A. Robinson
England Engine Order
Telegraph Bridge

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Presented is a smaller size, two control, Engine Order Telegraph
for the bridge from A. Robinson of Liverpool and Glasgow whose operations date back to 1780. In 1968, Robinson was purchased
by the largest maker of these devices, Chadburns, who at one time accounted for over 75% of the worlds marine telegraph production
and is still in business today. They now make a diversified list of marine products.

This style solid brass enunciator, mounted on an iron pedestal, was
installed in the bridge of a smaller sized vessel.  It has a double black enameled dial with the
standard Ahead and Astern commands STOP. SLOW, HALF, FULL.  Moving the handles through and back to the speed rang
an internal bell.

The external kerosene lamp housing helps date it to late in the 19th Century or the
Turn of the 20th Century. Not pictured, is the lamp which is included. It was discovered in New England.



Dial 8″ D x 5 3/4“ W
Overall    36 1/2″H x 4 1/2″ tube X 9″
Handles add 2 1/2“
Weight 45 pounds
CONDITION: In good original condition with all hardware and internal
chains present. The handles move, but the bell does not ring. The face plates are replacements, and Glasgow is misspelled.
The burner for the kerosene lamp is missing.




1870. London, 01 September 1870 – patent No.2384 applied for, in the names of Chadburn,C.H.
and Chadburn,William. Thus started the business for: telegraphs, mechanical – for use in ships, but also in railway stations,
mines, buildings etc..The joint inventors hailed from Sheffield, Yorkshire, as opticians, with at least 50 years experience!

1875. The first vessel fitted with their Telegraph appears to be SS IONA III,
built in Glasgow 1864. 

1884. By this year, 3000 installations had been made. 

1898. CHADBURN’S (SHIP) TELEGRAPH CO. LTD was formed and the brass pedestal
telegraph was by now well established. It included vertical levers and scales for Bridge use, with a reply telegraph in the
Engine room, but also steering and docking telegraphs.

1900. 6000 commercial and 850 naval vessels (400 in the Royal Navy) had been
fitted, The cumulative record of 90,000 installations was publicized in the mid-1930s, to coincide with the launching
of ocean passenger liners such as “Normandie”.

1920. Electric telegraphs, steam whistles and fog bells were developed to meet demand
from new motor ships – by now competition was discernible, but Chadburn still held a 75% monopoly worldwide. The company also
made oil separators and milling machines. Searchlight controls also proved a  success. William’s son, Roy Chadburn took
over the helm as M.D. as World War I ended and he was the instigator of these two product lines; he left to start up a sister
company in Canada eight years late.

1941. A traumatic year, due to enemy action over Merseyside. The expansion, with
24 hour working at Chadburns, came to a sudden halt when the factory was bombed in the final night of the week long air raid
on 07 May. All records, tooling and stock were destroyed. Drawings had to be re-couped from customers, including the Admiralty.
Fortunately, all the employees survived

1946. Production had been scattered in a number of small premises for
five years. now was consolidated in their 5 acres/2 hectare single storey plant at Park Lane, Bootle. To offset changes in
demand from marine to land-based industries, the Company also built cranes and made rod gearing etc.. The name was soon to

Post-war the ‘Synchrostep’ telegraph/rudder position trademarks were now registered.
Bridge control for the engine room could now be foreseen. The Company acquired a competitor,Mechans Telegraphs of Glasgow,
and re-organized the branch network in the UK. As the post-war boom continued there were more than 100,000 installations of
their mechanical telegraphs

1968. The well-known aircraft and boat controls maker, Bloctube
of Aylesbury UK, was acquired and relocated to the main factory and HQ. Soon afterwards the other local telegraph
engineers A.Robinson & Co. joined the Group.
The marketing company was now named CHADBURN BLOCTUBE LTD.,and
remained under this name for the next 20 years. There was a third Liverpool manufacturer, J.W. Ray’s telegraphs,well respected
even though their telegraphs were fitted to the ill-fated “Titanic”, and her two sister ships.

1980-1988. During the shipbuilding crisis in the UK and EU the Company inevitably
suffered a decline, and the last director/chairman, Denby Chadburn Bamford, retired in 1983. Bloctube was spun off from its
plc owner. The Company moved to Leeds, where an instrument company led by a Swedish businessman incorporated the marine
division under one roof, in a modern, high-tech factory. Appropriately, the firm was named BLOCTUBE MARINE LIMITED, as successors
to Chadburn Marine Development.

In 2006 the business is still making telegraph systems and electronic
instruments, sold predominantly for export. It is directed by Yorkshire people – the company has returned to the roots it
first started and flourished in Victorian times!
Courtesy of Chadburns
Ship Telegraph Society


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