Making a connection - the Museum of Global Communications


Making a connection - the Museum of Global Communications

From 1870, the small Cornish seaside village of Porthcurno - just south of Land's End - became a hub of the British telecommunications industry. PK Porthcurno, The Museum of Global Communications, celebrates this history.

In June 1870, the Falmouth, Gibraltar & Malta Telegraph Company of John Pender landed the final section of the first Great Britain-India submarine cable in Porthcurno. The cable section between Carcavelos and Porthcurno was laid by the Hibernia, with the shore-end being laid by the Anchor Line ship Investigator. On 23rd June, the first message was sent from Bombay to Pender’s house on Arlington Street, London, where he was holding a party attended by the Prince of Wales, the futureEdward VII. Next day, the line opened to public traffic.

Porthcurno's unlikely role as the nerve centre of British international communications had begun.

In the years following undersea telegraph cables made landfall here from all over the British empire and from across the Atlantic. What became the world’s largest submarine telegraph station was founded at Porthcurno, initially with a staff of 16 young men.

At the outbreak of World War II, the existing surface installations were thought to be far too vulnerable to attack, and in 1941, miners were employed to cut tunnels into the solid granite of the valley's hillside to house the telegraphy equipment.

Porthcurno telegraphy facility closed in 1970, 100 years after it first began its operations. The museum, which opened in May 1998, is housed in the former telegraph facility.

The Museum's collection covers the history of international communications, from the laying of the first undersea telegraph cables in the late 1800s to the modern-day fibre-optics and high-speed internet that we know today. Visitors can explore World War II tunnels and experience the sights and sounds of a working telegraph station.

Further reading

PK Porthcurno website

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