August 26, 2019  
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Diary Extracts: Technology


Extract 1: The 'Great Eastern' and laying the first Atlantic Cable

(All extracts taken from GB 0240 FA/67/3)  

Extract 1: The 'Great Eastern' and laying the first Atlantic Cable

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[p 284]

[August 15th 1865]

...Just now the spectral looking hull
and rigging of the large ‘Paddler’ could be seen
nearly buried in the fog: a few minutes
afterwards however she came into view with
the signal “Terrible” flying. Before she
came close up to us (1/2 an hour afterwards) we learned
by signal the fate of the cable and other
general particulars. It parted (the cable) 606 miles
from Heart’s Content or about 545 miles from this.
 The accident by which about £800,000 now lies
buried at the bottom of the ocean occurred very
simply. It appears they had occasion to under-
run a portion of cable (for the 3rd or 4th time) to recover
‘a flaw’ while in the act of heaving it in the steam
machinery failed – the cable therefore came under
the Great Eastern “fore-foot” chafing and grinding
It was impossible to back astern from it as it
would certainly have snapped – and to go ahead
would have been tenfold worse: they had then
only to endeavor to keep the cable clear of the
stern and wait for steam. As soon as the machinery
was again in working order, they proceeded to heave in
and had got the chaffed or injured portion quite in-
board when it suddenly parted the ends flying high

[p 284]

p 284 extract thumbnail


[p 285]

into the air – one leaping into the sea – the other
towards the machinery. It is stated that the
cable was seized three times with grappling
but that the cables parted from the stram. Once
with ‘the wire cable’ it was raised a mile from the
bottom. 2.P.M. the Royalist returned to Hearts
Content to await the arrival of the Sphinx which
has been sent out to Cork for the Terrible and Great Eastern








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