History of wireless telegraphy and broadcasting in Australia/Topical/Biographies/Peter Robert Challen/Notes

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Peter Robert Challen - Transcriptions and notes[edit | edit source]

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Challen offers a reward for missing mail carrier (Telegraph Office, Buninyong, 10 km south of Ballarat)

£2 REWARD.— Mysterious Disappearance of Thomas Ryan, the Boy who carried the mails to and from Buninyong, Whim Holes, and Hardie's Hills. He is 12 years of age, fair complexion. Was dressed in a suit of shepherd's plaid and black cloth cap with French peak. He was last seen at Whim Holes on the morning of 18th inst. Any person giving information that will lead to his recovery, or bringing him to either of the undersigned will receive the above reward. Thomas Webb, Mail Contractor, Buninyong Railway Station, or P. R. Challen, Telegraph office, Buninyong.[1]

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Challen appointed as Telegraph Officer at Cape Schanck with General Post Office from 1 Oct 1869

TELEGRAPH OFFICER. THE Govenor in council has been pleased to sanction the undermentioned appointment, viz.:- P. R. CHALLEN to be Officer in charge of Electric Telegraph and Collector of Imposts at Cape Schanck, from the 1st October, 1869, vice G. Day transferred. JOHN A. MacPHERSON, Chief Secretary. General Post Office, Melbourne, 4th November, 1869.[2]

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Challen transferred from his position as manager of electric telegraph and collector of imposts at Cape Schanck, replaced by a lady

The following appointments are gazetted:— Messrs Clement Hodgkinson, C.E., Charles Rowand, C.E., Clement Wilks, C.E., and William C. Kernot, M.A., C.E., to be a Board of Examiners for the examination of surveyors requiring to obtain certificates of compe-tency as surveyors of land and works; Messrs James Anselm Grieve, of Gray Town, during residence at Gray Town, and Arthur George Wade, of Coleraine, during residence at Coleraine, to be commissioners for the Supreme Court of Victoria for taking affidavits within the colony; Sergeant Percival Renon, of the Kyneton troop of V.V. Light Horse, to be lieutenant; Miss Sarah Bowie to be acting manager of electric telegraph and collector of imposts at Cape Schanck vice P. R. Challen, transferred; Mr W. L. Archer to be acting manager of electric telegraph and collector of imposts, also acting postmaster, at Maldon, during the absence on leave of T. Reed; Mr Asher Ellis to be acting manager of electric telegraph and collector of imposts, also acting postmaster, at Buninyong, during the absence on leave of G. A. Firman.[3]

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Challen's marraige notice

MARRIED. Challen — Pearson — On the 16th July, by special license, at Christ Church, Geelong, by the Rev. George Goodman, Peter Robert, eldest son of the late Charles Challen, to Florence, only daughter of the late William Sharp Pearson, stationer, Sydney, New South Wales, and niece of Pearson Brothers, Stationers, Bishopgate-street within, London.[4]

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Challen appointed as acting manager Electric Telegraph, Linton's with General Post Office from 25 August 1870

COLLECTORS OF IMPOSTS. POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT. THE Governor in Council has been pleased to sanction the undermentioned arrangements, viz.:- P. R. CHALLEN, to be Acting Manager of Electric Telegraph and Collector of Imposts, also Acting Postmaster at Linton's, from the 25th August 1870, vice J. B. Scurfield relieved. F. W. RACKHAM resumed duty as Manager of Electric Telegraph and Collector of Imposts, also as Postmaster, at Penshurst, on the 6th September 1870. THO. T. A'BECKETT, Commissioner of Trade and Customs. General Post Office, Melbourne, 9th September 1870.[5]

The reason for Challen's Linton appointment above due to embezzlement charge upon his predecessor

