Victoria - Colonial period: 1854-1900.
Telegraph Offices on the first lines - 1854 to 1856.


The first Telegraph Offices on the first line which are described here are:

    1. Ballarat;
    2. Bendigo (Sandhurst);
    3. Geelong;
    4. Port Melbourne (Sandridge);
    5. Queenscliff;
    6. Williamstown.
Ballarat.

The Telegraph Office opened in December 1856 and the results of the races just before Christmas were telegraphed to Geelong for publication "as soon as they were known at Ballaarat".

As early as January 1857, the Telegraph Office was being used extensively. On 28 January 1857, in the Legislative Assembly, the staffing at the office was questions. Mr. Humffray asked the Commissioner of Trade and Customs whether it was the intention of the Government to appoint an assistant to Mr Baker in the telegraph office at Ballaarat. Mr. Childers replied that provisions had been made on the estimates for a head master, a line master and a messenger and, until it was known what the business would probably be, the Government were not inclined to augment that staff. Mr. Humffray then stated Mr Baker was engaged from an early hour in the morning to a very late hour at night. Mr Childers observed that every master of a telegraph station was in a similar position.

Ballarat Bridge St
Bridge Street, Ballarat in the late 1860s.
Ballarat 2
The P&T Office soon after the telegraph line was connected. .
Ballarat 2

Ballarat had two formats for its Belt & Buckle date stamps:

  1. a 1 hole design.

Used in black: 12 July 1884 to 16 June 1886.

Size: 27 × 37 mm
(e = 0.68).

Rated: RRR.

Ballarat 1884
12 July 1884.

Provenance:
Hugh Freeman, Johnstone.

Ball 1885
17 January 1885.

On a delivery envelope of type VC-EO-8.

Barratar B&B 1886
16 June 1886.

Provenance: Hugh Freeman, Johnstone.

  1. a 2 hole design.

Used in black:
19 June 1889.

Size: 26½ × ??

Rated: RRR.






 

At least four (and possibly five) designs for a TELEGRAPH OFFICE date stamp were used between 1905 and 1982. They can be easily distinguished from the wording at the top and the diameter.
  1. TELEGRAPH OFFICE/
    BALLARAT.

Diameter: 25 mm.
2 line date.
Month then day.
Dots on either side of Ballarat.

Used: 31 March 1905 (?) to 22 April 1921.

Rated: RRR.

Ballarat 1921
11 October 1911.

Used on VI-DO-3Da.

April 22
22 April 1921.

Used on a Telephone account.

  1. TELEGRAPH OFFICE/
    BALLARAT VIC.

Diameter: 29 mm.
1 line date.
Day then month.
2.5 and 2 mm side arcs.

Used: 21 January 1925 to 5 September 1946.

Rated RR.

Ballarat 1925
21 January 1925.
Used on AB-DO-3Ba.
Ball 1946
5 September 1946.
Used on AW-DO-10Aa (44).
  1. TELEGRAPH OFFICE BALLARAT/
    VIC.

1 line date.
Diameter: 30 mm.
Side arcs on sides of VIC are 3 mm and 1 mm.

Used 23 May 1931 to 9 July 1965.

Rated: RR.

Ballarat 1965
9 July 1965.
 
  1. T.O. Ballarat presumed used with a long date line.

Size: 30.5 mm diameter.
2.5 and 2 mm side arcs.

Used: Cancellation never seen but presumed to exist.

Rated: RRR.

   
  1. T.O Ballarat used with a short date line.

Size: 30.5 mm diameter.
Side arcs 2.5 and 2 mm.

Used: 20 January 1982 to 20 October 1982.

Rated: RRR.

1982
20 January 1982
(earliest recorded date) .
 

A postal slogan advertising HAPPY THOUGHTS! CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR GREETINGS BY TELEGRAM was used at Ballarat during the December 1955/January 1956 period.

In August there was a major break-out from the gaol. The Ballarat Star claimed "that the cost to the state of the late Ballarat Gaol breaking has been not less than £2,000. Of this amount it has been estimated that £500 worth of telegraphing was done in connection with the affair".

