Machinery for taking the Atlantic telegraph cable aboard the Great Eastern. Source: The Illustrated London News (1865). [Click on image to enlarge it.]

Commentary accompanying the illustration

In two of the recent Number of this Journal we have given Illustrations of the shipping and stowing of the Atlantic telegraph cable on board the Great Eastern steam-ship, now lying in the Medway, to which the cable is brought, length by length, but not in severed pieces, by the two hulks that come down alternately from the manufacturers’ wharf at East Greenwich. The Engraving on our front page this week shows the apparatus erected upon the lower deck of the Great Eastern for hauling in the cable as delivered by the vessel alongside and passing it down into the hold, where it is to be stowed in the three great iron tanks, each 60 ft. in diameter, the first of which was shown in a former Illustration. The mechanism does not require much explanation, as it is of a simple and familiar kind; the cable is passed over a set of wheels or rollers, at a uniform rate of speed, regulated by the pressure of the level's at the top holding the cable steady in the grooves through which it runs; the place where it enters the ship is on the light hand of our View, and on the left hand is the aperture by which it descends into the hold. The man who is seen leaning against the frame, with his head thrust into a kind of upright box. is engaged in inspecting the index which gives an account of the quantity of cable taken in. if we consider what it is to measure a length of rope extending to nearly 3000 miles, we shall feel great respect for all concerned m so vast an operation. The frolicsome fairy in the A Midsummer Night’s Dream promised to put a girdle round the earth in forty minutes. The distance to be embraced by this cable is but a small segment of the terrestrial circumference; yet, when next midsummer allows the Great Eastern to set forth on her mighty errand across the Atlantic, we shall he satisfied if she can perform the task in as many days.

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“Machinery for the Atlantic telegraph cable aboard the Great Eastern.” The Illustrated London News 46 (18 February 1865): 150. Internet Archive/ Web. 24 November 2015.

Last modified 24 November 2015