Porthcurno Telegraph Museum

Children in the Porthcurno Telegraph Museum
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Porthcurno in Cornwall is one of the UK's most important historic communications sites and home to the award-winning Porthcurno Telegraph Museum, housed in an underground Second World War building.

In 1870 when the beautiful valley of Porthcurno first became a communications centre, pioneering engineers were just beginning to create their own ‘Victorian Internet’. Using the most advanced technology of their day, they laid a telegraph cable network which transformed the speed of communication to the British Empire and beyond. Porthcurno was at the centre of this Imperial network where the cables were landed on the soft sandy beach.

By the Second World War, Porthcurno’s communications centre had become so important that it was moved into a bomb-proof, gas-proof underground building. From here, vital secret messages were transmitted around the world. Today, the tunnels house the museum in which you can see working equipment from the Victorian age and Second World War.

The 'Early Days at Porthcurno' exhibition looks at the period between 1870 and the start of WW1. Visitors can also find out about the social history of the parish of St Levan in our local history centre.

Visitors can also picnic in our scultpre gardens, book a tennis court or take a 5 minute stroll along the cable trail to the beautiful National Trust beach and coastal path.

Special events take place throughout the year, including family activities, lectures and workshops. Many of our events are free.

“Very good – we enjoyed the hands on stuff and would like to learn how to do Morse Code – easier than texting on a mobile! (when you are over 40 anyway!)”

“Just like it was on the Discovery Channel. Now we’ve seen it for real.”

The Museum has Designated Collections of national and international importance.

Venue Type:

Museum, Archive, Heritage site

Opening hours

Winter opening (from 1 November): open every Saturday, Sunday and Monday 10:00 - 17:00. Last admission 16:00.

Admission charges

Family (2 adults + 3 children age 5-16) £21.50
Adult £8.50
Child age 5-16 (under 5's FREE) £5.00
Senior (60+) £7.50
Student £5.00

Discounts

  • Museums Association
  • English Heritage

Additional info

Museum shop & cafe area
Outdoor picnic area
Free sculpture gardens open 365 days a year
Large car park (free in winter months)
Tennis courts for hire
Classroom facility
Meeting/conference facilities for hire

The core collection of submarine telegraphy objects and the historic archive collections of key international telegraph cable companies are Designated Collections of national importance.

These collections of archives and objects in their original setting, tell the story of the development of international communication that changed the world. In 1870, Porthcurno began its life as an important centre of international communications, as it was in this year that a chain of telegraph cables linking Britain with India was completed. Porthcurno was chosen as the landing point for the British end of this cable link. At its height, Porthcurno was the world's largest cable station, with 14 telegraph cables in operation.

The world's best specialist collection of telegraph equipment and technology. Technical collections mostly 1850 - 1950. Social history and ephemeral items relating to the evolution of the undersea electric telegraph. Local Parish history collection. Archive of Cable & Wireless covering telegraph businesses from 1860 - 1970s. Some material relating to the devleopent of radio, specifically at Porthcurno. Extensive photographic collection of local history, technical history and British Empire. Local archaeology.

Collection details

Weapons and War, Sport, Social History, Science and Technology, Photography, Maritime, Industry, Archives, Archaeology

Key artists and exhibits

  • Models and material/archives from Brunel's Great Eastern. Working World War II Telegraph station in World War II underground building.
  • Designated Collection
Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.
Heritage Open Days

Heritage Open Days: Telegraph Museum Porthcurno: Cable & Wireless Archive

  • 10 September 2015

Enjoy a rare glimpse behind the scenes at the Telegraph Museum Porthcurno. Our friendly Collections Team, led by Collections Manager Charlotte Todd, will provide a background to the Cable & Wireless Archive and tours of the state-of-the-art Archive Strong Room not normally accessible by the public.

