First telegram message from England to India revealed

First telegram message from England to India revealed

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 visiting PTI 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.