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From New York to London via Abermawr: the 1866 Atlantic Telegraph Cable

Event organised by ICE

08 October 2020

This event has now ended

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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.

For more information please contact:

Felicity White