The Semaphore Line

Putney Heath! Vital communication link between London and Portsmouth! Or at least, it was in the early nineteenth century.

It wasn't easy to send a fast message in the early 1800s; no telephones, no trains, not much that could go faster than a messenger on a horse. One solution was the semaphore line: a series of towers, each tower positioned so that you could just see the tower before it, and the tower after. On top of each tower there were big wooden paddles that you could swivel around, using codes to send messages. A message would start in central London; then the next tower, in Chelsea, would pick it up and send it on; and then a tower on Putney Heath, then one on Cabbage Hill... and so on, all the way to Portsmouth.

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Picture of Claude Chappe, inventor of the semaphore telegraph
Story source: Semaphore Line (wikipedia).