Telegraph Offices in Melbourne City.

By the end of 1880, there were seven offices - apart from the Central Telegraph Office - operating within the city. Two more Telegraph Offices were added later.

Customs House.

On 15 July 1872, a branch Telegraph Office was opened at the eastern end of Customs House to facilitate the access by merchants to telegraph and money order facilities after the removal of the Chief Telegraph Office to new premises on the corner of Elizabeth and Little Bourke Streets. Telegrams were still sent and received at the head office and messages were carried between offices on horseback. Two horses were used each way with a transit time of between five to seven minutes.

Almost immediately on the opening of the office, a deputation from the Melbourne Stock Exchange waited upon the Postmaster-General to ask him to erect a line to the Hall of Commerce in Collins Street, for the convenience of the brokers. "Mr. Langton remarked that he failed to see how a separate wire to such a branch would facilitate the despatch of business to the chief mining centres, as communications sent to the telegraph station at the Post Office, where there were seven wires to Ballarat and five to Sandhurst, stood a much better chance of being sent away without delay than if they had to wait their turn by a single wire at the branch office. The deputation then requested that private boxes, similar to those to be obtained at the Post Office, might be constructed at the Hall of Commerce, and that messages arriving for the brokers who possessed them might be dropped into the boxes by the telegraph messengers. Mr. Langton promised to consider the application.

In connexion with this matter, Mr. James, of the Telegraph Department, made a suggestion which, if adopted, would prove of great convenience to the brokers. It was that a pneumatic tube should be laid between the telegraph Office and the Hall of Commerce and that messages arriving for the brokers should be sent direct from the office by that means and deposited by a clerk at the hall in the private boxes before mentioned".

A pneumatic tube system was eventually laid down between the offices.

On 29 April 1876, the Deputy Postmaster-General Mr Turner announced that the Post Office and Electric Telegraph Office at the branch office in William Street was removed to the south-east corner of Customs House "where the letter receiving pillar is also placed".

Finally a wire linking the Chief Telegraph Office to Customs House was erected during 1879. It overcame the need to deliver messages using mounted messengers.

Degraves Street.

The Post & Telegraph Office was formerly Commerce House which had been opened on 8 July 1914. The change of name to Degraves Street was effected on 17 November 1956.

On 29 August 1986, the name changed again to Flinders Lane.

A rubber circular TELEGRAPH date stamp was used over two time periods and in different inks.
  1. in magenta.

Size: 32 mm diameter.

Used: 6 February 1985 to 25 February 1986.

Rated: RRR.

Del 1985
6 February 1985 (earliest recorded date).
  1. in violet.

Size: 32 mm diameter.

Used: 25 February 1986.

Rated: RRR.

Feb 1986
25 February 1986 (only recorded date).

Eastern Market.

On 8 January 1880, The Argus reported that "a branch Telegraph Office, Post Office, Receiving House, Money Order office and Savings Bank have been opened at the Eastern Market, corner of Bourke and Stephen streets. Telegraphic communication has also been extended to Morang, on the Plenty Road. These offices are now available to the public". 

Elizabeth Street North.

This branch Post & Telegraph Office was opened in August 1879 by erecting a building "on a portion of the reserve at the junction of Elizabeth Street North and Victoria Street occupied by the Department as a storeyard".



The Telegraph Office opened during 1861 or 1862. In December 1880, 2,661 messages with a value of £223 3s 6d were sent.

On 9 August 1881, the Argus reported that Mr. P. R. Challen, who represented the Post & Telegraph Department at the Melbourne International Exhibition had been appointed to rhe charge of the Telegraph Branch at the Exchange, Collins Street West.

The Office was reclassified as a Post Office about June 1891.

This office was in direct communication with the principal mining centres. It was renamed the Stock Exchange in 1893.

No special date stamp inscribed TELEGRAPH was issued the this office. Instead a duplex was used.

Size: 22 mm diameter.

Used: 10 April 1891 - 25 October 1892..

Rated: RRRR.

Number in the Census: 1.


10 April 1891 - earliest recorded date..


The Age of 20 August 1859 reported on the meeting of Directors of the Exchange. In part, this noted:

"Having heard that the Electric Telegraphs Department contemplated new arrangements for offices, your directors at once placed themselves in communication with the Hon. the Commissioner of Public Works on the subject and finally agreed to let the two front offices (ground floor), four offices in the basement and a partition from the reading room at the rate of £450 per annum, for one year certain, with the option of renewal, at the same rate, for one or two years longer. By this arrangement a telegraphic messenger will be dispensed with and a saving effected of £60 per annum".

