Porthcurno Telegraph Museum, Porthcurno, England
Nerve Center of the Empire
In 1870 a submarine telegraph cable came ashore at Porthcurno in Cornwall, linking Britain to India via Portugal. By relaying between telegraph stations along the route, a message could be sent from London to Bombay in four minutes.
By 1885 there were more than 48,000 kilometers of submarine telegraph cables linking Britain to all parts of its Empire (Figure 63-1). By the start of the Second World War, there were over 560,000 kilometers of submarine cables. At the center of this vast network was the small village of Porthcurno, on the southwestern tip of England.
Figure 63-1. 1903 Map of undersea telegraph cables
During the Second World War, the Porthcurno station needed to be protected. Tunnels were dug into the granite rock, and the entire facility was moved underground. Today, fiber optic cables come ashore at Porthcurno and lead inland to a new connection point at Skewjack. Telegraphy stopped in 1970, but the underground station lives on as the Porthcurno Telegraph ...