Railway Telegraph, Forest Hill

Railway Telegraph

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Railway Telegraph

In 1853 the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway began installing a railway telegraph system along its line from London Bridge through Forest Hill. This involved erecting an electriccable on poles alongside the line, connecting the signal boxes.
 
Also in 1853 a plot of land at the edge of a very large field was leased by the Earl of Dartmouth, Lord of the Manor of Lewisham and owner of the field, to Harry and Vincent Nicholls, two brothers with a brewery at Lee. They built a pub on the site and called it the Railway Telegraph, apparently a very early example of a pub tied to a particular brewery.
The large field was known as Pikethorne and had been owned by the Lord of the Manor since the 14th century. It was bounded by Sunderland Road, Stanstead Road, Westbourne Road and South Road. Lord Dartmouth leased the rest of the field to a local developer who began building prestigious houses. The estate was called Dartmouth Park.
 
Christ Church, at the peak of the hill which must at one time have been covered with thorns, and the Railway Telegraph, at the bottom of the hill, were among the first buildings to be erected. The Vincent brothers employed John Hunter as the first landlord of the Railway Telegraph. He was granted a licence on 29th September 1853.
Courtesy of Steve Grindlay, local historian