The Ballarat Star of 23 June 1863 reported that

"an extraordinary General Meeting of the shareholders of the Melbourne Exchange Company was held on the previous day with J. Graham, Esq., in the chair. The Report of the Directors was read and was to the following effect: That the meeting should let to the Government the present premises of the Exchange for telegraphic purposes for three years, at an annual rent of £800".

See the above discussion on Customs House and the later developments after the Exchange was renamed the Stock Exchange in 1893.


The Telegraph Office at the Exhibition Building was opened on 18 August 1880 with the Post Office opening on 20th. The two offices closed on 30 April 1881.

The Post Office for the second Exhibition operated from 16 July 1888 to 1889. The Telegraph and Post Offices continued to operate in the premises without the major exhibitions.

The Geelong Advertiser reported on 28 January 1899 that "Acting under instructions from the Geelong Town Council, Mr H. F. Richardson, as agent for the lessee of the Exhibition buildings, has given the Postal Department notice to give up possession of the office they occupy in the buildings, and the Department has accepted same, and will close the office from and after the 19th proximo. The Telegraph Office in the Exhibition Buildings in the past has been a great convenience to a large section of the business people, and to those in a hurry to catch the steamers and train and yet, without any sense or reason, the office is objected to by a clique who have closed the Exhibition Theatre".

A 1 hole Belt & Buckle date stamp was used at the Exhibition Post & Telegraph Office.

Used in black: 23 October 1888 to 31 December 1888.


Rated: RR.

Number in the Census: 2.

23 October 1888.

31 December 1888
(latest recorded date).

Flinders Street Station.

Flinders Street was the first railway station in an Australian City - opened on 12 September 1854 as the Melbourne Terminus. The imposing and well-known structure was finally completed in 1909.

After a second platform was added in 1877, a Telegraph Office was opened in 1879. Nothing further

The Telegraph Office opened about 1898 but was reclassified as a Post Office about 1915. It closed the following year.

The Office was issued with two formats of a circular steel FLINDERS ST TEL OFFICE V-R:

  • diameter 27.5 and used in blue from 6 April 1898 to 1 March 1902 which was used in blue (rated RRRR);
  • with a small superscript T of 'ST" and diameter 28.5 mm used in violet on4 November 1914 (rated RRRR).


Hobsons Bay Railway Station
(cnr Swanston & Flinders Streets).

This Branch Telegraph Office was fitted up and opened in April 1879.

Law Courts.

Built in 1878 at the corner of Lonsdale and William Street. The building was renamed the Supreme Court.


Law Courts

Two types of date stamps were used in relation to telegraphs:

  1. a 2 hole Belt & Buckle date stamp.

Used in black: 1891 to 6 April 1894.

Size: 28 × 41 mm (e = 0.73).

Rated: RRR.

Number in the Census: 2.

15 March 1892.

6 April 1894 (latest recorded date).
One of three covers with a Belt & Buckle sent to an overseas destination - see also Horsham and Market Street below.
  1. a rubber oval TELEGRAPH OFFICE date stamp (RO2-TO) was used in violet:

Size: 32 × 50 mm (e = 0.77).

Used: 14 August 1975 (only recorded date).

Rated: RR.

Number in the Census: 2.

Law Courts
14 August 1975.
Market Street.

The Telegraph Office opened in August 1872.

A one hole Belt & Buckle date stamp was used in black with telegraphs and with ordinary mail:

Use: 24 July 1888 to 20 June 1894.

Size: 27 × 39 mm (e = 0.72).

Rated: RR.


Market Street
20 June 1894.
Used on 6d Stamp Statute on piece.

Provenance: Hugh Freeman.

Mar 12 regd cover
12 March 1894 on a registered cover to England.
Prestige Philately, October 2010, Lot 337.

One of three covers with a Belt & Buckle sent to an overseas destination - see also Horsham and Law Courts above.

Parliament House.

"In the Legislative Assembly of 20 March 1862, Mr. B. G. Davies asked the Hon. the Postmaster-General what would be the cost of extending a branch of the telegraph office to the Parliament Houses if the Government deemed such extension desirable, and if they contemplated doing so?

Dr. Evans said the matter had been considered, and such an extension had been deemed by himself and colleagues to be most desirable. He had ascertained that the actual cost would be between £300 and £400; and if Parliament would provide that amount and the salaries of the necessary officials and also appropriate several rooms in the Parliamentary buildings, the branch telegraph office desired could be erected within three weeks".

The Argus, 21 March 1862.

Public Offices (Spring Gardens).