There appears to have been a Telegraph Office at the Ballarat Race Course at some time - open only on race days. The Argus of 24 March 1876 reported: "The opening meeting of the newly-formed Victoria Amateur Turf Club takes place today on the Ballarat course. There are six events, of which the principal is the Victoria Gold Cup Handicap Steeplechase of three miles ... There will be one train soon after noon from Ballarat West to the course and one back after the last race. The telegraph office will be open on the course during the day". Nothing else is known about this Office. It may be a precursor of the T.O. opened at the Ballarat Miners' Racecourse between about 1933 and 1938.

Staffing news at Ballarat.

The Geelong Advertiser of 5 June 1874 carried the following story:

The following characteristic address has been presented, along with a handsome present, to a Telegraph Operator in Ballarat by his fellow clerks in the Eastern Telegraph Office on the occasion of his marriage with Mr. J. Oldie's niece:

E.T.O. Ballarat, 2 June 1874.
To Mr William Blandford, Senior Operator, Ballarat Office.

We, your fellow officers have much pleasure in availing ourselves of this opportunity to offer our sincere congratulations upon your change of 'circuit' and, in doing so, we ask you to accept this small token as an acknowledgment of our kind feelings. Having 'aitched' yourself on to another 'line' we trust you will not 'insulate' yourself from the old office 'connections' but will allow us to continue to share in that same fellowship hitherto enjoyed. We hope the 'line' you have recently taken will long continue 'uninterrupted', be one on which there will be few 'breaks', no 'contentions for circuit', a 'relay' of happiness requiring no 'adjustment' and may there always exist between the 'magnet' and 'armature' the strongest 'attraction' for which no 'key' may be necessary to destroy".

 

Teleg operat Postcard sent from Dulwich Hill, Sydney on 1 April 1907 to Mr. J. (Bert) Brown who was the Telegraph Operator at Ballarat.
Bendigo (Sandhurst).

The Telegraph Office opened in January 1857. On 7 January, the Argus reported that "some parties working at the back of the new telegraph office, opposite the Argus office, yesterday found a nugget of 27 lbs. weight ... it strikes us that those who have gone to Dunolly and elsewhere had better have remained upon old Bendigo". 

Almost immediately, questions were asked in the Legislative Assembly about the difficulties of communication. On 28 January in the Legislative Assembly "the attention of the Commissioner of Customs was called to the fact of the telegraphic communication with Sandhurst being broken, and explained that it arose from some of the posts having been carried away by bullock teams".

The Sandhurst Post Office was renamed Bendigo about June 1891.

 

Sandhurst
Sandhurst (later Bendigo) in the 1850s just before the time when
the telegraph line was constructed.

 

Sandhurst 1864
Postal date stamp on a Telegram delivery envelope (VC-DO-2B).

There are three formats for Telegraph datestamps for Bendigo:

  • Belt & Buckle design - one hole - first with SANDHURST and used to about 1891 and later with BENDIGO - known only with SE28/1893;
  • TELEGRAPH OFFICE - early date stamps had Sandhurst at the base. Post-1891 date stamps had either BENDIGO at the base or the text simply carried on. The last format has VIC at the base;
  • rubber date stamps with either a triple or a double oval. The triple oval was 49 × 29 mm in size and was used with violet ink. It is known for 20FEB1956 and is rated RRRR. The double oval was 55 × 36 mm in size and is known for 1 MAR 1988. It is also rated RRRR.

 

Bendigo 1
Bendigo Post & Telegraph Office with the Law Courts at the right -
about 1905.

Belt & Buckle date stamps:

  1. Sandhurst: 1 hole in black.

Use: 8 May 1891 to 6 February 1893

and

28 September 1893 to 3 October 1893.

Size: 27½ × 38½ mm (e = 0.70).

Sandhurst 1893
6 February 1893
(latest recorded date) .

Provenance:
Hugh Freeman, Johnstone.

 

 
TELEGRAPH OFFICE SANDHURST.
Date in two lines and has separation dots.

Size: 25 mm diameter.

Earliest use in black: 6 May 1882.
Latest use in black: 27 August 1888.

Rated: RRR.

Number in the Census: 12.

Not recorded in WWW.

TO Sandhurst
6 May 1882.

Used on VC-DO-10.

1883
12 January 1883.

Used on VC-DO-10.

Sand 188827 August 1888.

Earliest use in blue: 6 May 1882.

Rated: RRRR.

Number in the Census: 1.

