On September 25th 1956 the first telephone cable connecting the UK and North America “went live”.
At 2,240 miles long, the cable ran from Gallanach Bay, near Oban in Argyll and Bute, to Clarenville, Canada. At the time we only had the one phone company, the General Post Office which didn’t become BT until 1980.
Communication between the continents wasn’t new, Cyrus Field conquered the ocean with his telegraph cable in 1858. Marconi transmitted successfully the first radio signal from shore to shore in 1901. In 1915 voices sent by radio from Arlington, Va., were heard in Paris. And in 1927, the year of Lindbergh’s superb flight, radiotelephone service was introduced between the United States and The British Isles, the cost of a three minute call at the time was £15!!! This was due to the Transmitters costing an astronomical £500,000 each in 1927.
In 1952, after a newly developed submarine telephone cable proved successful between Florida and Cuba, telephone men of the United States, Britain, and Canada consulted on the feasibility of a transatlantic telephone cable. The types of facilities to be used were reviewed for many months. In a contract dated November 27, 1953, the Bell System, the Post Office and the Canadian Overseas Telecommunication Corporation undertook the international project.
Several types of facilities were used on the new route as it went into service.
Telephone calls eastward from the United States will be carried from Portland, Maine, to Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia, over a new radio relay system, thence through a single cable across Cabot Strait to Clarenville, Newfoundland. From that point, calls took a Great Circle route through the deep-sea cables which stretched to Oban. Land circuits completed connections to London and other points in England and Scotland.
In all the cable took 3 years to lay and cost £12.5m.The pic shows the line reaching Scotland near Oban.