There are at present twenty-six submarine cable companies, the combined capital of which is about forty million pounds sterling. Their revenue, including subsidies, amounts to 3,204,060£.; and their reserves and sinking funds to 3,610,000£.; and their dividends are from one to 14¾ per cent. The receipts from the Atlantic cables alone amount to about 800,000£. annually.

The number of cables laid down throughout the world is 1,045, of which 798 belong to governments and 247 to private companies. The total length of those cables is 120,070 nautical miles, of which 107,546 are owned by private telegraph companies, nearly all British; the remainder, or 12,524 miles, are owned by governments.

MAP SHOWING CABLES FROM GREAT BRITAIN TO AMERICA AND THE CONTINENT. The largest telegraphic organization in the world is that of the Eastern Telegraphic Company, with seventy cables, of a total length of 21,859 nautical miles. The second largest is the Eastern Extension, Australasia and China Telegraph Company, with twenty-two cables, of a total length of 12,958 nautical miles. The Eastern Company work all the cables on the way to Bombay, and the Eastern Extension Company from Madras eastward. The cables landing in Japan, however, are owned by a Danish company, the Great Northern. The English station of the Eastern Company is at Porthcurno, Cornwall, and through it pass most of the messages for Spain, Portugal, Egypt, India, China, Japan, and Australia.


The third largest cable company is the Anglo-American Telegraph Company, with thirteen cables, of a total length of 10,196 miles.

The British government has one hundred and three cables around our shores, of a total length of 1,489 miles. If we include India and the colonies, the British empire owns altogether two hundred and sixteen cables of a total length of 3,811 miles.

The longest government cable in British waters is that from Sinclair Bay, Wick, to Sandwick Bay, Shetland, of the length of 122 miles, and laid in 1885. The shortest being four cables across the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal, at the latter place, and each less than 300 ft. in length.

Of government cables the greatest number is owned by Norway, with two hundred and thirty-six, averaging, however, less than a mile each in length.

The greatest mileage is owned by the government of France with 3,269 miles, of the total length of fifty-one cables.

The next being British India with 1,714 miles, and eighty-nine cables; and Germany third with 1,570 miles and forty-three cables.

Britain being fourth with ninety miles less. The oldest cable still in use is the one that was first laid, that namely from Dover to Calais. It dates from 1851.

The two next oldest cables in use being those respectively from Ramsgate to Ostend, and St. Petersburg to Cronstadt, and both laid down in 1853.

Several unsuccessful attempts were made to connect England and Ireland by means of a cable between Holyhead and Howth; but communication between the two countries was finally effected in 1853, when a cable was successfully laid between Portpatrick and Donaghadee (31).

As showing one of the dangers to which cables laid in comparatively shallow waters are exposed, we may relate the curious accident that befell the Portpatrick cable in 1873. During a severe storm in that year the Port Glasgow ship Marseilles capsized in the vicinity of Portpatrick, the anchor fell out and caught on to the telegraph cable, which, however, gave way. The ship was afterward captured and towed into Rothesay Bay, in an inverted position, by a Greenock tug, when part of the cable was found entangled about the anchor.

The smallest private companies are the Indo-European Telegraph Company, with two cables in the Crimea, of a total length of fourteen and a half miles; and the River Plate Telegraph Company, with one cable from Montevideo to Buenos Ayres, thirty-two miles long.

The smallest government telegraph organization is that of New Caledonia, with its one solitary cable one mile long.

We will now proceed to give a few particulars regarding the companies having cables from Europe to America.

The most important company is the Anglo-American Telegraph Company, whose history is inseparably connected with that of the trials and struggles of the pioneers of cable laying.

Its history begins in 1851 when Tebets, an American, and Gisborne, an English engineer, formed the Electric Telegraph Company of Newfoundland, and laid down twelve miles of cable between Cape Breton and Nova Scotia. This company was shortly afterward dissolved, and its property transferred to the Telegraphic Company of New York, Newfoundland and London, founded by Cyrus W. Field, and who in 1854 obtained an extension of the monopoly from the government to lay cables.

A cable, eighty-five miles long, was laid between Cape Breton and Newfoundland (22).

Field then came to England and floated an English company, which amalgamated with the American one under the title of the Atlantic Telegraph Company.

The story of the laying of the Atlantic cables of 1857 and 1865, their success and failures, has often been told, so we need not go into any details. It may be noted, however, that communication was first established between Valentia and Newfoundland on August 5. 1858, but the cable ceased to transmit signals on September 1, following.

During that period, ninety-seven messages had been sent from Valentia, and two hundred and sixty-nine from Newfoundland. At the present time, the ten Atlantic cables now convey about ten thousand messages daily between the two continents. The losses attending the laying of the 1865 cable resulted in the financial ruin of the Atlantic company and its amalgamation with the Anglo-American. In 1866 the Great Eastern successfully laid the first cable for the new company, and with the assistance of other vessels succeeded in picking up the broken end of the 1865 cable and completing its connection with Newfoundland.