Eastern Extension Telegraph Company – linking HK to the world

HF: The article containing the report, The Causes and Effects of the Present Trade Depression in HK 1935 mentions The Eastern Extension Telegraph Company Ltd and its manager, a Mr Carter.

Curious about the history of submarine communication cables linking Hong Kong and the rest of the world I discovered  an absorbing website run by Bill Burns. This goes under the name “History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications from the first submarine cable of 1850 to the worldwide fiber optic network”.  (See link to the website below.) I contacted Bill who kindly gave me permission to use the extracts and images shown here.

Eastern Extension Telegraph Company HK office c1902 Bill Burns image

Eastern Extension Company’s Hong Kong office circa 1902

Bill writes, Much of the information on the history of telegraph magnate John Pender’s companies comes from Kenneth Haigh’s 1978 book “Cableships and Submarine Cables”.

Although it’s not specifically mentioned on my site, Haigh notes that the Eastern Extension, Australasia and China Telegraph Company was finally amalgamated with numerous other related companies following the Imperial Wireless and Cable Conference in 1928.

The conference was called because of fear of competition being detrimental to both interests, and the cable companies soon after were merged with various wireless companies to form Imperial and International Communications Limited, which was incorporated on 29 September 1929; the name was changed to Cable and Wireless Limited in 1934.

HF: The following extracts directly relate to Hong Kong:

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 Miniato lay it from Singapore-Cochin China-Hong Kong. The work took place in 1871… 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.

In 1883 CS Scotia extended the cable from Hong Kong to Shanghai with a landing being made at Foochow. 1884 saw another cable from Singapore to Hong Kong, this time with landings at Tonkin. Sherard Osborn also laid a 35 nm cable from Hong Kong to Macao.

Receipt fo a telegram sent from the Philippines to Hong Kong dated 13 November 1884

Receipt for a telegram sent from the Philippines to Hong Kong dated 13 November 1884

In 1891 Penang was connected to Medan, Sumatra, by CS Recorder. In 1894 a different route was followed between Singapore and Hong Kong, this time with a landing at Labuan, North Borneo, the 2002 nm cable being laid by CS Scotia.

A cable linking Aden-Colombo, Ceylon-Penang-Singapore-Hong Kong was laid in 1914 using CS Colonia.

The Eastern  Extension Telegraph Company from Bill Burns’ website below

Atlantic-Cable.com Website for a link to the main page

This article was first posted on 7th August 2014.

Related Indhhk articles:

Report – The Causes and Effects of the Present Trade Depression in HK 1935

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