Thursday, February 25, 2010

The telegraphic mysteries

The telegraph address of the Enfield Cycle company was "Cycles, Phone, Redditch" and that of its London depot was "Jigger, Cent, London". The telegraphic address system was set by the post office in the UK at the end of the 19th century. Companies would "rent" a name (in the above examples "Cycles" and "Jigger") to identify them. The middle word in the address is less clear. I consulted with Sam Hallas who in turn consulted the Telecoms Heritage Group and it appears that the word either indicates the closest post office or the means of delivery. Therefore "phone" meant the telegrams were delivered by phone to the Redditch office, whereas "Cent" refers to the old Central Telegraph Office in London (located near the current BT Center at St Paul's Tube station). The last word obviously was the town. Some company names were very popular and there was competition for them, forcing sometimes some creative solutions (as a name spelled backwards). What could be the origin of the name "Jigger" for the London depot? Did someone have a sense of humor? Speculations are welcome!

If the messenger boys of the Central post office had used Google maps to find the walking route to the Enfield depot, this is what they would have got,

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