Not recorded in WWW.

May 23 blue
23 May 1887.

Used on VC-DO-11C.

   
TELEGRAPH OFFICE BENDIGO (steel).

There were four formats for this heading in steel which can be easily distinguished from the wording at the top and the diameter.

   
  1. TELEGRAPH OFFICE
    BENDIGO.

    Date in two lines.

Size: 25 mm diameter.
0.5 mm side arcs.

Used: 25 February 1895 to 29 June 1922.

Rated: NC.

Bendigo 1895
25 February 1895.

Used on VC-DO-15B.

May 11
11 May 1907.

Used on VI-DO-2A.


 
  1. TELEGRAPH OFFICE
    BENDIGO.

    Date in one line.

Size: 28 mm diameter.
1.5 mm and 1 mm side arcs.

Used: 16 December 1912 to 18 May 1959
(latest recorded 10 Sept. 1948).

Rated: S.

 

Bend 1911
16 December 1912.

Used on VI-DO-3Da.


12 August 1924.

Used on AB-DU-3B.

 
  1. TELEGRAPH OFFICE BENDIGO
    VIC.

Large date line.
No dot after VIC.

Size: 29 mm diameter.

Used: 30 March 1938

Rated: RR.

Not included in WWW.

Also used on some now scarce philatelic covers on 12 November 1955 for the 2nd Philatelic Conference of the Victorian Philatelic Council.

Bendigo TO 1938
30 March 1938.
   
  1. TELEGRAPH OFFICE BENDIGO
    VIC.

    Large date line.
    Dot after VIC.

Size: 30 mm diameter.
2 mm and 2.5 mm side arcs.

Used: 27 June 1925 to 10 March 1960.

Rated S.

Bend 4 1936
3 February 1936.
Ben 1959
20 July 1959.
 
TELEGRAPH OFFICE.
There were two formats with this heading in rubber:
 

 

  1. RO6-TO.

Size: 29 × 48 mm.

Used: 20 February 1956 (only recorded date).

Rated: RRRR.

   
  1. RO2-TO.

Size: 36 × 55 mm.

Used: 1 March 1988 (only recorded date).

Rated: RRRR.

   

Only one slogan date stamp was used at Bendigo to advertise the Telegraphic service.

Datestamp: Circle
(diameter: 21 mm).

Base inscription: VIC.

Characteristics:
Die 4B: the A is above the G and the upright of the L, if extended, is to the left of the S above.
No separation marks in the date stamp.

Only recorded date of this format:
17 March 1939.

Number in the Census: 1.

Bendigo SEND
17 March 1939.

Telegraph Offices were also opened in three locations around Bendigo:

  • Bendigo Cricket Ground - opened about 1933 and closed about 1970.
  • Bendigo R.S. - opened about 1910 to 29 July 1977;
  • Bendigo Racecourse - opened about 1933 and closed about 1938.
Bendigo SL
A straight line Bendigo handstamp was also issued
for use with telegrams (see VI-DO-1B).
Geelong.

The Telegraph Office opened in December 1854. On 17 November 1854, the Geelong Advertiser reported (p.4): "We have much pleasure in stating that the line of electric telegraph between Melbourne and Geelong will be completed about Monday next (20th), it being now finished up to within half a mile of the town. The Telegraph Office is to be at the top of Bellerine Street, and is now in the course of construction, but will not be ready for use for the next six weeks. We have been informed that the telegraph will not be worked until this office is finished. We think it is very unfair that the public should have to wait these six weeks until they can have the benefit of quick communication with Melbourne, when the difficulty which at present exists might be obviated by a temporary office either being hired or erected. The operations of the telegraph will mark a new era in journalism. We shall soon be in a position to present our readers every morning with a report of the Legislative Council's proceeding of the previous evening".

Geelong
Geelong Post & Telegraph Office c. 1910.
Geelong 1st PO
The first Telegraph Office in Geelong - probably the temporary office.
Geelong old station
The Old Telegraph Station at 83 Ryrie Street - as from July 1857. (Photographer: John Collins).

Source: State Library of Victoria SLV H96 210449.

