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How Much Do You Know about Jamaica’s First Telephone?

The first telephone in Jamaica was installed in Black River, St. Elizabeth, in 1883, just seven years after Alexander Graham Bell spoke the first words into his invention in 1876. By 1884, there were 50 subscribers to telephone service in Kingston. In 1892, The Jamaica Telephone Company was incorporated in Kingston. Black River was also the first town in Jamaica to get electricity. The development of both the telephone and electricity were prompted by the town’s rapid growth, which was fueled by European demand for the natural blue-black dye obtained from the region’s logwood tree. As early as 1878, Jamaica’s Governor Sir Anthony Musgrave, who took office in 1877, suggested that the telephone “would prove an excellent means of communication between the Fire Brigade Stations’ (Daily Gleaner, March 15, 1878). However, his suggestion was ignored as arrangements had already been put in place to use the telegraph.

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