Telegraph of Gold Coast of Africa

[Trade Journal]

Publication: The Telegrapher

New York, NY, United States
vol. 10, no. 395, p. 32, col. 2

The Electric Telegraph on the Gold Coast



A LARGE number of men, of all colors, castes and creeds, are employed under the Royal Engineers in the construction of the land telegraph lines on the Gold Coast. Wherever it is practicable trees are substituted for telegraph posts without cutting them down. By means of the light wire and small insulators sent out from Henley's Telegraph Factory at North Woolwich, these men, with no other tools than a light ladder, large gimlet, a handsaw and axe, can complete six miles of line per day when the way is tolerably clear through the bush. The number of insulators and tree posts per mile varies according to the nature of the ground. The average on level ground is eighteen intermediate and three straining posts per mile, which makes a span of eighty-four yards, and on hilly and difficult ground there are as many as twenty-six posts to the mile, and, in exceptional instances, there are spans of two hundred yards. The telegraph apparatus employed in the Gold Coast expedition against the Ashantees is the invention of Sir Charles Wheatstone, and is contained in a compact box, thirteen inches long, eight inches broad and seven inches deep, the weight of the whole being under twenty-five pounds. The electric power is derived from a permanent magnet within the instrument, a constant series of currents from which is obtained by a rotation of a small iron armature placed before its poles and turned by a handle in front. The signals are made by successive depressions of lettered finger keys arranged round the dial plate. By means of these instruments camp and field messages can be transmitted, at the rate of twenty words per minute, a distance of one hundred or two hundred miles. The object in erecting the field telegraph is that of making known the enemy's position or numerical strength, to order arms and reinforcements from distant stations, and to control any military and strategic movements found necessary in the war on the Gold Coast with the Ashantees. It is the first time field telegraphy has been employed by the English in actual warfare.


Researcher notes: 
Supplemental information: 
Researcher:Bob Stahr
Date completed:December 24, 2005 by: Elton Gish;