POLICE. CITY COURT. Thursday, 15th September. (Before Mr Gaunt, P.M., the Mayor, and Messrs Doane, Lewis, and Dyte, J’s.P.) . . . John Barwise Scurfield was then charged with having at Linton, on 24th August, feloniously embezzled the sum of £55 17s 1d, moneys belonging to the Government of the colony of Victoria. Detective Eason, who conducted the prosecution, intimated that the prisoner had been arrested at Northcote. Thomas Reynolds James, inspector of the postal service, residing at Melbourne, gave evidence showing that he knew the prisoner, and that he had been in the employ of the Government as post and telegraph master at Linton. The Government Gazette, folio 2257, contained the appointment. The rules for the prisoner’s guidance in the discharge of his duties in connection with the money-order branch were put in, as also the prisoner’s receipt for the same. Witness also produced a book of regulations for the guidance of the prisoner as postmaster. The 32nd clause of the amended regulations related to the prisoner’s duties in reference to remitting the money-order moneys. The 82nd clause also had reference to the banking of the same, showing that all surplus money should be forwarded by draft. Witness recollected 8th April last; audited the prisoner’s books at Linton on that day (books produced). The money-order book was then quite correct; wrote a statement to that effect, and the prisoner signed it (statement produced). That was witness’ last visit to the Linton office till 24th August last. The prisoner, in carrying out his orders, had to forward a monthly and also a daily statement to the head of the department. (Monthly receipts from the comptroller to the prisoner from 8th April up to the end of July put in, and all stated by witness to be correct.) On 1st August the prisoner, according to the books, ought to have had in his possession £55 9s 9d, not including postage stamps or telegraph money. The next remittance made by the prisoner was on 6th August, when he remitted £26 7s 3d. The comptroller drew the prisoner’s attention to a remittance not having come in due course, and on 16th August the prisoner replied that the reason he had not sent the remittance was that the local banker was absent, and the money would be remitted on his return. In consequence of the non-remittance of the money promised, witness came to Linton on 24th August. Saw the prisoner in the post-office. Asked him how it was that he had not remitted the money in accordance with the regulations. The prisoner thereupon became very excited, and went into an adjoining room, he soon came out again, and said there was no use concealing the fact, he had taken the post-office money to pay his private debts, and had not been able to replace it. Witness then made an audit and found cash due to the department, £55 17s 1d; everything was correct unless the money-order book. Detective Eason said there was a difficulty in the case, as the department could not part with the books, but the witness would prove the accounts by the money-order slips. (Seventeen slips handed in.) Witness certified to their accuracy. The slips included transactions from 1st to 24th August. Witness produced a daily statement signed by prisoner on 24th August, and charging himself with £56 10s 11d as owing to the department. Detective Eason said that he had a written statement by the prisoner to the postmaster, wherein the offence was admitted. (Statement put in and perused by the magistrate, but not read aloud.) The prisoner admitted that the statement was made by him. Witness said he reported the matter to the department, and handed over the charge of the Linton office to Mr Challen, and left him all the books, documents, and moneys connected therewith. In reply to Detective Eason, the prisoner intimated that he did not wish to put any questions to the witness. Peter Robert Challen gave evidence showing that he was postmaster at Linton. Recollected 25th August; took charge of the office on that day. Knew the book produced marked D. Saw the statement attached to the book; it was made out by Mr. James. The prisoner was in the office at the time. Witness received £13 9s from Mr James in presence of the prisoner. Found no moneys there since. Took charge of everything at the office. Found all the rules and regulations at the office as usual. The books and documents had not since been from under witness' control. Heard Mr James’ evidence, and it was generally correct. The prisoner declined to put any question to this witness. Detective Eason wished to have it put in the depositions that the statement referred to was merely a copy of the statement of the general deficiency. Wm. Edward Frazer, bank accountant at Linton, gave evidence showing that he knew the prisoner as postmaster at Linton; he (the prisoner) kept the public account at the bank (New South Wales). There was no other bank at Linton. (Pass-book between the bank and the prisoner produced by witness.) On 18th July last the prisoner’s account was closed. He on that day paid in moneys, and also took out the balance. He had not since had any dealings with the bank, or made any application to draw any money. In reply to the usual question by the magistrate as to whether the prisoner wished to make any statement, he intimated that he wished to reserve his defence. He was then committed for trial at the next Circuit Court, Ballarat, on 4th October. He applied to be admitted to bail. Detective Eason said he wished to make his worship acquainted with the fact that arsenic was found among the prisoner’s effects. The prisoner, in reply to the magistrate, said that he had got the arsenic through the coach driver. He (the prisoner) had bought sixpence worth for medicine for a dog. The arsenic was obtained from Mr Corinaldi, Smythesdale, and was sent for through the coach driver. The prisoner requested his worship to take into consideration the delicate state of his health in fixing the amount of security, as also the matter as to his having a family. Bail was allowed in two sureties of £100 each.[6]

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The above matter is concluded, Challen's predecessor receiving 6 months without hard labour

