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

1860 Sweden - Denmark Cable

Cable images courtesy of Discovery Museum, Tyne and Wear Museums

The Discovery Museum at Tyne and Wear Museums holds this cable under record number 1995.685. It is a short length of 3 core armoured cable on a wooden mount board, which carries a label inscribed "Duppel d 18 April 1864". One of the brass cable band is inscribed: "Fyenshav auf Alsen" and the other: "d 29t Juni 1864"

Cable historian Allan Green's research indicates that this is most likely to be the 1860 Henley's "Great Belt" Danish Government cable.

For comparison, below are two Glass Elliot three-core cables from the Porthcurno Museum of Submarine Telegraphy. The one on the left is similar to the sample at Tyne & Wear Museums, and is inscribed "Sweden-Denmark 1854"; each of its three conductors having a single copper strand. On the right is an unusual three-core cable inscribed "1859 England-Denmark"; its three conductors each have 4-strands.

Three-core cable with single-strand conductors and 10 armouring wires, marked Sweden-Denmark 1854. Manufactured by Glass Elliot/Kuper & Co.

Three-core cable with four-strand conductors and 10 armouring wires, marked England and Denmark 1859.
Manufactured by Glass Elliot

Cable images courtesy of the
Porthcurno Museum of Submarine Telegraphy
and Allan Green

The Berne List confirms that the 1860 Henley's cable had three conductors, and shows it as being laid "from De Hornenaes (ile de Fionie) to Funenschaff ( ile D' Alsen) Allemagne" in 1860 (by the time the Berne List was issued the island was German territory).

Elin Bornemann of the Tyne & Wear Museums gives the following translation of the cable inscriptions:

Alsen (French and German) = Als (Danish)
Fionie (French) = Fuenen (German) = Fyn (Danish)
Fuenenshaff (German) = Fyenshav (Danish)

Fyenshav is a small town on Als and all these places now belong to Denmark.

The cable was 15.04 kilometres (8.107 nautical miles) in length. The Berne List has this cable in the section "Administrations Gouvernementales" and "Denmark", that is to say a Danish National cable as distinct from those owned by "Compagnies Privees", the private telegraph companies.

The List shows the cable status as "Interrompu 1864", i.e. it was cut or at least ceased working in that year. Returning to the inscription on the wooden base mount, Elin Bornemann notes that this must refer to the storming of the "Dueppeler Schanzen" (Dueppel Defences), a landmark victory by the Prussian Army against Denmark in the Schleswig-Holstein wars. Dueppel (Dybbol in Danish) is a village on the Flensborg Fjord. The Prussians held the village until 1920 - perhaps they took the opportunity to cut the cable after their 1864 victory?

Copyright © 2007 FTL Design

Last revised: 30 December, 2007

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