Atlantic Cable at Valentia, on the west coast of Ireland. Original antique print of the Atlantic Cable being paid out at Ballylarberg Strand, Ireland, by USS Niagara.
Below is the text of a blog for Reach plc’s ‘In your area’ published to celebrate the a
On this day, 22nd. August 1857, the above image of USS Niagara was published in ‘The Illustrated London News.’
She is seen “Paying out the land end of thhe cable from the stern of the Niagara.”
The ‘cable’ in question being the ‘Atlantic Cable.’
USS Niagara, together with HMS Agamemnon, had been charged by their respective governments with the task of laying a telegraph cable from Ireland to Newfoundland.
The Atlantic Telegraph Company had been planning since 1854 to achieve the provision of telegraphic communication between Europe and North America and 1857 was to see their plans come to fruition.
The cable would stretch across the floor of the Atlantic Ocean from Telegraph Field, Foilhommerum Bay, Valentia Island in western Ireland to Heart’s Content on the eastern coast of Newfoundland.
The time taken for a message between North America and Great Britain was thereby reduced from ten days – the time of a ship’s passage across the Atlantic – to just a few minutes.
The first official communication occurred on August 16, 1858, when a telegram of congratulations was sent by Queen Victoria to the then President of the United States, James Buchanan.
However, jubilation at this achievement was short live, because transmission times became longer and longer and just a month after the launch of the service the cable was destroyed in an attempt to ‘speed up’ transmission times by increasing the voltage employed in sending messages.