Two men, apparently carrying rifles, walk through the snow with a dog, while a third figure, near the entrance to the Telegraph House, waves to them. To the left of the composition, two thick telegraph cables are supported by a telegraph pole and can be traced to where they enter the Telegraph House, through a ground floor window.
The project to lay a telegraph cable across the bed of the Atlantic Ocean, using the ship ‘The Great Eastern’, was completed in 1865. The cable would be used to transmit messages across the Ocean via a telegraph operator, using Morse code. The code was then interpreted as a written message at the other end. The cable itself stretched from western Ireland to eastern Newfoundland in Canada. At each end, where the cable came ashore, it was fed into the instrument room of the Telegraph House, where messages where sent and received. One of the first transmissions to be sent using the new cable was a message from Queen Victoria to US President James Buchanan.
This print was first published as one of several illustrations by Bartlett in the book ‘The Atlantic Telegraph’. It was written by William Howard Russell, a journalist for ‘The Times’ newspaper, and published in 1866.
Lithographer Robert M. Bryson was active in the mid-19th century and specialised in topographical views of military and naval subjects after designs by contemporary artists. He worked for Day & Son, the firm originally established by publisher William Day (1797-1845), and made numerous plates for the various books on travel and military campaigns published by the Company, including ‘The Atlantic Telegraph’ (published 1866). In 1851 Bryson married Eleanor Selina Prey, daughter of the late James Prey of Aberdeen Hotel, in Aberdeen. Nothing further is known of his life.
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