The widespread adoption of standard time in Britain took more than fifty years and simple public access to a representation of it took longer still. Whilst the railways and telegraph networks were crucial in the development of standardized time and time-distribution networks, very different contexts existed, from the Victorian period onwards, where time was significant in both its definition and its distribution. The moral drive to regulate and standardize aspects of daily life, from factory work to the sale of liquor, led to time being used as a tool for control. Yet, as a tool, it was problematic, both in its own regulation and in the regulation of its distribution. Companies such as the Standard Time Company, in creating businesses out of time distribution, found themselves at the heart of discussions of time and standards, acting, as they did, as a nexus between the nation's master timekeeper, the Royal Observatory, and London public houses, Lancashire cotton mills and myriad small businesses. We can see this network both literally, in electric wires, clocks, batteries and relays, and metaphorically, transmitting Victorian moral concerns of ‘power’ and ‘intelligence’ between imperial state and individual. Naturally enough, the network itself was as contested as the message it transmitted.