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Archives research guide: submarine telegraphy

A quick guide to some of the sources available at the IET Archives for the study of the history and development of submarine telegraphy. This guide supplements the material listed in the more comprehensive guide on Telegraphy.


  • Papers of Sir Henry Mance relating to the Persian Gulf Telegraph Cable, 1860-1894 - SC MSS 073;
  • The Donovan Collection of lithographed Bulletins from the Great Eastern - 1865-1866 - SC MSS 016;
  • Image Collection - images from onboard the Great Eastern and the Agamemnon - Image 2/3;
  • Papers of Sir William Preece on Submarine Telegraphy, 1854-1908 - NAEST 17;
    The papers comprise Preece's own notes, correspondence and printed material on various aspects of cable-laying and manufacture.  Details are given of tests and experiments carried out on particular types of cables (e.g. /43, /46, /67) and of the condition of several cables already in use (e.g. /55, /65). Also included is a specification for a patent granted to Preece in 1892 for improvements in submarine cables (/88) In addition there are various pamphlets and printed papers, including documents relating to the agreements between the Postmaster General and the Submarine Telegraph Companies, 1878 (/39), a prospectus of the Light Cable Telegraph  Co. Ltd, 1873 (/49) and the directors' report and minutes of the 10th annual  general meeting of the Atlantic Telegraph Company (/4-/5). A number of newspaper cuttings relating to cables and the progress of submarine telegraphy (/70-/84) also form part of the collection;
  • The Telcon Story, 1850-1950 - NAEST 045/193
    A booklet on the history of the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company Ltd;
  • Telegraphy Books, 1854, 1872, 1873, 1884 - NAEST 154
    4 volumes relating to submarine telegraphy; the invention of the electric telegraph; the introduction and control of the telegraph in America; and a guide to telegraphy and postal service duties;
  • Papers of Jacob Brett, 1845-1886 - SC MSS 008
    2 journals of original and facsimile documents and correspondence relating to the England-France submarine telegraph cable, prospectuses of companies formed by Brett in relation to the venture and press cuttings.  Correspondence, prospectuses and reports in relation to other telegraph companies; patents, specification drawings, maps and later correspondence concerning Brett's pension;
  • Transatlantic Cable, 1858, 1865 - SC MSS 012
    Album of mounted coloured prints entitled 'Laying of the first Transatlantic cable' with some pictures drawn aboard 'Great Eastern' in 1865. Pictures show cable at the works at Greenwich, loading the cable onto the Great Eastern, paying out machinery, the landing point, Telegraph House, Trinity Bay, Newfoundland, splicing the cable, searching for faults after retrieving cable from sea bed, grappling to retrieve cable;
  • Sketches made on board HMS Agamemnon by E W Cooke on the Atlantic cable laying voyage, 1858 - SC MSS 023.

Keywords for searching the online catalogue 

Submarine Telegraphy
Submarine Cables
Cable Laying
Cable ships
Atlantic Telegraph Company
Atlantic Ocean
Preece Sir William
Fahie John Joseph
Great Eastern
Brett Jacob & John Watkins

Other Resources in the Library & Archives

Silvanus Thompson Pamphlet Collection
Ronalds Pamphlet Collection
Rare Book Libraries