The Shutter Telegraph was conceived at the time Napoleon was a threat to Britain and followed the successful implementation of the system employed by the Chappe Brothers in France.|
Britain however, was looking for a less complicated system, cheaper and easier to operate, requiring little or no training of personnel to run it. In 1795 following a request from the Admiralty two designs were put forward for consideration , one from John Gamble which employed five shutters and one from Lord Murray which used six. The Admiralty chose Murray's design.
Murray's design consisted of a timber building with a twenty foot high frame mounted on the roof. In this frame were six shutters: two mounted horizontally and three vertically which were pivoted about their centres. Each shutter was approximately three feet or one metre square and could be opened and closed using ropes from inside the building. The six shutters gave a total of sixty-three combinations and these were used to provide letters of the alphabet, numbers and other short codes.
Long before the electric telegraph came on the scene a method of communication existed that relied on line of sight, using relay stations set up at points visible to the next one. This was no new idea as some similar system was used by the Romans to communicate from hilltop to hilltop.
One route required was from Great Yarmouth. This was the time of the Napoleonic Wars and Yarmouth being the most easterly naval station was important for the defence of the North Sea and the Baltic. The first official message was sent via the new Telegraph in 1808 when the Admiral based in Yarmouth reported to the Admiralty in London "Calypso ready for sea" The relay station was sited on Long Hill Newmarket at a spot known as 'The King's Seat', as it was a favourite spot of Charles II when out walking; this being on the north side of Moulton Road close to where Warren Towers now stands. From this high point (elevation 260 ft) there would have been uninterrupted views to the next relay stations SW to Gog & Magog Hills Cambridge and NE to Icklingham Suffolk (Telegraph Plantation).
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