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

1866 South Foreland (England) - La Panne (Belgium) Cable

The Telegraph Construction & Maintenance Company (Telcon) supplied the core for this cable between St Margaret's (South Foreland, Dover), England and La Panne, Belgium, but sub-contracted its manufacture to W.T. Henley's Telegraph Works Co. The system length was 47 nm, and the cable weighed 9.7 tons per mile. The maximum depth on the route was 28 fathoms.

Recovered section of cable with four cores, two 7-strand and two 4-strand

The cable was owned and operated by the Submarine Telegraph Company, founded by the brothers Jacob and John Watkins Brett to lay the Channel cables of 1850 and 1851.

In 1867 it was reported that:

The South Foreland and La Panne, in Belgium, have been united by a line of telegraph which contains four conductors, two of them consisting of recovered portions of the Cromer and Emden cable. The La Panne line is 47 miles in length, and the wire is covered with asphalte and an outer “serving.”


View 1866 La Panne Cable in a larger map

The Cromer-Emden cable had been made and laid in 1858, also for the Submarine Telegraph Company, by Glass Elliot & Co. from core supplied by the Gutta Percha Company. This cable had two conductors, each comprised of four copper wires No 22 BWG covered with gutta percha and Chatterton's compound to No 3 BWG. These may be seen as two of the cores in the cross-section view above, the other two being of the more conventional seven-strand design.

The cable section was recovered by CS Telconia on 2nd January 1926. The tag identifies it as type A2 (shore end), with 10 armouring wires of #1 BWG. The cores are noted as having weights of 104/120 pounds (7-strand) and 60/120 pounds (4-strand) respectively. The numbers are the weights of copper/gutta percha per nautical mile of the core.


Cable section images courtesy of and copyright © 2010 Greg Kellett, by whose kind permission they appear here.

Last revised: 3 March, 2010

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