New South Wales - Colonial: 1854-1900.
Overview of developments.

Summaries are provided below for:

  1. construction of the major telegraph line initiatives;
  2. milestones in the Legislation for and the administration of the Telegraph Department in NSW;
  3. the dates for new developments in telegraph forms and date stamps;
  4. extent of usage of the telegraph lines -
    domestic use;
    early international use.

To access copies of original documents, including Annual Reports, etc, see the list elsewhere.

Telegraph lines.

October 1857 and
January 1858.
Liverpool to Sydney and
then Sydney to South Head.
29 October 1858. First line to Victoria (via Albury and Wodonga).
9 November 1861. First line to Queensland (via Tenterfield and Ipswich).
11 September 1866. First line to South Australia (via Wentworth and Overland Corner).
21 February 1876 First telegraphic cable between Australia (NSW - Sydney) and New Zealand (Auckland) opened.
1963 The last Morse Code message on the eastern seaboard was sent between Bombala and Sydney.


April 1854. The Electric Telegraph Bill - First telegraph legislation.
  The name was The Electric Telegraph Department (ETD) from formation in 1854 to 1893.
7 July 1855 Henry Parkes, in the Legislative Council, asked for "copies of correspondence or a statement of steps taken by the Government, with reference to the introduction into the colony of the electric telegraph. The Colonial Secretary said there but been no correspondence, but some negotiations had been commenced"
  Appointment of Captain B. H. Martindale RE, Under-Secretary of Public Works, as Superintendent of Telegraphs.
1857 ETD transferred from Public works to the Postmaster-General.
March 1857 Royal Assent to the Electric Telegraph Act.
January 1858 E. C. Cracknell appointed as Deputy Superintendent of Telegraphs under Martindale until the latter's retirement in January 1861.
25 September 1869 The Government decided in the amalgamation of Post and Telegraph Offices.
14 January 1893 Death of E. C. Cracknell
August 1893 Completed the long transition period of amalgamation of the Post and the Telegraph Department.
1894-1897 Sir Joseph Cook was Postmaster-General of NSW. He was elected as Member for Manly in the House of Representatives from 1901-1921 and Prime Minister 1913-14.


Forms and postmarks.

Earliest recorded forms:  
Transmission form: 11 December 1858 (NC-TO-1).
Delivery form: 11 August 1863 (NC-DO-1).
Delivery form with a space for a date stamp: Redesigned in 1876 (NC-DO-5 - H).
Earliest use of a postal date stamp on a telegram form: 2 October 1876 at Sydney (NC-DO-5 - H).
Earliest use of an oval date stamp: 29 January 1886 at Elec. Tel. Dep., Sydney.
Earliest use of a Telegraph date stamp:

Electric Telegraph Office - on NC-DO-8Ab (6 May 1887)
Postal & Tel. Dept Sydney (23 December 1900);
Telegraph Branch, Sydney (6 March 1913);
Telegraphs Wagga Wagga (18 August 1924) .

Use of stamps to pay telegram costs:  
Telegram stamps: 1873
1885 proposal: 1885
1893 proposal: Stamps and the 6d and 1/- stamped forms.
Telegraphic Money Order system introduced: 1 July 1860.



International use.

Int use After telegraphic connection was made to complete the line from Adelaide to Europe, the demand for the international service grew steadily - despite the high rates charged.

The graph shows the rise in demand for both transmitted and received message - especially from 1876 when the 10s 6d. per word rate was introduced - to nearly 10,000 of each.

The data on which the graph is based are included elsewhere.