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Memorabilia 2

Great Canadian Ships

Great Eastern Steamship - 1853-1889 - 2

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Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

As fabulous a tour de force, as the building of the world's biggest ship in 1858, and its success in laying the first trans Atlantic cable, was the publication, in 1865, of Robert Dudley's 26 stunning lithographs, produced to grace WH Russell's book "The Atlantic Cable."

These beautiful lithographs feature highlights of the work carried out during 1865-1866 when the first successful cable was laid between Ireland and Heart's Content, in Newfoundland in Canada. Messages between North America and Europe that before had often taken weeks by ship, now went in seconds.

Here a whale fouls the attempt by HMS Agamemnon to lay an early cable in 1858.

The attempt was called off, and the Great Eastern later engaged to do the work.


Lithograph, HMS Agamemnon Laying the Atlantic Telegraph Cable in 1858; A whale Crosses the Line
Orig. lithograph - Image Size -15 x 22 cm
Found - Napanee, ON
"The Atlantic Telegraph" - Artist - Robert Dudley, Auth - WH Russell; Pub - Day & Son Ltd. London, 1865
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Breaks in the cable were frequent and splicing was a common occurrence that held everything up while a couple of men repaired the damage.

A lot of the examination of the cable was done visually, usually with more people looking on, than looking at problems on the cable.


Lithograph, Splicing the Cable After the First Accident On Board the Great Eastern July 25th
Orig. lithograph - Image Size -15 x 22 cm
Found - Napanee, ON
"The Atlantic Telegraph" - Artist - Robert Dudley, Auth - WH Russell; Pub - Day & Son Ltd. London, 1865
theCanadaSite.com
Copyright Goldi Productions Ltd. - 2009
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

The men inside are lolling about in the mess.

The cable station is a museum now but you can still see the rusting lengths of cable emerging from the ground at the water's edge and and see the exact spot where this historic event happened.


Lithograph, Trinity Bay, Newfoundland Telegraph House, 1857-58, Interior
Orig. lithograph - Image Size -15 x 22 cm
Found - New York, NY
"The Atlantic Telegraph" - Artist - Robert Dudley, Auth - WH Russell; Pub - Day & Son Ltd. London, 1865
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure It had taken a year from July 1865 to July 1866 to bring the cable to Newfoundland.

Robert Dudley has wonderfully captured the cold and desolate country that Canada was in the 1860s.

The ship actually parked inside the bay at Heart's Content, Newfoundland, which has little changed since the momentous day in July 1866 when the sailors struggled ashore with the great Atlantic cable.

 


Lithograph, Trinity Bay, Newfoundland Telegraph House, 1857-58
Orig. lithograph - Image Size -15 x 22 cm
Found - New York, NY
"The Atlantic Telegraph" - Artist - Robert Dudley, Auth - WH Russell; Pub - Day & Son Ltd. London, 1865
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure Cable laying did not stop at night. Paying out cable was a slow process and took many men: some to bring it up from below, others to pay it through the machinery, and more to do the repairs of cable and machines that were required for this operation.

It's amazing that anyone got any sleep. It was an exciting time, not only historically, but also meteorologically

Passenger liners and sailing ships could dash across the Atlantic Ocean and escape bad weather and storms.

Not the Great Eastern; she was permanently tethered to her cable and had to take, without complaint, the worst that mother nature could lay on.


Lithograph, The Forge on Deck, Night of Aug. 9, 1865
Orig. lithograph - Image Size -15 x 22 cm
Found - New York, NY
"The Atlantic Telegraph" - Artist - Robert Dudley, Auth - WH Russell; Pub - Day & Son Ltd. London, 1865
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

The cable, and the buoy, would finally be raised to the deck and the many gouges and tears that the grappling hook had made, to the covering of the cable, repaired.

The ship's cable end would be spliced on, and a message sent back to Ireland to test the success of the repair, and the strength of the signal.

The cable laying could begin again.


Lithograph, Getting Out One of the Large Buoys for Launching, Aug 2
Orig. lithograph - Image Size -15 x 22 cm
Found - New York, NY
"The Atlantic Telegraph" - Artist - Robert Dudley, Auth - WH Russell; Pub - Day & Son Ltd. London, 1865
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

A curious mix of technolgoy at a great transition in history.