CIRCUIT COURT. Thursday, 6th October. (Before His Honor Mr Justice Williams.) The Circuit Court sat at nine o’clock. . . . EMBEZZLEMENT.— John Barwise Scurfield was indicted for that he did on the 24th day of August, whilst employed in the service of the Queen, take into his possession and embezzle the sum of £55 17s 1d. A second count of the indictment charged the prisoner with stealing the abovementioned moneys. The prisoner pleaded not guilty, and was defended by Mr McDermott. Mr Adamson having briefly stated the case, voluminous evidence was produced, from which it appeared that the prisoner was in the position of postmaster and telegraph-master at Linton, and had the control of the money-order office there. He had directions to forward all moneys except those which he absolutely required for the service of the office. On 30th July the balance held by the prisoner was £55 9s 9d, and up to the 24th he issued 17 money-orders, for which he received £45 7s 11d. During the same period he paid four orders to the amount of £17 9s 6d. On 6th August prisoner remitted to the head-office £26 7s 3d. On 24th August the debit in his case was £56 10s 11d, less 13s 10d accounted for. He had been twice directed to make up his debit balance, and on 24th August the inspector of postal establishments, Mr Thomas Reynolds James, visited the Linton branch. Prisoner then admitted that he had taken the money to pay private bills, and was short in his cash. He had endeavored to prevail upon the Government to look over his offence for the sake of his wife and family. Mr McDermott for the defence pointed out that all prisoner’s accounts were correct, and that he had only been guilty of keeping back money. His Honor Mr Justice Molesworth, he pointed out, had given the opinion that the mere keeping back of money for a little time was not strictly embezzlement. His Honor in his summing up of the evidence, considered that the charge of embezzlement might as well be at once struck from the books if the opinion was held that the mere stoppage of money was not embezzlement. The jury retired, and returned into court with a verdict of guilty and a recommendation to mercy. In consequence of good character his Honor passed a sentence of six months' imprisonment in the Ballarat Gaol, without hard labor.[7]

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Challen transferred from Linton Post Office

COLLECTORS OF IMPOSTS. POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT. THE Governor in Council has been pleased to sanction the undermentioned arrangements, viz.:—

  • John Weatherhead, Postmaster, Gaffney's Creek, to be also Acting Manager of Electric Telegraph and Collector of Imposts at that place from the 26 May 1871.
  • Miss Martha McDonagh to be Acting Manager of Electric Telegraph and Collector of Imposts, also Acting Postmistress, at Linton, from 1st June 1871, vice P. R. Challen, transferred.
  • John Dobson, Postmaster, Dandenong, to be also Acting Manager of Electric Telegraph and Collector of Imposts at that place from the 1st June 1871.

Tho. T. A'BECKETT, Commissioner of Trade and Customs, General Post Office, Melbourne, 12th June 1871[8]

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Birth of Challen's first child Robert William Pearson Challen

BIRTHS. CHALLEN.— On the 6th inst., at 11 Palk-street, Emerald-hill, the wife of P. R. Challen of a son — both doing well.[9]

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Death notice for Challen's mother-in-law

DEATH. PANKHURST.— On 18th November, at the residence of her son-in-law, P. R. Challen, Stead-street, Emerald-hill, Elizabeth, relict of the late Joseph Pankhurst, also relict of the late William Sharpe Pearson, stationer, of Sydney, aged forty-four years, after a protracted and painful illness. Home, Sydney and Geelong papers please copy.[10]

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Challen not mentioned in report of establishment of Telegraph Electrical Society of Victoria, but almost certainly a founding member (soon presented a paper to fortnightly meeting)

MELBOURNE. 8th August. (FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.) . . . I called attention recently in your columns to the establishment in the Indian Telegraphic Service of a school of instruction in the higher branches of telegraphy. With the last few days several of the officers of the Victorian Telegraph Department have established a similar society under the name of the Telegraph Electrical Society. Messrs G. Jimbert (sic, Smibert), D. J. McGaurin, D. Mickle, and H. W. Jenvey are the committee of management, and it is proposed to publish the transactions of the society at periodical intervals. The first paper will be read at the Athenaeum, on Wednesday next by Mr Daniel, the subject being, "The Object, the Use, and the Working of the Telegraph Electrical Society."[11]

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First quarterly report of the Telegraph Electrical Society states Challen delivered a paper on "Statical Electricity and the Methods used for producing it"

