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History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications
from the first submarine cable of 1850 to the worldwide fiber optic network

La Compagnie Française du Télégraphe de Paris à New York
by Bill Glover

LA COMPAGNIE FRANÇAISE DU TÉLÉGRAPHE DU PARIS À NEW YORK

The takeover of La Société du Câble Transatlantique Française by the Anglo American Telegraph Company left France in the position of having to use foreign cables to transmit telegrams to the USA. To eliminate this problem M. Pouyer-Quertier, a French financier, set up La Compagnie Française du Télégraphe de Paris à New York in 1879 with the intention of connecting France to the USA via the French owned islands of St. Pierre et Miquelon, situated off Newfoundland.

Phonecard commemorating the
1879 French cable and CS Faraday

Siemens Bros. were awarded the contract and CS Faraday (1) commenced laying the 2242 nm long main cable from Brest to St.Pierre in June 1879. From St. Pierre one cable was laid to Cape Cod, a distance of 827 nm, and one from St. Pierre to Louisbourg, Cape Breton Island, a distance of 188 nm. The whole system was handed over to the owners four months later. In 1880 CS Faraday (1) laid a 151 nm cable from Brest to Cornwall, the cable being brought ashore between Porthcurno and Logan's Rock. A second cable laid in 1918 is believed to have landed at the same point. By 1930 both cables had been moved to Porthcurno and the Eastern Telegraph Company undertook the task of relaying telegrams to London.

The company joined the revenue pooling agreement already in operation between the Anglo American and Direct United States companies. Each company received a share of the total revenue in proportion to the amount they paid in.

In 1895 the company merged with La Société Française de Télégraphes Sous-Marin to form La Compagnie Française des Câbles Télégraphiques.

For detailed information on the Cape Cod cable station, see the page on the French Cable Station Museum.

CABLE SHIPS

POUYER-QUERTIER

Built in 1879 by C. Mitchell & Company, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Length 238.2 ft. Breadth 35.9 ft Depth 22.9 ft Gross tonnage 1396

The design of the ship was based on that of CS Faraday (1), incorporating a number of the new features of that ship: twin screws, bow rudder and swivelling bow and stern sheaves. Two cable tanks were fitted, one forward having a capacity of 12850 cubic feet and one aft having a capacity of 8592 cubic feet. Storage was supplied for grapnels, ropes etc. To aid paying out astern from the forward tank a trough was fitted in the port alleyway of the centre castle. The bow and stern sheaves were of a similar design to those in Faraday but were mounted on U-shaped booms which overhung the hull. On each of these booms one 5 foot diameter and one 1½ foot diameter free running sheaves were fitted.

Pouyer-Quertier was initially based at Le Havre on Atlantic maintenance duties. When the company merged with La Société Française de Télégraphes Sous-Marin the ship was transferred to the new company. Moved to the Caribbean when a new vessel CS Contre Amiral Caubet came into service. Scrapped in 1931.

Last revised: 24 January, 2010

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—Bill Burns, publisher and webmaster: Atlantic-Cable.com