‘The Cable King’ Exhibition

‘The Cable King’ Exhibition

A new exhibition telling the little-known story of Sir John Pender, whose pioneering vision to connect the world changed the way we communicate forever.

The mid-nineteenth century was an age of technological expansion; an incredible revolution that gave the world the telegraph. Among many pioneers one man, John Pender, rose to dominate the world of submarine telegraphy. 

John Pender was born in 1816 to an ordinary working family in Scotland, and made his fortune as a textile merchant. He and his wife Emma Denison-Pender were among the first people to recognize the potential of undersea cable telegraphy. Pender invested his considerable business skill – and large amounts of money – in their vision to create a worldwide submarine cable system. In 1870 Pender hosted a huge reception in London to celebrate the completion of Porthcurno’s Anglo-India cable. The first message he sent to India was ‘How are you?’. The reply ‘All well’ took just five minutes to arrive.

The illustration shows H.R.H. The Prince of Wales at a soiree given by Mr John Pender at his home, 18 Arlington Street, to celebrate the opening of the first undersea cable to India. 1870

Laid 150 years ago, these early telegraph cables paved the way for the global communication network that we use today. Your internet connection, email, telephone, and television are the legacy of this Victorian network. As this technology continues to transform it is shaping and redefining the ways in which we live, connect, work and play, now and into the future.  

Visit the exhibition and discover more about the man they called ‘The Cable King’.

‘The Cable King’ Exhibition
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