The Trafalgar Way: how communications have changed in 200 years

You might know that Datanet recently celebrated our 18th year in business communications and to reflect the changes we have seen we thought we would tell you about a local monument or plaque depicting how communications were 200 years ago. Just around the corner from the Datanet offices and AHF data centre is the 18th “Post-Horse Change” on “The Trafalgar Way” – what you might call the original line of communication (the tweets and broadband of yesteryear) – which dates back to 1805


The story of The Trafalgar Way is fascinating, especially when you bear in mind that this was the fastest method of communications in 1805. It was the ‘private circuit, email or tweet’ that was used to communicate the death of Lord Nelson and the decisive and successful naval battle against French and Spanish fleets – on 21 October 1805.

The news was carried, at first by sea to Falmouth, by one Captain John Lapenotière.  He then took 37 hours to cover the 271-mile journey – taking him right past the site on which we would built our  data centre 200 years later –changing horses 21 times.  And each horse change came at a price, “one pound fifteen shillings and sixpence” the plaque tells us, which concludes:

“Lapenotière delivered his dispatches to the Admiralty at 1am on Wednesday 6th November.  The news was passed to the Prime Minister and the King and special editions of newspapers were published later the same day to inform the nation of this great victory.”

We find that quite inspirational – to think that back in 1805 there existed a dedicated line of communication, private and secure, taking news from a far off battlefield, uninterrupted, from the site of the action to government and then on to the media. That’s over two weeks for this momentous news to reach King and country, contrast that with today’s hunger for real-time news.

WNelson columnhat on earth would Lapenotière and the Admiralty have made of 2014’s equivalent, with his news being carried – perhaps as high-res video – by fibre cables at the speed of light virtually?

If you want to see the original 18th post horse change plaque (photo above) then you are welcome to visit us at the Datanet Aspen House Fleet data centre so you can see modern communications in action just around the corner from Hartford Bridge where Conleth McCallan, MD of Datanet, takes business clients to lunch at the White Lion where the plaque resides. July’14.


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