Monday, June 13, 2011

Ascension Island - ENGLAND - SOUTH AFRICA CABLES 1899 - 1901

On the outbreak of the Boer War in 1899 direct communication between the UK and South Africa became essential. The Eastern Telegraph Company contracted the Telegraph Construction & Maintenance Company to manufacture and lay the cables. CS Anglia laid the 2065 nm first stage from Cape Town to St Helena, completing it by 26 November 1899. While CS Anglia returned to the UK for more cable CS Seine laid the section from St Helena to Ascension a distance of 844 nm completing it by 15 December 1899. CS Anglia then laid 1975 nm of cable from Ascension to St Vincent, Cape Verde Islands, completing the task by 21 February 1900. At St Vincent the cable connected with the Western Telegraph Company's cables to Carcavelos, Portugal, then via Eastern to Porthcurno, England. In 1901 the Eastern Telegraph Company contracted the same company to manufacture and lay cables from St Vincent to Madeira and from there to Porthcurno. CS Anglia and CS Britannia (2) carried out the work. As an alternative route in case of cable failure CS Anglia laid a cable from Ascension to Freetown, Sierra Leone a distance of 1125 nm in 1901. Maria sent me this lovely cover.
In 1979 Ascension issued a set of stamps celebrating the 80th anniversary of the landing of this cable on Ascension, but inscribed the design as "80th Anniversary of the Eastern Telegraph Company". The Eastern Telegraph Company was formed in 1872. A similar thing happened in 1999 when both Ascension and St Helena issued stamps to celebrate the centenary of the cable but inscribed the designs as "Centenary of Cable & Wireless". Cable & Wireless was formed in 1934.

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