Telegram Messengers - home page.

The Telegram Messenger was highly regarded as being the last link in the almost instantaneous electric connections between the sender and the receiver of a telegraphic message.

Telegram messengers are discussed under several headings:

Recruitment. Includes advertisement, selection tests and appointment.
Opportunities for girls.  
Conditions and salary. New South Wales
  Western Australia
Uniforms. Covers the special cap and the delivery pouch.
Modes of transport. Includes especially horses and bicycles.

When the newspapers are read about the retirement of people distributed throughout Australia up to the 1960s, it is astounding to see how many started working as Telegraph Messengers. Examples include stories in the Cairns Post (about Mr Anthony Postmaster-General), in the Argus (about a Cabinet Minister, a Bishop and 2 Department Heads), in the Canberra Times (Chief Electoral Officer), in the Townsville Daily Bulletin (Deputy Director Qld P&T),


The Wagga Wagga Advertiser of 10 January 1877 is typical of the many comments made of the commitment by the boys who acted as messengers and the paltry costs incurred by their employment:

"During the last year or so, as we have reason to believe, the business of the Wagga Telegraph Office has very considerably increased and the number of messages delivered daily must try rather severely the stamina of the single messenger, who is kept upon the trot almost continuously. Whether the messenger is thus overworked or not is a matter entirely for his own consideration and that of his employers.

But the telegraphing public, to whom promptitude in the delivering of messages is of the utmost importance, are individually and collectively interested from another aspect of the subject. It stands to reason that if the messenger has a telegram to take to the Convent Hill or any other distant part, all others—say those for North Wagga or the main town — must wait in the office till his return, however urgent, and important they may be. Everyone knows that a few journeys on foot in this weather, between extreme limits of the township, are enough to tire out the best disposed boy, or at least are not calculated to quicken his movements. The prompt delivery of telegrams after their receipt is of the highest importance to all of us, and it is a stupid subversion of the whole principle of telegraphy to put any difficulty in the way of this final activity.

We cannot find fault with the messenger himself, for we are told that on some days he is at work from 8 a.m. till 10 p.m. with scarcely time for his meals. But, as we said before, this is not our matter. What the business people of the place have a right to demand is that there should be more energy employed in the delivery of their telegrams. We have before urged the separation of the postal and telegraph service in the local office and we believe that were this done, there would be more attention paid to the delivery of telegrams. No one can question this, that rapid delivery is the main object of the telegraphic service, and the only way to secure this is to provide the messenger with a horse, so that a missive could reach its destination at any part of the town within a few minutes after arrival.

We can scarcely doubt that if this necessity were represented in the proper quarter, the trifling expense of a horse for the telegraph messenger would be readily incurred".