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Friday, 7 August 2009

Angus Croll and the electric telegraph

Another project was the United Kingdom Telegraph Company. It was said that when Croll opened the Great Central Gas Works at Bow that when the mains were laid to the City of London telegraph cables were also run through them for instant communication. The UKTC was formed in 1851 to develop telegraphs over public highways. Croll was a director, described in their prospectus as a 'contractor' who held 3,000 shares. What he contracted for is not clear- was it gas supply? The telegraph system was developed along canal tow paths and, despite great opposition, began work in 1860 using an early type printing telegraph. In 1871 the company gave a great banquet for Croll in the City Guildhall at which they presented him with a vast and extremely orate silver object. Croll, it was, claimed had made the company financially secure through his negotiations in Scotland and Denmark, involving his personal friends.

By the 1850s he was living in some style in the East End of London - at Howrah House (now a nunnery) in the East India Dock Road. He was clearly a rich man. He claimed to have been supported in all these efforts by James Wyld, the younger - geographer and Liberal MP. His political connections and social position were considerable. He was a Sheriff of London and Middlesex, later a Magistrate for the City of London and for Reigate in Surrey. Croll seems to have had a social conscience and is said to have written a pamphlet on prison reform as the result of seeing Danish prisons in the 1870s - copies of this have not been traced.

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