The Garden Guide

Book: London Parks and Gardens, 1907
Chapter: Chapter 7 Municipal Parks in South London

Telegraph Hill

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TELEGRAPH HILL Between these two extremes lies a small Park known as Telegraph Hill. It is only 9.5 acres, and is cut in two by a road, but it is very varied in surface. The origin of its name is from its having been a station for a kind of telegraphy that was invented before the electric telegraph had been discovered. Two brothers Chappe invented the system, and were so successful in telegraphing the news of a victory in 1793, that their plan was adopted in France, and soon throughout Europe. In Russia a large sum was expended in establishing a line of communication between the German frontier and St. Petersburg; but so slow was the building that the stations were hardly at work before they were superseded by electricity. The signals were made by opening and shutting six shutters arranged on two frames on the roofs of a small house, and by various combinations sixty-three signals could be formed. The Admiralty established the English line, of this form of telegraphy between Dover and London in 1795, and the first public news of the battle of Waterloo actually reached London by means of the one on "Telegraph Hill." The place was well chosen, for even now, all surrounded by houses, the hill is so steep and conical, that a very extensive view is still obtained. The site of the semaphore station is now a level green for lawn tennis. On the other side of the roadway, the descent is steep into the valley, and there are two small ponds at the bottom. The cliffs are covered with turf, interspersed by the usual meaningless clumps of bushes, and a few nice trees.