|Enderby's Wharf was used to
supply cable ships that laid thousands of miles of underwater cables. In
1866 the first cable was successfully laid by the Great Eastern ship that
was built on the opposite bank at Millwall. More recently amplifiers, or
repeaters were put in under water cables to allow speech to be transmitted;
the first transatlantic one was laid in 1956 and could carry 36 telephone
conversations at the same time. You should be able to see a black and white
repeater on display here, and a jetty has even been carved in its honour.
Telcon's East Greenwich factory manufactured 140,000 miles of cable, which
played a massive role in the process of globalising communications, the
global development of the internet and so on. Peter Turbin was an instrument
maker who worked here, and gives us an insider's view of this extraordinary
industry, which still has a major base here at the Alcatel factory, which makes repeaters for submarine cable (this is now produced in Calais, France). A staff member there has told me that the method of installing the cables has hardly changed since the 1860s.