ON THIS DAY - April 25th

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Pigeons Come Home to Roost

During the 1840s, the railway network spread across Europe, bringing in its wake a telegraph system that meant that news could be sent far more quickly than the traditional man-on-horseback.

In 1849 Aachen (usually the first name in any atlas gazetteer) was connected by rail, and therefore telegraph, to Berlin, but there was then a gap to cross to get to the Brussels-Paris line and from there to the rest of France.

This provided an ideal scenario for Julius Reuter, a so-far-unsuccessful entrepreneur, to set up a carrier pigeon service to bridge the gap.

His long-suffering wife, Clementina, would take the pigeons to Brussels to be released carrying their vital news (mainly financial stock market stuff) back to Aachen and so on to Berlin.

The service started on April 25th 1850 and lasted until proper telegraph links were established in October 1850, but by then the Reuters had gathered enough cash to survive until the transatlantic cable between London and the United States was completed (and, to many peoples' surprise, actually worked) and the Reuters News Agency was really in business.

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