King's College London
Online Exhibitions
Professor Sir Charles Wheatstone

Railway telegraphy

From Wheatstone's original sketchesFrom Wheatstone's original sketchesIn June 1837, Sir Charles Wheatstone, along with his business partner, William Fothergill Cooke, patented one of the first electric telegraphs.

Their design proved popular and was quickly adopted by the nascent railway industry: less than a month later, in July 1837, the world’s first railway telegraph was laid at Camden Town on the London to Birmingham line, with the co-operation of George Stephenson, the leading railway magnate.

Developed as a solution for traffic control between Euston Square and Camden Town, the trial was deemed a success and Stephenson requested the installation of a permanent circuit.

This comprised five thickly-varnished copper wires encased in tar-soaked wooden batons that were laid underground and connected to Wheatstone’s five needle telegraph.

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