In 1853 the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway began installing a railway telegraph system along its line from London Bridge through Forest Hill. This involved erecting an electric cable on poles alongside the line, connecting the signal boxes.
Also in 1853, a plot of land at the edge of a very large field was leased by the Earl of Dartmouth, Lord of the Manor of Lewisham, to Harry and Vincent Nicholls, two brothers with a brewery at Lee.
The large field was known as Pikethorne and had been owned by the Lord of the Manor since the 14th century.
Lord Dartmouth leased the rest of the field to a local developer, who began building houses. The Vincent brothers built a pub on their part of the field - and called it the Railway Telegraph.
The brothers employed John Hunter as the first landlord of the Railway Telegraph. He was granted a licence on 29th September 1853.
Courtesy of Steve Grindlay, local historian