Engaging with Communications

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Victoria Railway Station

Important transport hub and electrical telegraph training centre

Grid reference: SJ 840 990

Map showing the location of Manchester Victoria Railway Station

Manchester Victoria Railway Station
Manchester Victoria Railway Station

The original 1844 station designed by Robert Stephenson, but it was extended the 1880s and in 1903. Notable features include the combined platform of 2,194 ft, the delicate glass and iron canopy, the restaurant with its coloured glass, the panelled booking hall, the wall map in white tiles and the main façade dating from 1903, which was designed by William Dawes and has exotic destinations along its length.

Lancashire and Yorskhire Railway map at Manchester Victoria Railway station
Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway tile map

The railways played a key role in the development of communications. Up until the development of the railways, the main driver for improved telecommunications was the military and government. Such systems were based on optical, line of sight signalling. However, the railways brought new challenges in terms of being able to determine the position of trains along the track, in all weathers, at night, in tunnels and around curves. The first fully practical electriical telegraph system was demonstrated in 1837 on the London to Birmingham Railway. Therafter, the development and expansion of the national electrical telegraph network followed that of the railways.

Lancashire and Yorskhire School of Signalling two needle electric telegraph
Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway School of Signalling two needle telegraph. (Connecting Manchester, Gallery, Museum of Science and Industry)

The Manchester & Leeds Railway Company (later the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway) opened Manchester's first electrical telegraph office in Oldham Road Station in 1842 and then here, at Manchester Victoria (fomerly Hunts Bank) in 1844. The Lancashire ad Yorskhire Railway opened their School of Signalling here to train operators in the use of the electrical telegraph.

In 1852, the English and Irish Magnetic Telegraph Co. opened one of Manchester’s first public telegraph offices here.