The Great Eastern was to lay the cable in one continuous length between Ireland and Newfoundland. The process began with the newly made cable being carefully coiled into large cylindrical tanks at Greenwich.
The Great Eastern's ornate fittings were taken out and two boilers and a funnel were removed to make room for three huge tanks to hold the coils of cable.
The Amethyst and Iris transferred the cable to the Great Eastern as she lay at a mooring at Sheerness in North Kent. This operation took more than three months. In the picture, one of the old frigates is transferring her load of cable to the Great Eastern.
On 24 May 1865, the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII) visited the works at Greenwich to see the last piece of the new cable being made. He then sailed to Sheerness to visit the Great Eastern.
After lunch, the party watched the work of coiling the cable into the hold. This was a tricky and carefully supervised task, as even the slightest kink could damage the cable's ability to carry a message.
This tricky operation was under the supervision of a brakeman. It was his duty to keep the cable at the correct tension. He had to concentrate closely to operate the machinery efficiently. This picture gives a good view of the machinery.
In the cable tanks the smooth process of paying out the coil was constantly supervised. Technicians kept checking their instruments for the continuity of the electrical signal running through it. Any change in the electrical resistance in the cable meant a fault in the insulation or a break in the copper core.
The European end of the 1865 Atlantic cable was on top of the remote cliffs of Foilhummerum Bay, on the island of Valentia off the west coast of Ireland. That is where it was connected to the existing landline. The American end was at Heart's Content in Newfoundland, Canada.