A Telegraph Electrical Society has been formed by the officers of the Electric Telegraph Department, and from the first quarterly report, just submitted, it appears that the society now numbers 89 members — 38 town and 51 corresponding members. In the inaugural address read by the hon. secretary, Mr. L. S. Daniel, the objects of the society are thus defined — 1. The acquiring of knowledge of the higher branches of telegraphy; 2. The acquiring of knowledge of electrical science in the abstract; 3. The keeping the members informed of the movements and changes that are taking place in the great centres of telegraphy. Members are restricted to officials of the Post and Telegraph department, one reason being that if strangers were admitted, there might possibly be objections raised to their being allowed access to the telegraph operating room, where the practical experiments are sometimes carried on. The meetings of the society are held on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month. During the quarter, papers have been read by Mr. G. Smibert, on "The Theories of Electricity;" by Mr. D. J. McGuaran, on "Duplex Telegraphy;" by Mr. H. W. Jenvey, on "Electrical Resistance," and on "The Adjustment of Morse Instruments;" by Mr. L. S. Daniel, on "Aldini's Bovine Battery;" and by Mr. P. R. Challen, on " Statical Electricity and the methods used for producing it;" several of these subjects being elaborately demonstrated by experiments. A special meeting was held on the 16th September at the Chief Telegraph Office, when Mr. McGuaran showed, on a circuit of 90 miles, the method of working the " duplex" system of telegraphy; messages being sent with perfect facility in contrary directions on the one wire simultaneously.[12]

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Challen attends Telegraph Electrical Society of Victoria and exhibits his "powerful electric machine"

TELEGRAPH ELECTRICAL SOCIETY. A lecture was given last night, at the Athenaeum, by members of the Electric Telegraph department, who have formed themselves into a society for the purpose of studying the science which they are daily engaged in putting to practical use. There was a good attendance, and the hall was fitted up with apparatus used in transmitting messages. A telegraph station was fixed on the platform, another in the gallery, with an intermediate station in the body of the hall. Some very powerful machines were placed on the platform, the best of which belonged to a member of the society. Mr. Turner, Deputy Postmaster-General, opened the proceedings by stating that while so many used the telegraph few knew how the power used was produced and controlled, and to explain this was the object of the lecture. Mr. Daniel, the secretary of the society, then illustrated the nature of electric telegraphy, pointing out that no one knew what electricity was, but it was called a current or fluid. He explained that electricity was produced by a battery, like the one on the platform, containing vessels or cells, in which zinc and platinum were immersed in a solution of acid. Electricity had, he said, the peculiar property, if passed round a bar of iron, of making the iron a magnet, thus producing electromagnetism. The attraction acting on the key or armature produced the clicking noise that formed the telegraphic signal, which, according to its length, constituted the telegraphic alphabet. Insulators were exhibited and explained, and the use of the lightning-arrester, to prevent the ingress of lightning, was shown, Mr. Daniel pointing out that atmospheric electricity had a peculiar power of jumping from one point to another, and so the arrester, consisting of three points, one of which is connected with the telegraph wire, attracts the lightning and carries it into the earth outside the telegraph office. Dynamic electricity, Mr. Daniel said, had not the same tendency to fly off. Several messages were sent by the Morse system to and from various parts of the hall, and were read by sound. The duplex system, Mr. Daniel explained, was the sending of two messages in contrary directions at the same time on the same wire. The Wheatstone machine commonly used in offices was shown, and then Mr. P. R. Challen exhibited his powerful electric machine, with which several interesting experiments were performed. Some torpedo exploders were fired by electricity to show the manner in which they are used in warfare, and to cause explosions in engineering works. Haselmayer's drum trick was to have been explained, but the battery that should have set the internal mechanism in motion refused to give any sign, and so the trick was not performed. The inductorium battery was induced to act at the last moment, and some beautiful experiments by means of the sparks it emitted were exhibited in the darkened hall. The lecture was very interesting, and could not fail to enlighten those present as to the system of working the electric telegraph. Votes of thanks terminated the proceedings.[13]

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Challen demonstrates Edison's "Etheric Force" at a meeting of the Telegraph Electrical Society of Victoria, arguably Australia's earliest example of wireless transmission

ETHERIC FORCE. At the usual monthly meeting of the Telegraph Electrical Society, held at the chief telegraph office on Wednesday evening some experiments were made, highly interesting to students of electricity, on the newly discovered "etheric" force. According to a paper on the subject read by Mr. L. S. Daniel, this force is developed in the core of an electromagnet by the process of magnetisation and demagnetisation, caused by "make and break" contact, by an ordinary telegraph key, of a strong battery passing through the coils of the electromagnet. The force can then be led by a metal wire to any desired point and its presence plainly shown by a spark more or less brilliant. This spark, indeed, is the only indication that has as yet been obtained of the existence of this so called etheric force, and for some years past it has occasionally been noticed by persons experimenting in electricity, but it was not until November last that Mr. T. A. Edison, a well known electrician of New York, was induced to experiment on it, and be found it exhibit such singular properties that he has been led to look upon it as a new electrical force, distinct from known dynamic and static electricity. According to accounts received, this force ignores insulation, and shows not the faintest indication of its presence on the galvanometer or on the electrometer. The wire leading it from the magnet has been taken outside the laboratory, carried along a wet ditch, and on being brought back has emitted its spark as if it had been carefully insulated. A glass rod introduced into the circuit does not act as an obstacle to the passage of the spark. These statements are so opposed to the known action of electricity that some doubt, and even ridicule, was at first cast upon Mr. Edison's alleged discovery, but many students of electricity having investigated it (notably Dr. G. A. Beard, of New York, who has contributed an able paper on the subject to a recent number of the Quarterly Journal of Science), it has been demonstrated that the statements are in the main correct. The experiments made at the Telegraph Electrical Society's meeting on Wednesday evening, and which were conducted by Mr. P. R. Challen, showed conclusively the existence of the so-called force, and sparks were distinctly drawn from the core of an electromagnet to a distant point through a wire, which included in its circuit a glass rod over 18in. in length. A good earth connexion, however, introduced into the circuit effectually stopped the transmission of the spark. Not a trace of any current from the magnet was observable on the galvanometer. It was resolved to continue the investigation of this novelty in electrical phenomena, which, though probably it will be shown to be easily accounted for and of no practical use, may possibly be the means of determining more closely the relation known to exist between dynamic and static electricity.[14]

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Challen elected to committee of management at annual meeting of the Telegraph Electrical Society

The annual meeting of the Telegraph Electrical Society was held last night, at the chief Telegraph-office. The report for the past twelvemonth shows the society to be in a steadily progressive condition. Eighteen meetings were held, at which papers were read — On "Magnetism and Electricity," by Mr. Geo. Smibert on "Wheatstone's Alphabetical Instrument," by Mr. H. Quarry; on "A New Automatic Repeater," by Mr. D. J. McGauran; on the "Morse Instrument," by Mr. L. S. Daniel; on "Local Batteries, " by Mr. S. R. Deverell; on the "Quadruplex System," by Mr. D. J. McGauran; on "Spagnoletti's Electrical Semaphore," by Mr. K. L. Murray; and on "Edison's Newly Discovered Force," by Mr. L. S. Daniel. These papers, with other electrical intelligence, have all been printed and issued to the country members. The election of a committee of management having taken place, resulted in the return of Messrs, Mickle, Smibert, Challen, and Cumming. Mr. L. S. Daniel was unanimously re-elected secretary.[15]

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Challen assists in a lecture on the Moon the Melbourne Catholic Young Men's Society

A lecture on the "Moon" was delivered by Mr. Thos. Harrison to the Melbourne Catholic Young Men's Society in St. Patrick's Hall, on Wednesday evening. He gave illustrations by the sciopticon of the moon under various phases. Mr. P. R. Challen and Mr. Patching assisted. The Rev. D. F. Barry occupied the chair.[16]

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Birth notice for Challen's fifth child Grace who sadly lived only 14 days

Births. . . . CHALLEN.— On the 25th ult., at Edinburgh-cottage, Queen-street, Emerald-hill, the wife of P. R. Challen of a daughter.[17]

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Challen elected to committee of management of Telegraph Electrical Society at its annual meeting

The annual meeting of the Telegraph Electrical Society was held last night at the metropolitan telegraph office. There was a good attendance of members. The society has now entered on its fourth year, and according to the annual report read by the honorary secretary, continues to possess all the elements of vitality. Seven new members were elected during the past year, and pamphlets containing the latest electrical intelligence have been distributed among the members. The financial report showed the society to have a balance in hand of £25. Efforts are being made by some members to produce the latest telegraphic wonder, the telephone; although not yet successful, they are still sanguine of success. The election of officers of the society for the ensuing 12 months resulted in the re-election of Mr. L. S. Daniel as hon. secretary, and of Messrs. P. R. Challen, J. D. Doyle, H. W. Jenvey, and G. Smibert as members of the committee of management. A special vote of thanks was given to the hon. secretary for his labours during the past year.[18]

