Electric Telegraph Company

Part of a document showing the company seal.
1854 stamps of the Electric Telegraph Company.
An Electric & International Telegraph Company telegram and envelope, 28 July 1868.

The Electric Telegraph Company was the world's first public telegraph company, founded in the United Kingdom in 1846 by Sir William Fothergill Cooke and John Lewis Ricardo, MP for Stoke-on-Trent.

At creation the company purchased all the patents Cooke and Wheatstone had obtained to date.[1] It merged with the International Telegraph Company in 1855 to become the Electric and International Telegraph Company.[2] C.F. Varley was chief engineer in the 1860s.

The company was nationalised by the British government in 1870[2] and British Telecom, the giant multi-national communications corporation based in over 170 countries worldwide today, is a direct descendant of Cooke's Electric Telegraph Company.[3]

Historical documents

Records of the Electric Telegraph Company (33 volumes), 1846-1872, the International Telegraph Company (5 volumes), 1852-1858 and the Electric and International Telegraph Company (62 volumes), [1852]-1905 are held by BT Archives.


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