The Argus, of 24 January 1855 (p.4) ran the following story from the Geelong Correspondent:

"As the grand principle of the electric telegraph is rapidity of communication, I am at a loss to understand why the Geelong Telegraph Office has been placed beyond the pale of business entirely. Had some fool or evil-disposed person wished to ridicule the affair, or deprive the public of the vast benefits to be derived from the establishment, he could have taken no better step than the Government has done itself by placing the office outside the town, that is, at the corner of Bellerine and McKillop streets, about one mile from the centre of business. Just fancy the Melbourne office being erected at Collingwood and you will have some idea of the inconvenience we shall be afforded, from what you might expect yourselves in that case. The public should endeavor to have this ridiculous arrangement altered at once". The story is continued at length elsewhere.

On 28 January 1857, in the Legislative Assembly, Mr. Childers, in reply to Mr, Fyfe, said it was the intention of the Government to change the site of the present telegraph station at Geelong but the new site had not been determined. He imagined, however, that it would be erected somewhere in the vicinity of the Post Office of that town.

In February 1881, an advertisement for the auction of a property described the lot, in part, as being "a residence in McKillop Street, next door to the old telegraph office".

In October 1887, questions were asked in the Legislative Assembly as to why telegrams delivered near Geelong attracted a 3/- charge.

Geelong wharf
Geelong wharf about 1900.
The Post & Telegraph Office is to the left of the telegraph pole in the centre
and under the high ship masts.

   
   

 

Seven formats for date stamps were used at Geelong:  
The first two issues were 1-hole and 2-hole BELT & BUCKLE date stamps - although the 1-hole format is a very recent discovery.
  1. 1-hole Belt & Buckle:

Used: 12 January 1884.

Size: 27 × 37 mm (e = 0.68).

Rated: RRRR.

Number in the Census: 1.

1884
12 January 1884.
Used on VC-EO-8.
  1. 2-hole Belt & Buckle:

Used in black: 1891 to 30 May 1894.

Size: 26½ × 37½ mm (e = 0.71).

Rated: RRR.

 
  1. TELEGRAPH OFFICE GEELONG/
    VIC.

Characteristics:

  • T V 2½ mm apart;
  • large date line.
  • 2 and 1.5 mm side arcs.

Used in violet: 21 July 1928 to 26 August 1953.

Diameter: 28 mm.

Rated: RRR (WWW 2930).

1928 2.5 mm
21 July 1928.

 

 

  1. TELEGRAPH OFFICE GEELONG/
    VIC.

Characteristics:

  • T-V 4 mm apart;
  • large date line;
  • 1 mm and 1.5 mm side arcs around VIC;
  • Date line aligns between G and L.

Used: 21 July 1930 to 5 February 1955
(in black, violet and blue on particular dates).

Diameter: 28 mm.

Rated: RRR (WWW 2940A).

Geelong 1940
13 March 1931.
Geelong 1932
25 August 1932.
Geelong may 40
11 May 1940.
Used on Mothers' Day form
(AA-GM-39).
This date stamp was also used in violet at the Fire Demonstration in March 1940. Gelong fire cover
Gelong fire detail
Detail from cover below.
5 March 1940.
  1. TELEGRAPH OFFICE GEELONG/
    VIC.

Characteristics:

  • Nylon wheels for the short date line;
  • T-V 4 mm apart;
  • Side arcs are 1 and 1.5 mm.

Used: 5 January 1963 to 3 May 1971.

Diameter: 28 mm.

Rated: RRRR (WWW 2940B).

Geelong 1963
5 January 1963.
(ERD - see Geelong).
(see APO form AA-DO-13D).
Geelong TO 1968
5 October 1968.
 
  1. TELEGRAPH OFFICE GEELONG/
    VIC.

Characteristics:

  • Large date line;
  • T-V 3 mm apart;
  • Side arcs are 1 and 1.5 mm.

Used in black: 19 April 1933 to 7 May 1968.

Diameter: 28 mm.

Rated RR.

TV 3 mm 1934
23 May 1934.
 
  1. E.T.O. GEELONG.

Characteristics:

Long date line.

Used: 21 January 1934 to 1 November 1968.

Diameter: 28 mm.
5 and 6 mm side arcs.

Rated: Scarce.

Geelong ETO cover
12 January 1934.

  ETO detail
Detail of the above cover.
ETO Geelong
17 May 1935.
Postal date stamps used on telegrams: Geelong 1894
Geelong 23 August 1894.
Postal date stamp used on telegram VC-DO-15B.