As previous, a little more detail about issues with accommodation

The Melbourne Telegraph Electrical Society held its fourth annual general meeting last night at the Elizabeth-street Telegraph Office. The preliminary business consisted of the election of office-bearers, and Mr. L. S. Daniel was unanimously re-elected to fill the joint office of honorary secretary and treasurer. Messrs. P. R. Challen, J. D. Doyle, H. W. Jenvey and Geo. Smibert were chosen to form the committee of management for the ensuing year. Financially speaking, the society is still successful, but its operations have for some time been restricted for want of a suitable room, fitted with galvanic batteries and other scientific appliances, in which experiments could be conducted. It is, however, hoped that the Government will provide the necessary accommodation, so that the officers of the Victorian telegraph service may keep pace with the rapid progress now being made in the science of telegraphy.[19]

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Challen the key player in early telephony experiments by Victoria Posts and Telegraphs, Henry Sutton in the wings

THE TELEPHONE. Very interesting and successful experiments with the last great revelation of science, the telephone, were made on Sunday at the Ballarat and Melbourne telegraph offices simultaneously. Sunday was selected as the day for experiment, not that the gentlemen operating have not due respect for the fourth commandment, but because on that day only the telegraph lines are not used, and the work of important scientific trial of a great discovery can be carried on without interruption. At the Melbourne office Mr James and a few other gentlemen attended at 11 a.m., the time agreed upon, while Messrs Bechervaise, Challen, Blandford, Macaw, Whitelaw, with a few gentlemen specially invited, and the representatives of the Press, occupied the Ballarat office. Mr P. R. Challen, a clever electrician employed at the Melbourne office, and a member of the Torpedo Corps, is, we are informed, the gentleman, who constructed the first telephones ever seen in Victoria, from some of which results completely satisfactory have been obtained. He obtained his idea of the instrument from the description of Professor Bell’s given by the Scientific American, though he never anticipated obtaining the results detailed by some American papers. Mr. Challen’s telephone is constructed thus:— A magnetised steel bar about 6 inches long forms the core; at one end of this, thin silk-covered copper wire, in quantity proportionate to the resistance of the line, is wound; the core is then enclosed in a wooden case; close to and in front of the coil of wire a very thin plate of iron called the diaphragm is fixed, and the upper part of the wooden case forms a kind of bell or sound concentrator. The ends of the copper wire are connected with the telegraph or connecting wire between the two persons who wish to talk, and each person having a telephone, communication is established. The person speaking holds his telephone to his mouth, letting it touch his chin, and speaks into it in a clear, distinct manner. The sound causes the diaphragm to vibrate, and these slight vibrations so affect the magnetised steel bar that by an electromagnetic effect a current of electricity is created in the encircling coil of wire. Flashing along the line of communication to the second telephone, it passes reversely through the coils, and affecting the magnetism of the bar causes the diaphragm to vibrate and produce sounds similar to those shouted into the sending telephone. The sound itself does not travel, but, by an application of that marvellous agent electricity, is reproduced. In 1861 one Reiss, of Frankfort, constructed a telephone which transmitted musical sounds, and anticipations of it seem to have existed for very many years. Professor Bell brought it to its present pitch, and by experiments such as are now being made all over the world, we may hope to reach in earnest that imaginative account given in jest by an American journal, wherein it was stated that a large audience could sit in a room and listen to a concert given in another room 30 miles away, the sound coming by telephone with as much distinctness as though the audience and the singers were only 30 feet apart. Messrs Bechervaise and Challen acted as conductors of the experiments here, and a lively conversation with the Melbourne operators commenced. On placing the telephone to the ear to listen for the answer, the words came in a faint thin tone, but one so exquisitely clear that the very inflexions of the speaker’s voice could be noticed. "Cooey," from its open, vowel sound, could always be heard, but sibilant and guttural sounds did not always come plainly. At times the answers were wonderfully distinct, every word falling on the ear with refreshing clearness. The voice always, however, seemed to be refined, and, as it were, thinned away until the sounds seemed to come from fairy-like creatures seated in the recesses of the telephone. The voice of Mr Bechervaise was recognised by Mr. James, and friendly greetings were exchanged. The Melbourne men said that it rained, and asked to be cheered with a song. They were regaled with "Hold the fort," the strains of which they did not recognise! Whether this was due to the slips of the singers, or to want of knowledge of religious matters on the part of the hearers, remained an open question. The Melbourne operators then sang ‘"God Save the Queen, taking different parts. The melody came through with the utmost distinctness, the tenor voice sounding remarkably clear. The fairy sounds were so attractive that "Encore" was shouted from this end and the peal of laughter that burst from the lips of those who had been singing was plainly audible here, 100 miles from the vocalists. Conversation followed, and everyone had a chance of hearing for himself the replies from Melbourne. At half past 12, after the most successful experiments yet made, an appointment was made for 3 o’clock, and the parties separated. At 3 a large party, including a few ladies, assembled in the Ballarat office, and experiments made again. A flute was played at the Melbourne end, a telephone being placed on it. At this end the sound resembled "horns of Elf-land faintly blowing," every note coming with a purity and distinctness very pleasing. Communication now began to change for the worse, and frequently words and whole sentences of a speech seemed to be arrested, or to only reach the ear in a series of funny crackles. It was stated that heavy rain was falling, and that disturbing electrical influences were prevalent, so that the second sitting was closed early. Mr Challen will, we believe, remain here, and some more experiments may be made tonight. The success attending the operations here is apparent when we state that from Sydney to East Maitland only "Cooey" would travel, and that from Melbourne to Albury, 190 miles, only an occasional word could be communicated. Here ordinary conversation could be heard, though the telephone had to be held closely to the ear. Challen has substituted for a magnetised piece of steel with soft iron core, as Professor Bell uses, a piece of steel without the iron. Mr H. Sutton, who made a very good pair of telephones on Professor Bell's principle, and who used them on Sunday, found them inferior in power to Mr Challen's.[20]

