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The 'Great Eastern' as a cable laying ship

Introduction
Preparing the cable and ship
Laying the Atlantic telegraph cable
Impact of the trans-atlantic telegraph cable
Demise of the 'Great Eastern'
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Impact of the trans-atlantic telegraph cable

Congratulations!

Trinity Bay, Newfoundland: Exterior View of the Telegraph House.
View full size imageThe telegraph House at Trinity Bay, Newfoundland.
Once the telegraph link had been established, Queen Victoria exchanged congratulations with President Andrew Johnson.

The messages took several hours to cross the ocean. But without the cable, a despatch going in one direction alone would have taken up to 12 days by inland telegraph and steamer.

Enormous impact

The Eighth Wonder of the World: The Atlantic Cable
View full size image'The Eighth Wonder of the World': The Atlantic Cable.
The public impact of the Atlantic telegraph was enormous. The event was widely celebrated in images such as this one.

With landlines and submarine cables now connecting cities and trade centres, news and information could be passed almost instantly, where before it had taken weeks.

The pioneers

Torchlight Procession around the World.
View full size imageA 'Torchlight Procession around the World'.
This American print, published to celebrate the laying of the cable, acknowledges the achievements of:

  • Benjamin Franklin, a pioneer in the use of electricity
  • Samuel Morse, whose Morse Code transmitted the first message
  • Cyrus Field, founder of the New York, Newfoundland and London Electric Telegraph Company
  • Captain Hudson of the USS Niagara.

The Niagara had been involved in an unsuccessful attempt at laying a telegraph cable across the Atlantic between 1856 and 1857.

 


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Glossary
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A giant steam ship designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
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Fact fileIsambard Kingdom Brunel
One of the greatest engineers in history
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Get 100% to see an animated London skyline (flash 6 player needed)
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Related Resources
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National Maritime Museum/Royal Observatory GreenwichNew Opportunities Fund 
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