Diameter: 26 mm.

 

 

 

Telegraph Offices were also opened at four locations around Geelong:
  1. Geelong Cricket Ground.

The Telegraph Office at the ground opened about 1933 and it closed about 1940.

A special date stamp for the ground has never been seen.

 

 

 

  1. Geelong Ford's Works.

The Telegraph Office at the factory opened about 1926 and closed on 14 September 1956.

The date stamp GEELONG FORD'S Works is known for:

  • 1926 with 3mm arc at right.
    Rated: RRRR.
  • 20 November 1935 to 13 September 1954 with 1.5 mm side arc at right.
    Rated: RR
Feelong Fords
20 November 1935.
Fords postage due
8 December 1938.
 
  1. Geelong Railway Station.

The Telegraph Office at the Station opened about 1910 and was reclassified as a PO about 1915. It was then reclassified back to a Telegraph Office about 1940 before closing on 20 August 1976.

No information about a date stamp is available.

     
  1. Geelong Racecourse.

The Telegraph Office at the Racecourse opened about 1933 and closed about 1940. No information about a date stamp is available.

     

Two postal slogans advertising:

  1. HAPPY THOUGHTS! CHRISTMAS ANDNEW YEAR GREETINGS BY TELEGRAM.
  2. SEND A TELEGRAM.

were used at Geelong in December 1941 and in January 1942.

Port Melbourne (Sandridge).

The Telegraph opened as Sandridge in July 1855 as part of the first telegraph line in Victoria.

In 1884, the original name of Sandridge was changed to Port Melbourne.

 

 

Port Melbourne
The Sandridge Post & Telegraph Office is at the far right.
Two date stamps were issued to Port Melbourne Telegraph Office for use with telegraphic business:
  1. A 1 hole Belt & Buckle date stamp:

Used in black: 18 July 1889 to 25 April 1894.

Size: ??

Rated: RRR.

PM April 94
25 April 1894.
(Latest recorded date)
.
  1. A rubber rectangular TELEGRAPH date stamp (RRH1-T)
    Office and telephone.

Used in purple: 13 May 1987.

Size: 31 × 39 mm.

Rated: RRR.

Pt Melb 1987
13 May 1987.



The usual postal date stamp was also used on telegrams: Port Melb 1919
12 June 1919.

Faint postal date stamp on
AE-DO-1D
telegram form sent from
Brisbane to the HMAS Australia
which was docking briefly in Melbourne.

Queenscliff.

The Telegraph Office opened in January 1855. The telegraph posts to Geelong had been fixed in place in November 1954. The Post Office had opened as Shortland's Bluff on 1 May 1853 but changed name to Queenscliff in 1854. The contractor was Mr. G. W. Owen who also constructed the Camberwell-Lilydale telegraph line and ran for the Council in Traralgon in 1900.

Queenscliffe
The Queenscliff(e) Post Office (left) and Free Library.

It did not take long to capitalise on the presence of the Telegraph Office. From January 1855, the Argus was carrying advertisements similar to the following:

QUEENSCLIFFE - To Let, beautifully situated, close to the Beach, a Dwelling House, with detached Kitchen and Offices, well adapted for a large family or a boarding house.

This interesting watering-place can be reached by steamer almost daily, and being connected by telegraph with Melbourne and, having a daily mail, offers a desirable retreat for a mercantile or professional gentleman".

A 1 hole Belt & Buckle date stamp was issued to Queenscliff.

Used in black: 22 January 1886 and 6 April 1894.

Size: 27 × 38 mm (e = 0.70).

Rated: not scarce.

Queens March 24
24 March 1894.
Queenscliff PC

Queens 1886 detail
22 January 1886 - earliest recorded date.

Used on a postcard to the Pilot Board reporting "the Mavis had been brought inside Port Philip Heads by me this day for the purpose of getting provisions".

G&G wrapper
B&B 1894
13 January 1894.

Used on a wrapper to Gordon & Gotch.

Queenscliffe B&B
Queenscliff Belt & Buckle date stamp. 23 April 1890.
Largest recorded multiple of Belt & Buckle strikes on one piece - three strikes across five 1d Naish.
Provenance: Hugh Freeman, Johnstone.

