London and Provincial District Telegraph Company

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An 1865 stamp of the company.

The London and Provincial Telegraph Co. Ltd. was formed in 1859 as the London District Telegraph Co. Ltd., being renamed in 1868.[1]

The management were connected with the British and Irish Magnetic Telegraph Co and the firm aimed to compete with the dominant Electric Telegraph Company in the London area. Its original Chairman was the banker and Member of Parliament Samuel Gurney (1816–1882).[2] It used a combination of underground and overhead wires and saved money by avoiding the need for an Act of Parliament to authorise its activities. The overhead wires, however, required negotiation with individual households and landowners and were vulnerable to damage in bad weather. The firm employed many female clerks who were supervised by a "Matron" and "Sub Matrons".

In 1860 the company agreed with the Astronomer Royal to relay the Greenwich Observatory time-signal to all of its offices.[1]

Despite an extensive network of lines in London, the company never made a net profit and only once an operating profit. It was acquired by the Postmaster General in the general nationalisation of private telegraph companies under the Telegraph Act 1868.[1]

The company issued a number of telegraph stamps which are of interest to philatelists.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c The London District Telegraph Company. 25 June 2012. Archived here.
  2. ^ See the article by Richard Davenport-Hines, "Gurney, Samuel (1816–1882)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 Accessed 24 July 2012. From 1857 until 1865 Samuel Gurney Jnr. was MP for the borough of Penryn & Falmouth.
  3. ^ Hiscocks, Steve. Telegraph & Telephone Stamps of the World: A priced and annotated catalogue. Woking: S.E.R. Hiscocks, 1982, pp. 134-135. ISBN 0-9508301-0-0