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Charles Todd portrait as a young man
Title : Charles Todd portrait as a young man Charles Todd portrait as a  young man
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Creator : Artist unknown
Source : B 69996/11
Date of creation : ca. 1845
Format : Artwork
Contributor : State Library of South Australia
Catalogue record
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Description :

Oil portrait of Charles Todd as a young man in England, dated approximately 1845.

"TODD, Sir CHARLES (1826-1910), astronomer, meteorologist and electrical engineer, was born on 7 July 1826 at Islington, London, second son of Griffith Todd, grocer and tea merchant of Greenwich. Educated locally he was appointed to the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, as a supernumerary computer in 1841; he showed ability in mathematics and potential as an observer. As junior assistant to Professor Challis at the Cambridge university observatory in 1848-54 he assisted in the determination of longitude between the Cambridge and Greenwich observatories by telegraphic means. Early in 1854 he returned to Greenwich as superintendent of the galvanic apparatus for the transmission of time signals. This involved close co-operation with the Electric Telegraph Co., and also with C. V. Walker, electrical engineer to the South Eastern Railway, who was one of the pioneer experimenters with submarine cables. Todd became fascinated with telecommunications. In 1855 the South Australian government requested Sir George Airy, the astronomer royal, to select an observer and superintendent of electric telegraph at a salary of 400 pounds; he nominated Todd, who was appointed on 10 February. He reached Port Adelaide in the Irene on 4 November." (Symes)

It was in South Australia that Todd established his reputation. His earliest achievement in the colony was the completion of the first government telegraph between Adelaide and its port in 1856. Links to Melbourne and Sydney followed within a few years. In 1870 Todd was made postmaster-general and superintendent of telegraphs and convinced the South Australian government to agree to a scheme that he had been advocating since 1859 - that of a transcontinental telegraph. This is his best remembered achievement: the construction of the Overland Telegraph Line from Adelaide to Darwin. The line was completed in August 1872 and cable communication began in earnest a couple of months later. The Overland Telegraph connected with an underwater cable to Java, which linked Asia and Europe.

Todd was involved in the establishment of the Adelaide Observatory (on West Terrace) in 1860. He also established a system of relaying meteorological observations by telegraph throughout South Australia and the Northern Territory.

Todd served the South Australian government for 50 years and his service was so valued that the parliament chose not to pass a Bill for compulsory retirement at 70 until after Todd had chosen to retire.

Related names :

Todd, Charles, Sir, 1826-1910

Coverage year : 1845
Period : 1836-1851
Place : Adelaide, South Australia
Further reading :

Australian Post Office, The centenary of the Adelaide-Darwin overland telegraph line : papers presented to a symposium Sydney : Australian Post Office, 1972

W. L. Manser, The Overland Telegraph: whose idea? B.A. Hons thesis, University of Adelaide, 1961

Personal papers of Sir Charles Todd (PRG 630)

Symes, G.W. 'Todd, Sir Charles (1826 - 1910)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, Melbourne University Press, 1976, pp 280-283.

Internet links :
Australian dictionary of biography online edition Sir Charles Todd (1826-1910)

SA Memory, Foundation of South Australia 1800-1851 Charles Todd

SA Memory: Treasures of the State Library of South Australia: Overland Telegraph Line



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