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PRESS RELEASE Museum Launches Search For Historic Long Lost Paintings

Press Release

11 | 11 | 19


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Museum Launches Search for Historic

Lost Paintings

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The cable landing at Porthcurno, as featured in the Illustrated London News, June 1870, believed to have

been based on Dudley's original painting ‘Landing the Cable at Porthcurnow' 1870 | 14.5 x 22 inches


Ahead of next year's 150th anniversary of the first telegraph cable landing in Cornwall, Telegraph Museum Porthcurno are launching a search for two long-lost paintings by artist Robert Dudley, which captured the historic moment of the Porthcurno cable landing on 6th June 1870.

Following the landing, which connected Britain to Bombay, India, with intermediate connections at Portugal, Gibraltar, Egypt and Yemen, the cable station at Porthcurno became the largest telegraph station in the world and the most important communications centre in the British Empire. Dudley captured the historic cable landing in two watercolours, one depicting the Cable ShipInvestigator anchored at Porthcurno as it brought the undersea cable ashore, and a second depicting the moment Sir John Pender, founder of The Falmouth, Gibraltar and Malta Telegraph Company, sent the very first test message from the cable hut on Porthcurno beach to Bombay. Dudley presented both of these watercolours to Sir John Pender shortly after the event, and they became two of his most treasured possessions.

After Sir John Pender's death in 1896, the vast majority of his art collection was sold at auction by Messrs Christie, Manson & Woods in London. 66 paintings from his collection were held back by the Pender family, among which was the painting of Sir John Pender in the cable hut.  Christie's records indicate that the other painting, of the CSInvestigator, was purchased for ten guineas by the mysterious ‘D.G.', but unfortunately Christie's cannot confirm who D.G. was.  Since that sale 124 years ago, no record of the CSInvestigator painting has ever been found, but it is almost certain that it was the basis for the engraving published to mark the cable landing in the Illustrated London News, on 25 June 1870, for whom Dudley was an artist correspondent.

The cable hut painting was retained by Sir John Pender's son, John Denison-Pender, then chairman of The Falmouth, Gibraltar and Malta Telegraph Company, but after his death in 1929 the contents of his private residence were sold at auction by Hampton & Sons, London. Lots 300 and 301 from that auction are catalogued as paintings by Robert Dudley, but since no images were included in the catalogue, it is unclear exactly what these paintings were. It is possible that Lot 300 was the painting of CS Investigator, if Denison-Pender somehow acquired it again, and it is also likely that Lot 300 included the cable hut painting.

The Telegraph Museum Porthcurno are now keen to hear from anyone who can assist in locating these two important paintings by Robert Dudley, whose many other cable-related paintings and watercolours are included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York,  the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, and London's National Maritime Museum and the Science Museum, among others.

If you can assist in any way please contact Telegraph Museum Porthcurno Director Julia Twomlow, at

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The missing Cable Hut watercolour titled ‘Sir John Pender GCMG MP at Porthcurnow' 1870 | 8 x 5 inches

Telegraph Museum Porthcurno, Eastern House, Porthcurno, Penzance, Cornwall, TR19 6JX

01736 810966 ||




Print Ready 300dpi images for press use:

CS Investigator landing the first cable, as featured in the Illustrated London News 1870 

Sir John Pender GCMG MP at Porthcurnow 1870, by Robert Dudley

For further press information and additional high-resolution images contact Mercedes Smith| Tel 07825 270235 |



Editors Notes


Telegraph Museum Porthcurno

The tiny Cornish village of Porthcurno was once the heart of international telecommunications, boasting the largest telegraph station in the world. Today, the Telegraph Museum Porthcurno is a vibrant and captivating heritage attraction. Discover our World War II tunnels, which were the secret hub of Britain's wartime communications; visit the Cable Hut where the UK's network of underwater telecommunication cables came ashore; explore exhibitions and interactive displays telling the amazing story of global telecommunications. from the first practical use of electricity to how we communicate today using fibre optic cables that still run beneath the world's seas and oceans.

A Unique History

The Telegraph Museum is unique amongst Cornwall's heritage attractions and illustrates the crucial role Porthcurno and its residents played in the development of modern communications. In particular it tells the story of the people who came to train at the telegraph station, the friendships and romances they formed, the extraordinary lives they led as Cable & Wireless employees in far flung locations across the British Empire, and the vital role they played in defining the Allies' strategy during World War II.

For Families

Designed for all ages, this family-friendly interactive museum showcases the science, the people, and the amazing stories that made developments in global communications possible, and demonstrates how advances in digital communications are changing the world forever. Immerse your family in Porthcurno's lasting legacy and spend the day exploring science, technology, history and the world around us. With secret tunnels, trails, codes to crack, interactive technology, hands-on experiments and creative seasonal events, families can take advantage a wealth of inspiring activities throughout the year, as well as enjoying our onsite café, and browsing our museum shop.

For Schools

Our varied programme of school workshops combines engaging hands-on activities with time to explore the Museum. Our experienced learning team will work with you to plan your visit, tailoring workshops to meet your groups' needs or specific learning outcomes. Activities are hosted at our onsite Clore Learning Space - an accessible and flexible space designed for both formal and informal learning.

For Students and Researchers

Available by arrangement to school students, undergraduates, postgraduates and researchers, the Telegraph Museum Porthcurno houses the business archive of Cable & Wireless, an enviable collection that includes thousands of unique records from Porthcurno's lasting communication legacy, including an estimated 10,000 photographs from the 1850's to the present day. Following the closure of the original telegraph station and training school, many historically significant objects were kept and now form the basis of the Museum's unique collection, which has designated status in recognition of its national and international significance.

Additional Information

Telegraph Museum Porthcurno is owned by the PK Trust which is a registered educational charity no. 1062233.

Telegraph Museum Porthcurno, Eastern House, Porthcurno, Penzance, Cornwall, TR19 6JX | 01736 810966|


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