moments have given me much competent advice. I would also like to recall the precious exchanges with the participants at the session on telecommunications at the 2012 Economic History Society Annual Conference, at the European Fresh (Frontier Research in Economic and Social History) meeting at Pisa in the same year, the XIth Milan European Economy Workshop, the Peripheral Mobilities Workshop, Granada 2013, and the panel Core and peripheries in the transport and communication infrastructural process of the 41st ICOHTEC Symposium at Brasov, Finally, I would like to thank Patricia Kennan for her painstaking care with the translation. vii

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