Bob Kent
Source: State Library of Victoria H2010 120/1.
In 1923, Bob Kent was a Telegraph Messenger employed by the PMG Department.

Bob was assigned to the Queenscliff Telegraph Office.

At that time, Bob was aged 14 years.

Williamstown.

The Telegraph Office opened in March 1854 although tenders "for the completion of the erection of the Office" closed on 17 October 1854.

In December 1873, a tender was let for £33 to D. Ross for the purchase and removal of the old Telegraph Office at Williamstown.

Williamstown SLV
Williamstown Post & Telegraph Office in Cole St. facing Nelson St.
Source: State Library of Victoria SLV H86 98 629
Williamstown

The TELEGRAPH OFFICE.
Williamstown Chronicle 25 December 1885.

We trust that the Williamstown Council will continue to agitate until something is done in the direction of extending and modernising the local Post Office. The recent Departmental "concessions" consisted of an alteration of the time table and the placing of a clock underneath the porch.

Councillors seem truly grateful for the small benefits received but the public will not be satisfied until additional premises have been erected wherein to transact the business of the money order, telegraph and savings bank departments. Anything less than this will be considered wholly inadequate for the requirements of the town.

The present enclosure at the disposal of the public is not large enough to swing an able-bodied cat in and it is a crying disgrace that the wing was not enlarged years ago. The Post Office of any small inland town generally affords ample elbow room for the persons who go there to transact their business. It is not a pleasant thing to be obliged to stand cheek by jowl with a person, of an enquiring turn of mind, who is anxious to know where the deuce you are going to send that telegram to why the deuce you should draw all that money from the savings bank. The business done in such places is generally of a semi-private nature and nobody likes to conduct his or her private affairs before a cloud of witnesses.

Councillors must really see the Postmaster-General again and tell him distinctly that running a Telegraph Office and a Bank in a fowl house is not in accord with that spirit of progress for which the Colony is noted".

1 hole Belt & Buckle date stamps were used at Williamstown:

Use in 1st period: 11 March 1885 to 24 November 1891;

Size: 27 × 38 mm (e = 0.70).

Rated: RR.

Williamstown 1885
Used 11 March 1885.
Provenance: Hugh Freeman.
Williamstown 1891
24 November 1891.
Provenance: Hugh Freeman.

Use in 2nd period: 14 December 1892 to 1894.

Dec 14
14 December 1892.
 
21 March 1889.
Belt & Buckle 1 hole date stamp used in black on the postcard to The Advertiser shown below and the reverse side to the right.

Williamstown B&B detail
Detail of the Belt& Buckle date stamp.
Williamstown rev
Reverse side of the postcard to the Advertiser.
Williamstown PC
21 March 1889 Belt & Buckle date stamp on a postcard.

A rubber TELEGRAPH date stamp (RRV1-T) was also used at the Telegraph Office.

Used: 20 June 1942.

Size: 26 × 25 mm.

Rated: RRR.

Number in the Census: 1.

William 1942
20 June 1942.
Used on AB-GCF-39C.
Ordinary postal date stamps were also used on telegrams and for other telegraphic business.

 

Will 13th
Williamstown unframed date stamp.
13 September 1877.
Used on VC-DO-8B.
Earliest recorded use of a date stamp on a Victorian delivery form.
The time ball tower and lighthouse building were separate and slightly removed from the first Telegraph Office. On 13 May 1863, the Sydney Morning Herald reported:
TIME-SIGNAL AT PORT PHILLIP HEADS.
From the Government Gazette.

It is hereby notified that, on and after the 1st May proximo, a time-signal will be given daily (Sundays excepted) by means of a black ball working on the topmast of the flagstaff at Shortland's Bluff.

The signal will correspond to 1 o'clock p.m. mean time, as corrected at the Astronomical Observatory, Williamstown.

The ball will be hoisted to the full height at five minutes before one, and will drop at one o'clock precisely.

In the event of imperfection or incorrectness occurring on any occasion in giving the signal, the No. 2 flag pendant (Marryat's code) will be immediately shown and kept flying at the mast-head for fifteen minutes.

Samuel Walker McGowan,
General Superintendent of Electric Telegraph.
Department of Electric Telegraph.

Williamstown Williamstown 1906