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The Laying of the Atlantic Telegraph Cable

The Illustrated London News, vol. 47, no. 1327, p. 107.

August 5, 1865


In the Supplement to this Number,...we have given an account of all the operations connected with it till the afternoon of Sunday, the 23rd ult., when the Great Eastern, having joined the main length to the shore-end of the cable, twenty or thirty miles from the Irish coast, started on her voyage across the Atlantic. Next day, as we mentioned in our last week's Paper, a telegraphic message was received from the Great Eastern, then lying to, in lat. 52, long. 10, about eighty miles from shore, to say that some defect had been found in the insulation of the telegraphic wire. This mischief was supposed to exist about two or three miles west of the shore-end of the splice, and it was believed to be caused by the Great Eastern pulling on her end of the cable with too much strain before the shore-end splice was properly completed. The time at which this message was sent from the Great Eastern was half-past four on the Monday afternoon. There was no apprehension expressed regarding the complete and immediate repair of the damage, and the signals to the telegraph-house at Valencia continued very distinct. The Hawk was sent out that evening to go to the Great Eastern and see what was the matter, while the Caroline was made ready to pick up the splice, if needful, and repair the fault. Next day a telegram from Mr. Glass, at Valencia, announced that "the cable was all right; there had been a hitch, but all was now right." The Great Eastern, being in lat. 52, long. 12, telegraphed on that day (Tuesday, the 25th) that "a small fault had been discovered and cut out; she was now paying out again, and the signalling was perfect; the weather very fine." The nature of the accident was further explained next day when the Hawk had returned to Valencia. In cutting off the loose ends of the twisted iron wires, which form the external covering of the cable, a tiny shred of such wire had been allowed to adhere to the composition which surrounds the central electric wire at the core of the cable, and having come in contact with the latter, had partially destroyed its insulation. This piece of the cable, however, being submerged at a depth of not more than two miles, could be raised again without much difficulty, and, the faulty part having been cut out, a fresh splice could be made. On the Wednesday morning the managing director at Valencia made the following announcement:--

The Great Eastern telegraphs that the distance run at 9.50 a.m. to-day was 150 miles (nautical). The length of cable paid out at 6.50 a.m. was 150 miles (nautical). The signals are perfect. Weather very fine.

At half-past seven on the same (Wednesday) evening, he again reported, "All well. Two hundred miles of cable were paid out from the Great Eastern at 3 p.m. to-day. All well."

The following despatches have since been published, from Thursday week to last Thursday:--

Valencia, Thursday Morning (July 27).--The Great Eastern telegraphs that 300 miles were paid out at 5.50 a.m. to-day, and that 300 miles were 9.50 a.m. All is going well. The signals are perfect.

Valencia, Thursday Afternoon (July 27).--Three hundred and fifty nautical miles of cable were paid out from the Great Eastern at 12.50. [sic] p.m. to-day, and 350 miles were run at 4.50 p.m. Greenwich time. All well.

On Board The Great Eastern, Friday Morning (July 28).--Five hundred nautical miles of cable were paid out at 10.50 a.m. to-day. The distance run at 9.50 a.m., was 450 miles. The signals are perfect, Weather fine.

Friday Afternoon (July 28).--550 nautical miles of cable paid out at 4.50 p.m. to-day. All right.

On Board The Great Eastern, Saturday (July 29) 10.45 am.--650 miles of cable were paid out at 6.50 a.m. to-day. The distance run, at 8.50 a.m., was 600 miles. The signals are perfect.

Valencia, Saturday (July 29).--Accident to cable. Cause unknown. Total loss of insulation. No information from, or communication with, Great Eastern. 700 miles payed out at 1.50 p.m. today.

Valencia. Sunday--All is going on well. The fault was removed at 1.50 p.m. The insulation is perfect.

On Board The Great Eastern, Sunday, 4.15 a.m.--700 miles paid out. 650 miles run by Great Eastern. Continuity perfect. Insulation perfect. All going on well.

On Board the Great Eastern. Monday Afternoon.--900 miles paid out at 1.50 p.m. to-day. 750 miles run by Great Eastern at 7.50 a.m. All going on well.

On Board The Great Eastern, Tuesday Morning.--1050 miles paid out at 10.50 a.m. 900 miles run by Great Eastern at 9.50 a.m. All going on well.

On Board The Great Eastern, Wednesday Morning.--1200 miles paid out at 7.50 am. 1050 miles run by Great Eastern at 6.50 a.m. All going on well.

Valencia. Wednesday, 8 p.m.--The signals from the Great Eastern became unintelligible at noon to-day. No communication has been had with the ship since, and no information has been received. Cause unknown.

Valencia, Thursday, 11.30 a.m.--No information received from ship. Cause unknown. No communication with ship.

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