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Press Release| 150th Anniversary Events at Porthcurno Cove, Cornwall | June 2020


    Press Release     
    27 | 02 | 20

150th Anniversary Events for June

Celebrating the very first telegraph cable landing at Porthcurno in 1870

The Porthcurno Cable landing from Illustrated London News June 1870

The historic cable landing at Porthcurno, as published in the Illustrated London News, June 1870 

This June, PK Porthcurno (previously Telegraph Museum Porthcurno) presents a series of events and exhibitions to celebrate the 150th anniversary of a moment that marked the beginning of our modern global communications network. In June 1870, the final section of a telegraph cable was landed on the beach at Porthcurno in Cornwall, enabling telegraphic communication between London and Bombay, with intermediate connections in Portugal, Gibraltar, Malta and Egypt. From this time forwards, messages that might have taken weeks, or even months to arrive, could be sent in minutes. This landmark development was the brainchild of visionary entrepreneur John Pender, founder of The Falmouth, Gibraltar and Malta Telegraph Company. English and Indian Royalty celebrated the event at Pender' s home in Piccadilly, London, recognising the huge significance of this achievement.

The telegraphy network rapidly spread around the world, making Porthcurno the world's first global communication hub, and by the 1920s Porthcurno was home to largest telegraph station in the world. In time, telegraph cables were replaced by co-axial cables and co-axial cables replaced by fibre optic cables. The Porthcurno Telegraph Station, known by its call sign ‘PK', became an international specialist training college operated by Cable and Wireless. Known collectively as ‘The Exiles', engineering students from around the world came to this remote coastal valley to study together before taking their skills to far flung locations. Today the college is gone, but the fibre optic cables still come ashore at Porthcurno, and other Cornish beaches, carrying over 97% of all communications between the UK and the rest of the world.

PK Porthcurno now occupies the site of the former station and college, and that single cable landed 150 years ago has been transformed into a global communications network for internet, email, telephone and television traffic. To mark this historic anniversary, 2020 events and activities will include:



Tall Ship Event and Historic Re-enactment

On June 10th, in collaboration with Adventure Under Sail, the Minack Theatre, Carefree Cornwall and other partners, we will produce a re-enactment on Porthcurno beach to commemorate the laying of the first cable in 1870. The Cableship ‘Investigator' will be represented by the tall ship ‘Pelican of London', which will be moored at Porthcurno especially for the event, with a crew of young people from Cornwall. Our Cornish recruits will join the crew of the training ship when it drops anchor in Porthcurno on June 10th for the re-enactment, before sailing on Falmouth for the Sea Shanty Festival, and then on to France before returning to Cornwall. As part of the re-enactment, local gig rowing clubs will be invited to attend and will race out to the Pelican to bring the cable ashore.

A handful of paid places are available on the crew of The Pelican, for anyone who wants to experience the thrill of sailing a tall ship from Cornwall to France and back. Contact PK Porthcurno to enquire.


At the museum

During June we bring the PK Porthcurno museum site alive  with a range of exhibitions, activities and entertainment. A bespoke set of silk flags, designed by Cornwall-based textile artist Lucy Birbeck, will decorate the museum gardens. In association with Portuguese/Italian design collectiveMoradavaga, our museum gardens will play host to ‘Morgy' the giant squid,an interactive sound-experience, which explores ideas of human connectedness. As part of the Coastal Communities wAVE (Augmented & Virtual Experiences) project, visitors can download Morgy's adventure app, and follow a digital undersea trail around Porthcurno valley. Complete the trail and win prizes including discounted entry to the museum.


‘Cable King' Exhibition

This new exhibition tells the story of the life and work of John Pender, the entrepreneur whose pioneering vision to connect the world changed the way we communicate forever. Pender and his wife Emma Denison-Pender were among the first people to recognize the potential of undersea cable telegraphy, and Pender invested his considerable business skill and large amounts of money in their vision to create a worldwide submarine cable system.


Unique ‘Lego' Commission

Lego designer Warren Elsmore Studio will create a scale model of the Cableship ‘Investigator' and an imagined scene of the historic cable landing of 1870, complete with mini figures. The construction will be filmed and shared online, and the completed Lego model will be displayed in the museum from May half term onwards. 


Minack Theatre Production

Working with the Minack Theatre, we have commissioned a new play from playwright David Lane which draws on the history of the Porthcurno valley as a hub of global communication.

David's play, The Valley, begins in 1870 just hours after the first telegraph cable linking Britain to India has been laid in Porthcurno, when a farmer finds an abandoned child on his doorstep. 150 years later, her great-great-great-granddaughter returns to the valley. This brilliant new story spans two centuries and is about seeking a place in the world when nowhere feels like home, and a submarine network intertwining power and politics.

The play will be presented on the Minack stage throughout the week of June 22nd.


Golowan Festival 'Gets Connected'

Between 23rd and 28th June 2020 we join forces with the annual Golowan Festival, Penzance, for ‘Golowan Gets Connected', marking both the 150th anniversary of the cable landing in Porthcurno.  Local schools will be invited to create processional images based on the theme of communications, and local artists Graham Jobbins will create a 3D processional piece, Mercury, Messenger of the Gods, for the event. 


Planet PK | June 2020 and beyond

Planet PK is our ongoing environmental programme which looks to the future of Porthcurno valley and recognises our shared responsibility as residents and visitors in caring for this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Working with the Eden Project, we have replanted our carpark borders and beds with pollen producing wildflowers that support biodiversity. These will flower for the first time in 2020 and will then be an established feature of Porthcurno to be enjoyed by all.

For further information on these celebratory events see



PK Porthcurno, Eastern House, Porthcurno, Penzance, Cornwall, TR19 6JX

01736 810966 ||



A person standing in front of a sunsetDescription automatically generated


Sunset at PK Porthcurno, which stands on the site of what was once the world's largest telegraph station


300 dpi press images for press use:
CS Investigator landing the first cable 1870

PK Porthcurno Gardens_photo credit Rebecca Peters  

PK Porthcurno_photo credit Rebecca Peters 


Little girl visitor and globe_photo credit Rebecca Peters 

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


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PK Porthcurno

The tiny Cornish village of Porthcurno was once the heart of international telecommunications, boasting the largest telegraph station in the world. Today, PK 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

PK Porthcurno 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, PK 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

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

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