Cooke and Wheatstone telegraph cable, 1837

1837 in United Kingdom

Three-foot length of telegraph cable for use in the Cooke and Wheatstone telegraph system, cased, unknown maker, England, 1837

For Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897, the Engineer-in-Chief at the Post Office, William H Preece, arranged to link the countries of the British Empire around the globe to send a message of greeting from Queen Victoria to all her subjects. A length of Cooke and Wheatstone's original 1837 telegraph cable, originally laid between Euston and Camden town, was included in the circuit.

On 22 June 1897, preparations had been made at the Central Telegraph Office for the dispatch of Her Majesty's message, and foreign countries were prepared for its arrival. Before leaving the Palace, the Queen was handed a telegraphic instrument by H C Fisher C.M.G, the Comptroller of the Central Telegraph Office. He had brought a second telegraph instrument for himself, and before the Queen arrived, he had sent a message to the Central Telegraph Office saying 'Look out'. The Queen's signal was received at the Telegraph Office at 11.07 and was then dispatched across the globe to 43 different places including Bombay, Cape Town and Hong Kong.

This object is in the commemorative showcase Preece made to display the royal switch and connections. There are two engraved plates in the showcase. The left-hand one reads 'This fossil telegraph of 1837 was inserted in the five submarine cable companies' circuits and thus the adjoining message to all her subjects passed through it, shewing that the telegraph system is coterminous with Her Majesty’s beneficent reign. W H Preece CE FRS Engineer in Chief General Post Office. C T Fleetwood, Superintending Engineer Metropolitan District'. The right hand plate reads 'Jubilee Day 22nd June 1897 Buckingham Palace 8.0 AM. The Queen's Message. From my heart I thank my beloved people. May God bless them. Victoria R & I'


Object Number:
wood (unidentified), glass, metal (unknown), wax and textile
overall: 160 mm x 980 mm x 300 mm, 15 kg
Donated by Preece, Cardew and Rider