The steam operated winch and the sail still in evidence and still necessary on this great iron steamship.


Lithograph, Forward Deck for the Final Attempt at Grappling, Aug 11th
Orig. lithograph - Image Size -15 x 22 cm
Found - New York, NY
"The Atlantic Telegraph" - Artist - Robert Dudley, Auth - WH Russell; Pub - Day & Son Ltd. London, 1865
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

The grappling hook is shown hanging from its forward pulley. It has been dragged across miles of ocean trying to locate the broken cable. Finally, success! And now to mark the spot on the surface!

As the location marker buoy is lowered, one gets an idea of the immense size of the ship. The men are mere ants in the rigging, and along the deck, and totally dwarfed by the size of the anchors that the Great Eastern carries.

 


Lithograph, Marking the Spot Where the Cable Had Been Grappled, Aug. 8, 1865
Orig. lithograph - Image Size -15 x 22 cm
Found - Toronto, ON
"The Atlantic Telegraph" - Artist - Robert Dudley, Auth - WH Russell; Pub - Day & Son Ltd. London, 1865
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure Sometimes, like on August 2, left, the cable was lost altogether, breaking off because of rough weather, or machinery failure.

Then the grappling hook, lying on the foredeck left had to be brought out, and the foredeck area cleared for the grappling operation off the bow.

The ship would steam back and forth trying to hook the fallen cable on the ocean bottom. It might take days before it would be found again. Then it might slip off again as they were trying to bring it to the surface. Then the grappling would begin again. Many days were spent in these salvage operations.


Lithograph, In the Bows, the Cable Broken and Lost, Preparing to Grapple, Aug. 2, 1865
Orig. lithograph - Image Size -15 x 22 cm
Found - Napanee, ON
"The Atlantic Telegraph" - Artist - Robert Dudley, Auth - WH Russell; Pub - Day & Son Ltd. London, 1865
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

The winch, to haul the cable out of the tanks and pay it out the back of the ship was an enormous and powerful steam driven contraption.

 


Lithograph, The Paying Out Machinery
Orig. lithograph - Image Size -15 x 22 cm
Found - Napanee, ON
"The Atlantic Telegraph" - Artist - Robert Dudley, Auth - WH Russell; Pub - Day & Son Ltd. London, 1865
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

To make sure that the cable was in top condition before it went over the side, it was inspected visually, as well as electrically, with messages sent back to Ireland constantly to make sure the signal remained strong.

When it grew weak, or failed altogether, the cable had to be hauled back in, and minutely examined, until the fault was found and corrected.


Lithograph, Searching for Fault After Recovery of the Cable from Bed of the Atlantic, July 31
Orig. lithograph - Image Size -15 x 22 cm
Found - New York, NY
"The Atlantic Telegraph" - Artist - Robert Dudley, Auth - WH Russell; Pub - Day & Son Ltd. London, 1865
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

The cable is being payed out from one of the many tanks aboard the Great Eastern.

The extensive handling this cable endured made it susceptible to damaging gouges, not so much to the copper core, but to the Gutta-percha insulating covering.

To make sure that the cable was in top condition before it went over the side, it was inspected visually, as well as electrically, with messages sent back to Ireland constantly to make sure the signal remained strong.

When it grew weak, or failed altogether, the cable had to be hauled back in, and minutely examined, until the fault was found and corrected.


Lithograph, Interior of One of the Tanks Aboard the Great Easter, Paying Out Cable
Orig. lithograph - Image Size -15 x 22 cm
Found - Toronto, ON
"The Atlantic Telegraph" - Artist - Robert Dudley, Auth - WH Russell; Pub - Day & Son Ltd. London, 1865
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

The great iron ship set sail at last!

Actually no, she steamed, driven by paddle wheels and a screw propeller, neither of which were strong enough, on their own, to drive the ship efficiently.

Once at sea the onerous task of laying the cable began, paying it out from the various tanks below decks left and over the side.

The extensive handling this cable endured made it susceptible to damaging gouges, not so much to the copper core, but to the Gutta-percha insulating covering.