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Challen, already Postmaster at Heathcote, appointed as receiver and paymaster with General Post Office from 13 September 1881

RECEIVERS AND PAYMASTERS. THE Governor, with the advice of the Executive Council, has been pleased to make the following appointments, viz.:— P. R. CHALLEN, Postmaster at Heathcote, to be also Receiver and Paymaster at that place, vice H. J. T. Tymms transferred; H. J. T. Tymmns, Postmaster at Charlton, to be also Receiver and Paymaster at that place, vice T. Holderness. BRYAN O'LOGHLEN, Treasurer. Treasury, Melbourne, 13th September 1881. [21]

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Challen, already Postmaster at Talbot, appointed as receiver and paymaster with General Post Office from 25 September 1886

RECEIVERS AND PAYMASTERS. M. GLENTON, Postmaster, Heathcote, to be also Receiver and Paymaster at Heathcote, vice P. R. Challen transferred; P. R. Challen, Postmaster, Talbot, to be also Receiver and Paymaster at Talbot, vice H. B. Jones transferred; H. B. Jones, Postmaster, Belfast, to be also Receiver and Paymaster at Belfast, vice J. Thwaites relieved; J. T. R. DALTON to be Acting Receiver and Paymaster at Maryborough, during the absence on leave of W. R. Anderson. D. GILLIES, Treasurer. Treasury, Melbourne, 25th September 1886.[22]

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Challen, already Postmaster at Creswick, appointed as receiver and paymaster with General Post Office from 11 March 1890

RECEIVERS AND PAYMASTERS. HIS Excellency the Governor, with the advice of the Executive Council, has been pleased to appoint A. L. FLINT, Postmaster, Heathcote, to be Acting Receiver and Paymaster and a Collector of Imposts at Heathcote during the absence of H. A. Halliday; S. L. VINCE, Acting Postmaster, Charlton, to be Acting Receiver and Paymaster and a Collector of Imposts at Charlton during the absence, through illness, of E. Mirams; M. GLENTON, Postmaster, Talbot, to be Receiver and Paymaster and a Collector of Imposts at Talbot, vice P.R. Challen; P. R. CHALLEN, Postmaster, Creswick, to be Receiver and Paymaster and a Collector of Imposts at Creswick, vice W. W. Williams transferred. D. GILLIES, Treasurer. The Treasury, Melbourne, 11th March, 1890.[23]

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Challen appointed as Honorary Assistant Inspector of Fisheries

DEPARTMENT OF TRADE AND CUSTOMS. Honorary Assistant Inspectors of Fisheries. HORACE MORGAN MUMFORD, Constable of Police (No. 2623), PETER ROBERT CHALLEN, REGINALD GREENE, CHARLES LINTOTT GREENE, WILLIAM WILSON, THOMAS ROBERT JAMES, and ROBERT HENRY GLEDHILL. To date from commencement of duty in each case.[24]

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Challen one of only two officers (the other Henry Walter Jenvey) authorised to sign certificates of competency in Telegraphy for Victoria


