Section of the first Atlantic Cable

Contributed by Jacy Wall

Section of the first Atlantic Cable

Part of the first cable to be laid across the Atlantic ocean by the Great Eastern in 1866. Although acknowledged at the time as an extraordinary achievement in the advance in world communications, no one then could have predicted just how far-reaching that first step was to be. This object is of particular significance to me as it has been in my family since 1866; my great-grandfather, Henry Clifford, was Chief Engineer to the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Co.,and on board the Great Eastern during its abortive attempt to lay the cable in 1865 and the successful one in 1866.I have always loved the look of Henry,in photographs he has a full head of white hair and wonderful walrus moustaches.He was also a fine painter,3 of his paintings of the Great Eastern are in the National Maritime museum,and I have two small oils by him.My mother said he would rather have been an artist than an engineer, which is rather sad, but ironic given his important place in history. I am the last of his direct descendants, and certainly do not carry his engineering genes, but rather romantically hope it is of some comfort to him that his great grand-daughter is a professional artist.

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