Outreach Talks

Outreach Talks

Want an entertaining and surprising talk for your group, club or special event? We have delivered talks for all kinds of groups and clubs including Women’s Institutes, U3A’s, Probus Clubs, Rotary Clubs, Young Farmers’ Clubs, Old Cornwall Societies, Local History Groups, church groups, Cafe Scientifique and many more.
We can tailor talks for your particular group, whether you’re looking for a technical talk focusing on communications technology, or something with a social history focus. Below is an outline of the type of talks we offer, but if you have something specific in mind then please contact us to discuss your requirements.
The duration of a talk is generally 45-60 minutes, but we can easily adapt a shorter or longer talk to meet your needs. We also like to use supporting materials to bring talks to life; including photographs and images from Porthcurno’s historic archive, facsimile historic documents, or even handling objects.
To book an outreach talk for your group or club, contact us on 01736 810966.
See what Ideas Cafe talks are coming up soon at the museum


‘Porthcurno: The Hub of the Empire’

This is a non-technical look at how West Cornwall played an important part in the development of telecommunications around the world, from the early days of submarine cables to modern satellites.

This talk covers:

  • The development of early communications on the Railways
  • The adventure and hazards of laying early undersea cables
  • Porthcurno’s role in the spread of cables world wide
  • Marconi’s experiments in Cornwall
  • The development of satellites
  • Present communications


‘A Career Abroad’

From the 1870s until the 1990s telegraph and wireless operators and engineers were trained in Porthcurno (and elsewhere) to travel abroad and keep global communications running. This is the story of their lives, good times and bad.

This talk covers:

  • Early communications from Porthcurno
  • Porthcurno as the cable hub
  • Training at Porthcurno
  • Life abroad for operators, technicians and engineers
  • ‘Victorian Communications: The Weird and the Wonderful’
  • A very non-technical look at how the Victorians tackled the problems of communications with many outlandish ideas. Some worked, some didn’t, and some were just bizarre. But, generally, they got the job done with determination and dedication.


‘Ascension Island: Living on an extinct volcano’

Ascension Island has a long history as an “outpost of the Empire”, from the first inhabitation in 1815 to the present. It is tiny, but has played an important role in many of history’s important events.

This talk covers:

  • Napoleon’s exile
  • A centre of communications
  • Fighting the slave trade
  • Ascension’s importance during wartime
  • The Apollo “man on the moon” project
  • Ascension’s present-day role


‘The Victorian Internet’

Tracing the history of telecommunications from the early days on the railways, the worldwide cable system at the end of the century, to the beginnings of wireless communications in 1901. This work laid the foundations for the internet as we know it today.

This talk covers:

  • Early railway communications
  • The problems involved with laying the first submarine cables
  • The technical development of cable communications
  • Early wireless development


‘Beyond the Victorian Internet’

Following on from ‘The Victorian Internet’ this talk shows how the work of the Victorians developed into the integrated telecommunications system of the present day.

This talk covers:

  • 20th Century development of both undersea cables and wireless
  • The importance of telecommunications during war and peace
  • The digital era

Telegraph Museum