World War II Escape Stairs

Contributed by Porthcurno Telegraph Museum

World War II Escape Stairs

During World War 2, communication by telegraph between the British Empire and her allies depended largely on Cable and Wireless. Over their 355,000 mile cable and radio network, governments coordinated their policy, newspapers and broadcasters received the latest war news and families at home exchanged messages with men fighting overseas.

At the time, the telegraph station at Porthcurno was the main point through which telegraph cables left Britain, connecting her to the rest of the world. So Porthcurno was a potential target for bombing raids and possibly even invasion.

Between June 1940 and May 1841, tunnels were blasted into the hillside behind the station by Cornish miners and the vital telegraph equipment was moved into them.

In the event of enemy attack from the front entrances of the tunnels, the telegraph workers needed another escape route. The escape stairs, cut through solid granite, link the underground tunnels with the hilltop above. Their design includes right angle turns, blast proof doors and bullet deflectors.

A product of their time, the tunnels and escape stairs reflect the importance of secure worldwide communication in war.

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1940 - 1941


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