Semaphore (seema – sign and phoros – carrying) telegraphic system conveys information through visual signals using towers with shutters. Signals were transferred from one tower to another by means of telescope. The information is encoded.
It was invented in the year 1792 in France just after the French Revolution by Claude Chappe.
The towers were used widely in Europe particularly in countries like United Kingdom, Germany, Russia, Sweden, Denmark, Portugal apart from France and Canada and United States in North America. It went into oblivion in 1880s after the invention of Telegraph.
Semaphore Tower in Barrackpore
Semaphore towers made its way in India by the British in the early part of nineteenth century. The towers resembles like chimney usually about 80 feet in height and are placed at a gap of about eight miles mainly in agricultural fields. The towers are found in West Bengal, Jharkhand and Bihar.
Semaphore Tower near Prabartak Jute Mill off Barrackpore Trunk Road
A Semaphore Tower near Prabartak Jute Mill off B.T. Road is seen which is very much kept intact, though outward plastering was done later and it is a four-storied tower. It is maintained by Public Works Department (PWD), West Bengal. This tower is close to Sukchar Great Trigonometrical Tower (GTS) Tower and lies in the line of another GTS tower at Paikpara.
The towers are called by the locals as girja meaning church in Howrah and Hooghly districts of West Bengal; while in Bankura and Purulia they are termed as mancha.
In West Bengal they are seen in the districts of North 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly, Bankura and Purulia.
- Blog of Rangan Datta.
Date of Posting: 20th January, 2017.