Porthcurno (England): Nearly 141 years after
the first telegram was sent from Porthcurno to Bombay, its
contents have been revealed.
According to newly discovered documents, the first message
was dispatched on the night of 23 June, 1870 and was called a
`complimentary telegram` between the `Managing Director in
London and the Manager in Bombay`. The reply was received in 5
minutes, which was a technological feat at the time when
communication between the two countries took months.
The first message was from `Anderson to Stacey: How are
you all?`, to which the reply was: `All well`.
The sylvan Porthcurno valley in Cornwall, located on the
Atlantic coast 506 km south-west of London, was the unlikely
place of a revolution that enabled Britain and its former
colonies to communicate with each other.
Museum officials told a correspondent that
Porthcurno was the hub of international cable communications
from 1870 to 1970, and a training college for the
communications industry until 1993.
Now a museum housing rare equipment and details of the
history of telegraph, Porthcurno has been granted millions of
pounds in funding to develop an international education
programme that includes community groups in India.
Among its rare archives discovered last week is a
collection of the first telegraph message sent from
Porthcurno and Mumbai (then Bombay).
After the first message, the second one from Anderson
read: `Please ask gentlemen of the press, Bombay, to send a
message to gentlemen of the press, New York`.
After several messages that night, including some to the
governor of Bombay, from Lady Mayo to viceroy Lord Mayo based
in Shimla, and one from the Prince of Wales to the viceroy, a
response was received from journalists based in Bombay.
It said: `From the Press of India to the Press of
America: The Press of India sends salaam to the Press of
America. Reply quick`.
The document notes that the viceroy of India had sent a
telegraph to the president of the United States and "received
a reply which reached him in 7 hours 40 minutes".
The viceroy`s message, which was read in the American
Congress the same evening, was: "The Viceroy of India for the
first time speaks direct by telegraph with the President of
the United States. May the completion of the long line of
uninterrupted communication be the emblem of lasting union
between the Eastern and Western World".
Telegraphic communication with India was first
established in 1864 by overland telegraph lines from Europe to
the top of the Persian Gulf and then by an undersea cable to
Karachi, but the overland section was never satisfactory,
prompting efforts to lay more reliable cables below the sea.