Chadburn's Telegraph Co. | Liverpool | 1870

Following the late 19th century granting of Prince Albert's Royal Warrant, a type of certification or proof that enables a supplier to advertise that they produce goods for the Royal Family,  Chadburn Brothers were celebrated as one of the oldest businesses, "founded over a century ago", in the Kingdom of England. Producing optics and marine instruments and scientific gauges. 

Liverpool, North West England, 1870 an application by William Chadburn was submitted with the prospect of patenting a communication device. The patent proposed was to produce an instrument used aboard ships as a means of transferring navigational signals from the pilot house to the engine room. By 1875, Chadburn & Son were in production. The result was the brass engine order telegraph

Not long in business and as luck would have it that William Chadburn lived two doors down form Thomas Ismay, founder of the prestigious White Star Line, owner of the ocean liner RMS Titanic. Their relationship grew to a business affiliation where White Star employed Chadburns instruments on their ocean liners. Chadburns manufactured the engine room telegraphs and steam whistles, to name a few, for use on Titanic. 

The telegraph is generally comprised of a dial of "ahead" and "astern" commands with a lever atop a pedestal encased in a metal or alloy, usually brass. Telegraphs are operated by moving the lever in the required direction, which rings the telegraph bell of both the locations of the bridge and the engine room.

General commands include:  

Full Ahead, Half Ahead, Slow Ahead, Dead Slow Ahead ,Stop, Dead slow astern, Slow Astern, Half Astern & Full Astern

During this time, Chadburn & Son occupied a plant at 71 Lord St. and promoted themselves as manufacturers of telegraphs and other instruments used in vessels of various navies and and mercantile marines.  By 1884, it is noted that over 3,000 employed a Chadburn & Son telegraph.

In April of 1939, now located on Castle St. near the Liverpool headquarters of the Bank of England, the Chadburn plant suffered a loss during an IRA bombing campaign. Among the damage reported was the plant's wrought iron front gate forcibly blown from it's hinges, flying across the street impacting adjacent buildings. Four bombings exploded in Liverpool this day within 45 minutes. 

The Chadburn brand changed it's name to Chadburn Ship Telegraph Company and merged with or absorbed other marine equipment suppliers such as Bloctube and A. Robinson.The early part of the 20th century brought Chadburn to America, still manufacturing telegraphs and added binnacles, binoculars, steering stations and special equipment for the United States Navy in Troy, New York.  

Chadburn is most definitely the premier telegraph brand. 


Researched & Assembled by Susan Donnelly