London Blog

The Scientific Tourist In London: #13 The First Electric Telegraph

Westbound this week, to one of my favourite parts of town: the riverine stretch between Hammersmith and Chiswick. Here, among the heritage pubs and dunking cormorants, you will find the home of cheesemonger-turned-inventor Sir Francis Ronalds (1788-1873). In the back garden of this squat house, the first real demonstration of electrical telegraphy was achieved. Although completely superseded by modern comms, the telegraph was a game-changing technology in its day, allowing near-instantaneous communication over great distances. Previously, the only way to impart urgent news was by sending a rider, who might take weeks to cross a continent. Ancient expedients such as 


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