Made from a revolutionary armoured wire developed by the Birmingham wire-makers Webster and Horsfall (still operating in east Birmingham), this was the first successful communications cable laid across the Atlantic ocean, connecting Europe with America. It represented an equivalent breakthrough to the successful launching of orbiting satellites in the 1950s. There had been previous attempts, but in all cases, the cable failed.
It was a vast operation. Brunelâ??s specially adapted steamship, the SS Great Eastern, laid over 4,000 miles of cable, containing over 30,000 miles of wire, weighing more than 1600 tons between Valentia in the west of Ireland and Heartâ??s Content in Newfoundland. Just assembling the materials, the men and machinery to create the cable was a huge undertaking. It took 250 men 11 months to make, and a whole area of east Birmingham was taken over with the manufacture and storage of this huge amount of wire.
4000 miles of cable containing 30,000 miles of wire took 250 men 11 months to make.