Lithograph, The Great Eastern Under Weigh July 23
Orig. lithograph - Image Size -15 x 22 cm
Found - New York, NY
"The Atlantic Telegraph" - Artist - Robert Dudley, Auth - WH Russell; Pub - Day & Son Ltd. London, 1865
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Meanwhile, on the European side, in Ireland, a steam tug pulling a group of boats is involved in laying the earth wire from the shore station.

There was already a cable connection between Ireland and England so the cable laying started from a remote bay on the west coast of Ireland.


Lithograph, Foilhummerum Bay from at Valencia; the Caroline and Boats Laying the Earth Wire Jul 21
Orig. lithograph - Image Size -15 x 22 cm
Found - Napanee, ON
"The Atlantic Telegraph" - Artist - Robert Dudley, Auth - WH Russell; Pub - Day & Son Ltd. London, 1865
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Arthur Clarke called the laying of the Atlantic cable the nineteenth century's equivalent to the Apollo Moon Project. No wonder the Prince of Wales himself came to see the activities.

Left, Prince Albert Edward - who had visited Canada only five years before - visits the Great Iron Ship as it is taking on hundreds of miles of cable.

The heavy cable is being let down from the upper deck and manhandled into giant coils in one of the giant tanks, or rooms, built to hold the cable.

The size of the operation can be judged when one remembers that the men are actually standing on the coiled cable as a man in the foreground walks it around the outside of the expanding coil.


Lithograph, Coiling the Cable in the After Tank; Visit of HRH the Prince of Wales, May 24, 1865
Orig. lithograph - Image Size -15 x 22 cm
Found - Toronto, ON
"The Atlantic Telegraph" - Artist - Robert Dudley, Auth - WH Russell; Pub - Day & Son Ltd. London, 1865
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

This hulk, with the cable aboard, was then towed out by steam tug and parked beside the Great Eastern, which was anchored in deeper water, so the cable could be off-loaded.

The hulk, which looked big enough in the earlier litho, is dwarfed by the immense size of the ship itself and the huge paddle wheel housing.

Visible too are, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, the aft four masts of the great ship.


Lithograph, Loading the Cable from the Hulk
Orig. lithograph - Image Size -15 x 22 cm
Found - New York, NY
"The Atlantic Telegraph" - Artist - Robert Dudley, Auth - WH Russell; Pub - Day & Son Ltd. London, 1865
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

The cable, once manufactured, was passed out to an old hulk just offshore from the factory.

The Great Eastern herself was too huge to come into the shallows near the factory. So the cable was first put on an intermediate transport barge - a dismasted old sailing ship - that was parked nearby.


Lithograph, The Cable Passed from the Works Into the Hulk Lying in the Thames at Greenwich
Orig. lithograph - Image Size -15 x 22 cm
Found - Napanee, ON
"The Atlantic Telegraph" - Artist - Robert Dudley, Auth - WH Russell; Pub - Day & Son Ltd. London, 1865
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure Left, the finished cable, coated with Gutta-percha is being coiled inside huge tanks at the factory.

The man on the right walks the cable in a circle, with the coils gradually filling the tank to the top.

After he gets tired, two more coilers, who are resting after their exertions, will take over in turn.


Lithograph, Coiling the Cable in the Large Tanks at the Works, in Greenwich
Orig. lithograph - Image Size -15 x 22 cm
Found - Toronto, ON
"The Atlantic Telegraph" - Artist - Robert Dudley, Auth - WH Russell; Pub - Day & Son Ltd. London, 1865
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

The copper cable was manufactured at Greenwich, and insulated from abrasion and water by being covered with a newfangled plastic called Gutta-percha, which is shown arriving at the works left.

Hundreds of miles of cable were needed. It was stored on site in huge tanks.

It is extremely rare for any collector to have found all 26 lithos. It took years of sleuthing to ferret out even the 19 originals we feature on these pages.

Unlike other lithos, though - especially ones 144 years old - these are so highly prized by collectors that those you find are invariably in fine condition, lacking blemishes, or foxing because they have been so lovingly looked after.


Lithograph, Reels of Gutta-percha Conduction Wire Arriving at the Works
Orig. lithograph - Image Size -15 x 22 cm
Found - Toronto, ON
"The Atlantic Telegraph" - Artist - Robert Dudley, Auth - WH Russell; Pub - Day & Son Ltd. London, 1865

Robert Dudley, WH Russell, Day & Son Lithos - 1865