Highlights from the collection
not normally on public display
will be available to view in the Search Room including historic maps and charts, photographs, the fascinating diary of George Spratt
Superintendent of Porthcurno's telegraph station in the 1800s.

The Collections Team will be on hand to provide advice on how to care for your personal archive collection including photographs and documents. You can also discover how to access Porthcurno's archive for your own family history or local history research projects, including a free family name search of our records.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children

Website

http://www.heritageopendays.org.uk/directory/telegraph-museum-porthcurno-cable-wireless-archive

Heritage Open Days

Heritage Open Days: Porthcurno Telegraph Museum Open Day

  • 13 September 2015

Explore the award-winning Telegraph Museum Porthcurno for free, and uncover Cornwall's hidden history.

From interactive sculpture gardens to underground World War 2 tunnels. Enjoy hands-on exhibits, live demonstrations, and family-friendly workshops.

See working telegraph equipment inside the world's biggest telegraph cable station and find out why Porthcurno was home of the Victorian internet. You can even try your hand at sending your own Morse code telegraph message.

Porthcurno is home to the biggest and busiest telegraph cable station in the world
a network of 14 cables connected Porthcurno to every corner of the world.

Today, the museum tells an inspiring story of global communications and the people behind the telegraph and early wireless. In our age of email, mobile phones and the internet, it is a story that has never been more relevant!

Suitable for

  • Any age

Website

http://www.heritageopendays.org.uk/directory/porthcurno-telegraph-museum-open-day

Resources listed here may include websites, bookable tours and workshops, books, loan boxes and more. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all.

Communication Workshop

A very popular workshop using a hands-on approach to exploring communication before the telegraph, the science behind the electric telegraph, and modern internet communication. There is an opportunity to dress up in Victorian or WWII costumes, explore our museum and WWII tunnels, and visit our Anderson shelter and dig for victory garden.

Creator

  • Larissa Paver, Learning Manager, Porthcurno Telegraph Museum

How to obtain

To arrange a workshop and visit or to discuss any aspect of our learning opportunities, contact Larissa Paver on 01736 810592,
email: larissa.paver@porthcurno.org.uk

Electrifying Victorians

How did life change during Victorian times as electricity was introduced. What did they use it for? How effective was it? Who developed it? Lots of exciting experiments and historical information based at Porthcurno the home of the 'Victorian Internet'. Also don't miss the chance to dress up in Victorian costume and explore what life was like for people in the age of the early telegraph.

Creator

  • Larissa Paver, Learning Manager, Porthcurno Telegraph Museum

How to obtain

Call Larissa Paver, Learning Manager on 01736 810592 or e-mail larissa.paver@porthcurno.org.uk.

Sound science

All children like to make a noise and here they can! They also learn what sound is, what we use if for, how it can be sent long distances and who developed sound technology. Lots of hands on experiments and original artefacts to investigate.

Creator

  • Lesley Allen, Museum Education Officer

How to obtain

Contact Lesley Allen on 01736 810592 or email lesleyallen@porthcurno.org.uk

Tunnels and Telegrams

Set at this important World War II site with its secret tunnels, escape stairs and gun emplacements, this workshop deals with life in a Cornish community during the Second World War and investigates why Porthcurno, a small valley in the far West of Cornwall, was such an important world communications centre. Explore the science behind the electric telegraph and dress up in WWII clothes, pack an evacuee suitcase, practice your gas and air raid drills with our gas rattle and air raid siren.

Creator

  • Larissa Paver, Learning Manager, Porthcurno Telegraph Manager

How to obtain

Contact Larissa Paver on 01736 810592 or e-mail on larissa.paver@porthcurno.org.uk

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

Website

www.porthcurno.org.uk

E-mail

info@porthcurno.org.uk

Front of House Manager

caroline.seats@porthcurno.org.uk

Learning Manager

larissa.paver@porthcurno.org.uk

Press Officer

rachel.webster@porthcurno.org.uk

Telephone

01736 810966

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.
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