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

Cable Work at Greenwich: Telcon, STC, & Alcatel
John W. "Harry" Stocker

Introduction: These pages present personal aspects of cable-making at Greenwich through the experiences of some of the craftsmen who worked there.

The late John Stocker, known to his workmates as Harry, was initially a cable gang foreman and later a project engineer and senior cable laying specialist at Telcon/SCL/STC, where he worked on many cable projects.

Thanks are due to Mr Stocker's nephew, Graham Brown, for supplying much of the material from Harry's archive, and to Jim Jones (who worked with Harry on many projects at Telcon) for organizing and scanning it.

--Bill Burns

John Stocker, known to his workmates as Harry, was born in 1926 in Aldershot, Hampshire, and spent his first four years in England. The family moved to India in 1930, returning to Hampshire in 1937. After a spell in the Army, he joined the Telegraph Construction & Maintenance Company (Telcon) at Greenwich in 1952.

1953 re-fit of CS Lord Kelvin at Greenwich.
[Bert Rivers, fourth from right, heavy gang supervisor.
Far right, Harry Stocker, steadying cable drum drive.]

Harry Stocker
(furthest from camera)
loading cable at Antwerp

Harry worked for Telcon and its successors for the rest of his career, seeing the company through its changes to Submarine Cables Limited (SCL) and later Standard Telephone and Cable Limited (STC). After attempting retirement in 1986 and 1993, but being called back by the company on both occasions, he finally retired in 1994. He died in September 2007.

Claire ?, Terry Elsdon, Harry Stocker.
Claire was Phil Sykes' secretary.
Photograph taken in the senior manaagers' dining room at
Greenwich, with a photograph of the works in the background.

Harry's handwritten records give details of the many cable projects he worked on, both in England and abroad. He spent much time working overseas on cable shore-end work and cableship outfitting, and notes that he flew 169,868 miles over the years.

Colleagues from Telcon/STC at Harry Stocker's funeral, 2007
Left to right:
Rookie (Electrical Foreman TELCON)
Terry (Marine Engineer STC)
Ron Fox (Marine Engineer TELCON)
Cyril Malyon (Bricklayer TELCON)
Derek (Electrician TELCON)
Jeff Prendergast (Site Maintenance Manager TELCON)
Dennis ( Plumber).

Photograph courtesy of Jim Jones

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Last revised: 26 May, 2016

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Research Material Needed

The Atlantic Cable website is non-commercial, and its mission is to make available on line as much information as possible.

You can help – if you have cable material, old or new, please contact me. Cable samples, instruments, documents, brochures, souvenir books, photographs, family stories, all are valuable to researchers and historians.

If you have any cable-related items that you could photograph, copy, scan, loan, or sell, please email me: [email protected]

—Bill Burns, publisher and webmaster: