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The expression; ‘annihilating both time and space’, came to prominence with railway travel, but was one truly expressed with the electric telegraph of which the longest electric telegraph route of the mid-Victorian era was the Atlantic Telegraph Cable.
Despite setbacks, an electric telegraph line of overhead wires and underwater cables, crossing over land and under seas and the Atlantic Ocean, from New York to London and points in between and beyond was successfully achieved in 1866. Selected, but not realised, as the port of the broad gauge South Wales Railway (SWR) by Isambard Kingdom Brunel the Pembrokeshire bay of Abermawr was ideal for the 1862 submarine telegraph cable from Ireland. Brunel’s PSS Great Eastern had many connections with south Wales and Pembrokeshire and was adapted to complete lay the cable from Valentia in Ireland to Heart's Content in Trinity Bay, Newfoundland.
The cable’s core was a copper conductor, and south Wales’ prominence in copper smelting played an important role. The presentation looks at the successful attempt of 1866 and how it was accomplished; by improved technologies and operating practices, the adaptation of the largest ship in the world and how an alternative sub-route added to the Welsh connection in this achievement.
Wales Member ICE Panel for Historical Engineering Works
Chief Executive of the South Wales Institute of Engineers Educational Trust (SWIEET)
Trustee Friends of Union Chain Bridge
Born in Cardiff Stephen’s professional experience was in industrial development and economic regeneration, latterly at the Welsh Development Agency (WDA). Seconded to the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE Wales Cymru), he is a Companion member and works for SWIEET and as an independent researcher. He is the editor of Welsh Achievements in Science, Technology and Engineering, a Visiting Research Fellow at Bath University and Newcomen Society member.
Engineering history, particularly the work of Brunel, has long been an interest and saw his final volume of the Brunel in South Wales trilogy published in 2009. Exhibitions include Web of Iron and recent publications include chapters in Samuel Brown and Union Chain Bridge (2017), The Engineering Revolution: How the modern world has been transformed by technology (2019) and Spanning the Centuries (2020).
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