From the Darlington & Stockton Times of October 7, 1871

THERE was great excitement in Reeth 150 years ago this week as the telegraph arrived.

“For some time past, workmen have been employed in erecting posts and fixing a telegraph wire all along the road from Richmond to Reeth in order to place the district of Swaledale, which is daily increasing in commercial importance, in ready communication with all parts of the world,” said the D&S Times.

“On Wednesday morning, the office was opened at eight o’clock, and the excitement it produced was something curious. Everybody wanted to send off the first message. During the last few weeks, applications actually rolled in to the postmaster from all grades of society, soliciting the privilege of despatching the first message.


An Edwardian postcard of Reeth

An Edwardian postcard of Reeth

“However, the first message had long been bespoke, and a few minutes after the opening of the office on Wednesday, the first message from Reeth arrived in Darlington. It was from Mr J Barker to the D&S Times office, and by 8.20 a message of congratulations reached Reeth in reply.”

Even if the dear old D&S had hogged the first message, the people of Reeth were astounded by the arrival of the latest technology in their midst.

The children, said the D&S, were taken by the music that poured forth from the telegraph wires when the wind blew, and “some of the ‘ancients’ actually expect the wires to convey parcels and letters,” giggled the paper’s reporter. “There is, however, one thing they cannot understand, and that is how the parcels and letters can possibly get through the insulators.”