The Office was issued with a one hole Belt & Buckle date stamp.

Used: 12 September 1890.


Rated: RRRR.

Number in the Census: 1.

12 September 1890.
The Rialto.

"The Rialto" was opened in 1891 as a Receiving Office with telegraph facilities.

The name changed to "Rialto" in 1902 and was again renamed - as King Street - on 19 November 1965.

Three formats of TELEGRAPH or TO date stamps were used at the Office:

  1. Telegraph Office/


  • a two line date;
  • 2 digits for the year;
  • a dot before RIALTO and a 1 mm side arc following. Both are level with the center of the letters.

Used: 4 March 1892 to
2 November 1914.

Diameter: 24 mm.

Rated: common;

Number in the Census: 50+

Rialto 1894
1 August 1894.

Rialto Dec 1894
10 December 1894.

Rialto side arcs
23 September 1902.
Rialto 1913
15 April 1913.
Rialto 1914
2 November 1914.

Rialto 1908
14 January 1908.

  1. Telegraph Office Rialto/

Characteristic: a one line date.

Used: 31 March 1919 to 22 March 1920.

Diameter: 29 mm.

Rated: common.

March 1919
31 March 1919.
Vic 1919
18 April 1919.
  1. T.O. Rialto/


  • a one line date;
  • 3 mm side arcs.

Used: 1 July 1943.

Diameter: 30 mm.

Rated: RRR.

Number in the Census: 3.


Rialto blk 6
1 July 1943.
Spencer Street Station.

The Station was opened in 1859. The Telegraph Office opened in October 1861 while the Post Office opened about 1886. The offices were closed on 31 August 1977.

The first recorded date stamp was inscribed Spencer Street RS/

It has a two line date with a two digit year.

There are filled dots near the outside ring.

Used: 3 October 1904.

Diameter: 27 mm.

Spencer 1904
3 October 1904.


The first of three formats for a Telegraph Office date stamp was inscribed
Spencer Street Tel(egraph) Of(fi)ce/ V.R.:

  1. Spencer St. Tel. Of(fi)ce / VR.

    1 mm arcs centered around V.R. near the circumference.

Used: 20 June 1906.

Diameter: 33 mm.

Rated: RR.

Spencer 1906
20 June 1906.

Used on VI-DO-1D.

  1. Spencer St. Tel. Office./VR.

    2 mm arcs centered around the letters V.R.

Used: 26 November 1954 to
8 September 1956.

Diameter: 29 mm.

Rated: RRR.

No. in the Census: 2.


26 Novwmber 1954.
Used on AW-TO-10.

8 September 1956.
Cancelling 3½d King George VI punctured VG.

  1. Spencer St. Tel. Office./VR.

    1 mm arcs centered around the letters V.R.

Used: 24 October 1966
to 9 January 1968.

Diameter: 33 mm.

Rated: RRR.

No. in the Census: 3.

9 January 1968.
Cancelling 40c Tasman punctured VG
on a piece of a telegram form.

9 January 1968 (latest recorded date).
Cancelling 30c Ibis and 9c Hermit Crab
(both punctured VG) on piece of telegram form.
24 October 1966.
Used on Railways Telegram Form below.

Railways Telegram cancelled with the previous Spencer Street date stamp on 24 October 1966.

The Sydney Morning Herald of 30 December 1899 reported that:

"The underground pneumatic service, by which telegrams are transmitted from the Stock Exchange to the Central Telegraph Office, has proved so successful that the Postmaster-General has authorised the extension of the system to the Rialto Telegraph Office in Collins Street and to the Spencer Street Railway Station office. At present a large volume of telegraphic business is transacted at both these places".

Stock Exchange.

The Exchange Telegraph Office was opened in December 1880.

The Stock Exchange Telegraph Office was created when the Exchange was renamed about 1893. In 1901, the office became a Receiving Office and then (in June) a Post Office. It reverted to its original status as a Telegraph Office on 1 September 1925.

The office was closed on 11 October 1968.

Stock Exchange
A 2 hole Belt & Buckle date stamp was issued to the Office:

Used in black: 10 December 1895 to 6 May 1909.
It is the only Belt & Buckle date stamp recorded to have been used after Federation.


Rated RR.

SE 1902
18 April 1902.
Stock Sept 04
23 September 1904.
SE Sept 1904
13 October 1904.
The usual postal date stamps were used on telegrams from about the second half of 1909. SE 1909
13 September 1909.

Melbourne at base.
Includes time entry.

Stock 1915
8 June 1915.

VIC at base.
No time entry.