Poczta Polska calls time on the telegram. Stop.

A domestic telegram point at the post office in Warsaw, December 1947. PAP

It may have made the world smaller and revolutionised global communications but anybody wanting to send a telegram in Poland now has only a few days left to send one. Poczta Polska, the national post office, has called time on its public telegram service and will consign it to history at the end of the month.

The decision to axe the telegram, which, through its stress and on brief and sparse text was in many ways the forerunner of the text message, reflects its declining fortunes.

Back in 1985, for example, when the telegram still ruled the communication roost Poles sent over 20 million of the electronic messages. But since then, especially with the advent of modern mobile means of communications, that number has been shredded.

In 2002 when Telekomunikacja Polska, the then telegram provider, handed on the service to Poczta Polska Poles sent only 2.5 million, and that total has been in free fall ever since.

It crashed to 50,000 in 2013, and Justyna Siwek, a spokeswoman for Poczta Polska, said that from January to August this year the post office sent only 1,330 telegrams.

Along with wilting from the competition provided by emails and text messages, the telegram also came at a price. For a 160-character message delivered by courier within eight hours a person would have to pay PLN 27.06. If they wanted the six-hour service, the fee rose to PLN 43.05. 

Although members of the public will no longer be able to send a telegram the service will live on for a bit longer for business clients who have access to the service in their contracts, but only until their contracts terminate.

The end of the line for the telegram, which was announced by a terse twitter message, winds up a means of communications that has made its mark on Polish history. Piłsudski, the founder of the modern Poland, for example, used the telegram on November 16, 1918 to tell the governments of France, the UK, the United Sates and others about “the resumption of Poland’s independence and sovereignty”.