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

1909 St John’s (Newfoundland) -
Coney Island (New York) Cable

In 1884, Siemens Bros, using CS Faraday (1) laid two cables for the Commercial Cable Company from Dover Bay, Nova Scotia, to Waterville, Ireland. One was continued from Waterville to Weston super Mare; the other from Waterville to Le Havre, France.

In 1905 both cables were diverted into Cuckold(’s) Cove, near St John’s, Newfoundland, by CS Mackay-Bennett.

Landing northern shore end (1884 cable) at Cuckold Cove in 1905
Details of activity: 1,  2,  3

In 1909, as part of a new line from Waterville, Ireland, CS Colonia laid a direct link from St John’s to Coney Island, New York, completing the work on August 2nd.

These photographs from the collection of Bill Holly are of the 1909 Colonia expedition.

CS Colonia off Telegraph Construction & Maintenance Company Works, Greenwich

Colonia in St John’s harbour

Colonia at St John’s

Section of chart of St John’s Harbour showing cables at Cuckold Cove.
Image copyright © George White 2004 and used by courtesy of
John Crellin’s Commercial Cable Company website

Large iceberg grounded near northern cable

Icebergs under Cuckold Head

Coiling 62-ton ice cable from ship to lighter
Detail of activity

Making splice on lighter of Cuckold Cove

Landing northern cable shore end at Cuckold Cove

Lighter in Cuckold Cove,
CS Colonia in distance

Laying shore end of cable to New York

Cable house, Cuckold Cove

Taut wire gear
Detail of gear

Paying out shore end from lighter at New York

Slipping final splice of New York - St John’s cable. 2 Aug 1909.

Cable house, Coney Island (New York)

Detail of Coney Island cable house

Compare the 1909 photographs of the Coney Island cable house
above with Henry Ash's sketches of the same area made in 1889:

November 7, 1889
Cable House, Coney Island, New York left hand Commercial Cable Co.'s (MacKay Bennett) 1884 cable landing place. Right Hand Western Union Telegraph Co.'s (Gould) 1889 cable landing place

Library and Archives Canada - Henry Ash Fonds: e04414161

November 7, 1889
Coney Island New York landing place of the 1889 New York Canso Telegraph Cables

Library and Archives Canada - Henry Ash Fonds: e04414162

In its issue of August 1st 1909, the New York Times reported the arrival of Colonia from St John’s:


Commercial Company Expects to Complete New Line from Ireland.

The new line of the Commercial Cable Company between New York and Ireland will probably be finished to-day, The steamer Colonia, which laid the cable from St. John’s, N. F., yesterday morning took up the end which had been buoyed about 100 miles from the mainland and began preparations for landing it at the east end of Coney Island.

The other cable ship, Cambria, now in New York Harbor, will leave to-day to pick up and mend a cable which now lies broken off Cape Hatteras.

On their way here earlier in the week, both these vessels corrected their chronometers in mid ocean. The time was received by wireless from the Teutonic, and at the office of the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company, with whose apparatus the boats are equipped, it was said that this feat had never been performed before.

Last revised: 29 September, 2011

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