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The history of cables in Weston-super-Mare

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Cables to Weston were laid in 1885, 1901, 1910 and 1923[map]. The first and last agree well with major transatlantic cable laying projects by the company but the other two appear to represent network expansion rather than being directly linked to other Atlantic cables being laid to Waterville.  North Somerset Museum 2003
Click here to see more pictures of Weston at about the time the cables were landed.
The first cable was laid by the steamship Faraday.
The second cable was laid by the ship Silvertown and was "covered throughout its entire length with brass tape". (There is no electrical significance to the brass tape: John Packer of the Porchcurno Museum of Submarine Telegraphy says that it was used to combat failures caused by the teredo worm (Teredo navalis ) eating the Gutta Percha.)
The cables operated until 1962 when the Commercial Cable Company seem to have shut down all their telegraphic cable activity. CCC continued in business (as part of ITT) and they were consulted by Trinity House when the cable Marker beacon at Weston was damaged in 1968 indicating that the beacon should be destroyed, not repaired.
The fourth cable was laid in August 1923 from Weston to Waterville by the John W Mackay, a new ship built for the company that stayed in service until the 1977. Cable had been laid from the office earlier to a point just below the sea wall and the new cable was spliced on at that point and the ship set off for Waterville.
The Weston Mercury reported that this last cable cost 2 M (presumably the whole route to Nova Scotia.). It was a cable of "entirely new design ... 3.5 inches in diameter at the shore end" and "weighing 20 tons per mile". (Bellamy states that it had 1100 pounds of copper per nautical mile which is consistent.)
Mr E S Stradley the Chairman of the urban District Council sent the first message to Clarence H Mackay, the President of the company in New York.  North Somerset Museum 2003
The cables were protected by armed guards during both World Wars. (So was the cable station at Hazel Hill, Nova Scotia - at least in the First World War - and the story of military involvement and intrigue at Waterville during the wars is complex. [de Gogan])



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© John Crellin 2009