National Museums Scotland in cooperation with the Institute for the Study of Science, Technology and Innovation, University of Edinburgh


Thursday 22 January 2009 3pm

LECTURE: Connecting Cornwall: Telecommunication, Locality and Work in West Britain, 1870-1918

Dr Richard Noakes, University of Exeter

Location: Dunfermline Room, National Museums Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh EH1 1JF

Admission free

Please register with Maureen Kerr on 0131 247 4274 or [email protected]

Cornwall is justly regarded as a county rich in technological heritage, but its history of telecommunication in the nineteenth and twentieth century is often overshadowed by that of mining in the eighteenth and nineteenth. This paper outlines the questions, research strategies, and preliminary findings of a new project to reassess the social and cultural development of cable and wireless telegraphy in Cornwall during the late Victorian and Edwardian periods. It focuses on the activities of the cable station and later, training college, at Porthcurno, established in 1870 by the largest telecommunications firm in the late nineteenth century, the Eastern Telegraph Company. This paper suggests that the case of Porthcurno offers new insights into the way young men were prepared for the exciting and often harsh life operating, maintaining and developing technologies for holding together the British empire.


a series of public lectures presenting leading international research and ideas in the history, philosophy, politics and sociology of technology