  • 1. Candidates for employment in the Clerical Division will be examined in the following subjects:- Full Mark Value.
    • 1. Handwriting: to be valued for clearness, regularity, simplicity, moderate size, and rapidity ... 200
    • 2. Arithmetic: the First Four Rules (simple and compound), Reduction, Practice, Vulgar, and Decimal Fractions ... 500
    • 3. English: Spelling; to be tested by writing from dictation, and the correction of mis-spelt passages ... 200
    • 4. English: Simple Composition, and the correction of grammatical errors ... 200
    • 5. English: Parsing, Analysis and Derivation of Words ... 300
    • 6. Geography: Outlines of Physical and Political Geography, and the Geography of the Australasian Colonies (particularly Victoria) in moderate detail ... 400
  • 2. Any candidate who fails to obtain half marks for any one of the first four subjects will be rejected. To qualify for appointment, a candidate must obtain at least 1,000 marks in all.
  • 3. Candidates for employment in the Clerical Division in the under-named offices must, prior to registration for examination, comply with the following conditions to the satisfaction of the Board, namely:—
    • (a) Telegraph Operator.— The production of a certificate of competency from the Secretary or an Inspector of the Post and Telegraph Department, or from any officer duly authorized by the Secretary for the Post and Telegraph Department to sign the same; (Refer Note)
    • (b) Compositor.— The production of evidence of having served apprenticeship as a compositor, and a certificate of competency from the Government Printer, the Superintendent, or the Printing Overseer at the Government Printing Office;
    • (c) Assistant in Public Library.— The production of evidence of having passed the Ordinary Matriculation Examination of the University of Melbourne (or some examination which the Board may judge equivalent) in Greek, in Latin, and in French or German;
    • (d) Architectural and Engineering Draughtsman.— The production of a certificate of competency from the Secretary or Inspector-General of the Public Works Department; or in the case of Architectural Draughtsman, from the President of the Victorian Institute of Architects or the President of the Architectural and Engineering Association, Melbourne ; or for Engineering Draughtsman, from W. C. Kernot, Esq., M.A., C.E., Professor of Engineering, Melbourne University, or the President of the Victorian Engineers' Association, the Chairman of the Municipal Engineers' Board, or the Chairman of the Board of Examiners for Engineers of Water Supply;
    • (e) Inspector of Stock.— The production of a certificate of competency from the Chief Inspector or Acting Chief Inspector of Stock;
    • (f) Survey Draughtsman.— The production of a certificate of competency from the Secretary for Lands or Surveyor-General, or Chief Draughtsman of the Lands Department, or from the Secretary for Mines, or from the Chief Engineer for Victorian Water Supply, or from the Chief Draughtsman, Titles Office, Law Department, or from the President of the Victorian Institute of Surveyors.
      • NOTE.— The following officers have been authorized by the Secretary for the Post and Telegraph Department to sign certificates of competency in Telegraphy:- H. W. Jenvey, electrician, and P. R. Challen.[25]
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Challen, already Postmaster at Maryborough, appointed as receiver and paymaster with General Post Office from 23 November 1900

RECEIVERS OF REVENUE AND PAYMASTERS. The persons named hereunder to be Receivers of Revenue and Paymasters at the places respectively mentioned, viz,:-

  • Castlemaine - JAMES D. FINEGAN (Acting Postmaster), Acting, during the absence of A. Wolfe on leave.
  • Daylesford - WALTER VEITCH, vice H. P. Stephen transferred.
  • Maryborough - PETER R. CHALLEN (Postmaster), vice F. Duncan relieved.
  • Tallangatta - MICHAEL F. O'DEA, vice W. Veitch transferred.
  • Tungamah - MARY J. BOXELL (Acting Postmistress), Acting, during the absence of M. J. Guthrie on leave.[26]
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Challen temporarily appointed Returning Officer, Mining Board Elections, Maryborough

DEPARTMENT OF MINES AND WATER SUPPLY. Returning Officer, Mining Board Elections, P. R. CHALLEN to act as Returning Officer for Mining Board Elections in the Maryborough Mining District temporarily vice D. Harkness, relieved.[27]

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Challen, now with PMGD, also appointed by State of Victoria as Receiver of Revenue and Paymaster for Maryborough

DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURER. Receivers of Revenue and Paymasters. The persons named in the subjoined schedule (who are officers of the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia) to be

also Receivers of Revenue and Paymasters for the State of Victoria at the places and from the dates respectively mentioned, that is to say:- Schedule . . .

  • Place - Maryborough
  • Name - P. R. Challen
  • To date from - 1st to 20th March[28]
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