PK Cable Map 1880's

PK Cable Map 1880's

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Eastern Telegraph Company in Scottish archive.

I came across this archive reference whilst searching for other material. If I remember correctly Eastern Telegraph and its activities in relation to China was the subject of on-going research  at PK ?
I hope that it might be useful to someone.


Repository Code
National Library of Scotland ( Edinburgh)
Black-covered loose-leaf note-book, containing entries in English and Chinese, commencing October 1913
Access Status
Note-book for 1909 bearing donor's name (P. O'Brien Twigg) on front cover.
Indexed note-book issued by The Shanghai Union Brewery.
Almanac for 1907 issued by The Standard Life Assurance Company.
Red-covered memo-book for 1902 issued by The Eastern Telegraph Company.
Red-covered memo-book for 1903 issued by The Eastern Telegraph Company.
Red-covered memo-book for 1908 issued by The Eastern Telegraph Company.
Black-covered notebook containing notes in pencil in English and Chinese.
Blue-covered notebook containing notes in Chinese, and notes on the Chinese theatre.
Blue-covered notebook containing notes on last three leaves only.
Red-covered cash-book containing notes on first 14 leaves and last three leaves. (1 leaf also loosely enclosed).
Blue-covered notebook containing notes commencing with references to the American Historical Review.
Two indexed notebooks containing entries in Chinese (in pencil) and English (in ink) respectively.
Four bundles of index cards.
Bundle of four notebooks containing notes and references in English and Chinese.
Two black-covered notebooks with clasps containing diary entries.
Black-covered notebook containing notes on various subjects including Christianity in China.
Black-covered notebook containing notes on various subjects including contacts between China and the West.
Bundle of four black-covered note-books (one lacking the covers) containing notes on various subjects.
Notebook containing notes and references in English and Chinese (and press-cuttings loosely enclosed).
Green-covered indexed notebook entitled 'Where is it'?
Black-covered notebook containing notes in English and Chinese.
Bundle of: two black-covered notebooks containing notes in Chinese and titles of (English) books respectively, and three worm-eaten red-covered notebooks containing notes on Law (Roman and other).

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Our Photograph Shows...

Agatha, the Officers' "nautical" method of summoning stewards to the dining saloon. C.S. Mirror.

Friday, 2 March 2012

PK Defence Precautions

Another PRO: Just one of the defence precautions established at Porthcurno in the event of a German invasion.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Ascension Island

These pictures come from an aerial survey undertaken by the United States of Ascension Island, completed in 1945/6. It details the changes that took place on the Island during the War - notably the defence positions and the airstrip at Wideawake Field, which was a vital link in the supply of aircraft from America during the War. Ascension was the central point in the South Atlantic Ferry Route.

(CO 968/105/1)

Tunnels for Cable and Wireless... and for Western Union?

(FO 371/28654)
Another snippet from the PRO. Where Cable and Wireless had the tunnels at Porthcurno, Western Union - who also landed cables in Cornwall - had a largely unprotected office at the top of Alexandra Road in Penzance (now flats - boo, hiss). Whether or not this protected underground 'reserve' cable station was built is something I'll follow up...

Strategic Cables

(HW 14/07)
I found this diagram of the strategic cable network from the Second World War in the PRO; it was prepared in 1943/44 by Bletchley Park (MI5, MI6, Inter-Services Research Bureau... who knows?), but it does highlight just how many important cables were 'C+W'.

Thursday, 19 January 2012


Archive material relating to William Thomson ( Lord Kelvin) is located in several places in the UK as mentioned in an earlier blog. The significance of one document held in the Porthcurno  Alcatel Archive ( Document Reference 74/1) only became clear to me as I was working on a paper about the relationship between Thomson and Wildman Whitehouse during their time together working on the Atlantic telegraph cable 1857/8. 

 I believe this document to be the ‘long report’ referred to by S P Thompson 1876, 2nd Edition Vol 1. p369: ‘The Life of Lord Kelvin’ where he mentions that Thomson was ‘disposed to defend Whitehouse telegraphing twice and dispatching a long report’. I have been unable to find any references to this report being cited previously and it may well have been suppressed by the Board of the ATC.

How it came to be among the Alcatel ( Enderbys wharf ) papers I cannot say but it does set out very clearly that in many respects Thomson remained a strong supporter of Whitehouse and sought to defend him against the rest of the Board.

