Telegraph Bay, HK Island – location of the first submarine telegraphic cable into Hong Kong, 1871
HF: “Telegraph Bay was the site of an early cable landing dating from the early part of the Twentieth Century. The environment of the bay and valley has been radically altered through reclamation and the construction of the Cyberport development. The old cable house is still located in its original position (although it is now located within the grounds of a school). The area running up the hillside behind the cable house site contained a squatter area that dated back over 100 years.” (1)
Telegraph Bay or Kong Sin Wan ( 綱綫灣), formerly known as Tai Hau Wan (大口灣), lies on the west coast of Hong Kong Island between Sandy Bay and Waterfall Bay. As stated above the Bay has been reclaimed and is where the Cyberport development is now located. As such I presume all structural evidence of the old cable house or anything else related to telegraphic cables arriving on HK Island has now dissapeared. Our article Eastern Extension Telegraph Company – linking HK to the world, is a direct link to this geographical location.
History of the Singapore to Hong Kong cable by Bill Burns
The China Submarine Telegraph Company was set up by John Pender in 1869 to link Hong Kong into his growing network of cable companies. Telcon manufactured the cable and used CS Agnes, Kangaroo, Belgian and Minia to lay it from Singapore-Cochin China-Hong Kong. The work took place in 1871; the information below is from trade papers of the time. Cochin China was the name at the time for the southern third of Vietnam; the cable landed at Saigon.
In 1873 the China Submarine Telegraph Company, the British Australian Telegraph Company, and the British-Indian Extension Company merged to form the Eastern Extension, Australasia & China Telegraph Company.
Further mergers over the next 60 years eventually resulted in the formation of Imperial & International Communications Ltd., which in 1934 changed its name to Cable & Wireless Ltd. The full story of these companies may be found on the Cable & Wireless page.
In 1901 CS Sherard Osborn picked up a section of the 1871 cable, and the images of the recovered cable on this page, shown next to the period descriptions of the cable construction, are courtesy of David Warwick.(2)
The New York Times 25th July 1871 reported that the China submarine Telegraph Company had completed the laying of a cable from Singapore to Shanghai via Hong Kong.
Further information about the laying of this first cable into Hong Kong or images of related structures in Telegraph Bay or elsewhere in HK would be most welcome.
- Enviromental Protection Department – Agreement No. CE 43/2005 (EP) Harbour Area Treatment Scheme (HATS) Stage 2A EIA Study – Investigation Final EIA Report
- Singapore – Hong Kong cable Bill Burns’ website
- EPD Report – Agreement No. CE 43/2005
- Old Telecom Compound – gwulo.co material
- Bill Burns website: History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications -from the first submarine cable of 1850 to the worlwide fiber optic network
Related Indhhk articles:
- Eastern Extension Telegraph – linking HK to the world
- The Gutta Percha Company – link to Eastern Extension Telegraph Company and Hong Kong
- Submarine Cables – Maps 1901 + 1991 worldwide / Hong Kong networks
- Cable ship in HK harbour 1960s – information needed