Transcript of the manuscript letter from William Thomson in Valencia addressed to the Board of the Atlantic Telegraph Company and dated August 21st 1858

Gentlemen, Immediately on my arrival here at 9 o’clock this morning I proceeded to the Telegraph Station and took all the means afforded by the signal book and the evidence of the operators on duty, to learn the true state of affairs. This I found as you were appraised by my telegram much more satisfactory than we expected. What surprised me, and entirely altered the conclusion I had formed in London from seeing the recorded messages was that no relay was used, but that the records had been made by the hands of an observer watching the indications of my own galvanometer. You may remember that on each occasion, when I expressed my conviction that a fault at, or near the home end of the Cable could not account for the failure of the currents to Newfoundland without also preventing any sensible effects from Newfoundland, I stated as the sole ground for this opinion, that the signals were received here by the recording relay through its highly resisting coil. It was natural for me to suppose that the records were made by the recording instrument which I saw in use, for the purpose immediately before I left Valencia, when readable signals had just begun to come, and on that supposition I could come to no other conclusion than I stated. As soon as I found that on the contrary that, they were receiving here on an instrument with only 50 yards instead of two miles or upward of resistive wire I saw that my reasoning must be inverted (?) and that it might well be that strong currents from the other side would enter and pass through the Valencia receiving instrument, with a sufficiently bad fault in the cable close to the end to exhaust the outward current to a very low degree. Thus if the resistance in the induction coils or battery is equal to 90 miles of line, and that of the receiving galvanometer only 6 miles, a fault close to the home end equivalent to an “earth” through a resistance of 15 miles would only reduce the received current to 5/7 of what it would be with perfect insulation; but the same fault would reduce the currents transmitted from the Valencia battery to 1/8 part of what they would be, and would enfeeble the effects received in Newfoundland in exactly the same proportion. With the actual arrangements here, of which we in London were not cognizant, it was therefore right to look for the cause of the weakness of currents complained of on the other side in the manner in which Mr Whitehouse did look for it. I think in the vexation of hearing of the cable being under-run, we were all too hasty in coming to the conclusion that a mistake had been committed. When I telegraphed to you that I should send you good reasons by post for re-considering Tuesday’s decision I had seen enough to convince me that it was the want of the peculiar arrangements for receiving which Mr Whitehouse had carried into practice during my absence, that made the reading of the signals so uncertain in Newfoundland, while on this side, all that came were read with ease. I accordingly sent a message to Mr de Sauty, ordering that my land galvanometer should be immediately prepared and put into circuit. During the whole day I tried by repetitions of this message, to have its meaning made known. It was sent time after time with no other reply than “repeat”, or “your signals are unreadable” until at last by working very slowly and giving various clauses over and over again, the operators succeeded in conveying my order to the other side. Immediately after that we got the message “land galvanometer in circuit, signals beautiful” We next had “send faster”, “send faster” several times, and until we tried them with about as high a speed as we can read at here, we had “understand” in reply to what we sent. I have thus ascertained that all they had to do to remove the difficulty they felt in reading our messages was, to receive in the same way as Mr Whitehouse and I had arranged at this end for receiving theirs. I mention this at present, not because of the gratification I feel that my own instrument should have been the first on each side by which Transatlantic messages have been read with continuous accuracy; but because I think it only an act of justice to Mr Whitehouse, to remove the erroneous impression that it was to superior skill on the other side that the successful conveyance of messages in one direction were due. I said to some of your number that it might turn out to be on the contrary a want of skill there that prevented the reading of our messages, but with no facts adduced, my conjecture had but little weight. Now I believe, if the truth as to facts in each of the cases to which I have alluded had been known to members of the Board on Tuesday, they would have taken quite a different view of the whole subject, and would have come to no such conclusion as that which I now think unfortunately was allowed to pass. I still think the manner in which Mr Whitehouse acted with reference to Mr France’s visit was not at all right. But that it constituted such a positive breach of orders as to justify his summary dismission (sic) from office, cannot I think be maintained in so far as I know it was no by a Resolution of the Board that Mr France was requested to come here. I hope in the whole management of our affairs that an improved system may be adopted by which much smoother and more efficient action may be secured. In the meantime when a great result has been achieved, and when one of our most devoted officers, conducting his own proper business in a thoroughly sufficient and successful manner under the most harassing circumstances that can be conceived, falls into some errors of judgement, as regards the responsibility of his office, and the authority he is bound to obey, it would be a very ungracious act on our part to carry into execution so severe a judgement as that which was adopted last Tuesday under circumstances of considerable irritation. For my own part I must now altogether withdraw the consent I most reluctantly gave, and I do so as an act to which I am compelled by a sense of justice. Two out of the three points of the case then before us are now disproved and a reconsideration of the case is in my opinion necessary. I may suggest that a Committee should be appointed to enquire into the circumstances which have been before us, and that their report should be submitted either to the next General Board Meeting or to a Special Meeting summoned for the purpose of receiving it, and that in the meantime Mr Whitehouse be requested to cooperate with me in carrying out the business of the electrical department. I remain Gentlemen,
 Yours faithfully, (Sgd) William Thomson .

19th January 2012