How Aldeburgh helped connect Suffolk to the world

Aldeburgh has been an important communication hub since the 1920s

Aldeburgh has been an important communication hub since the 1920s - Credit: Andrew Nunn/ Charlotte Bond

For almost a century Aldeburgh has been a telecommunications hub, linking Suffolk to Europe. 

While many of us take the ability to talk to people in other countries for granted, it wasn't until 1922 that the first telephone cable was laid between Aldeburgh and the small town of Domburg in The Netherlands. 

Since then 10 cables have linked the telephone lines on what is known as the Farland North line between the two countries, providing communication possibilities with Europe. 

Now a Suffolk man is looking to chart the history of this vital communication tool in a new piece of work. 

Andrew Nunn, from Woodbridge, used to work for BT, and would work at Monarch House in Aldeburgh which was a telephone repeater station at the time. 

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"Aldeburgh was very important in terms of communication with the Netherlands," he said. 

"It was the first telephone line to Holland."

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The repeater station's role was to repeat, or amplify, the international telephone circuits at the junction of the submarine and land cables.

At the time the first cable was laid it was the longest coil-loaded submarine cable in the world at 82.329 nautical miles. 

This cable was rolled up and loaded onto a ship before it was unloaded into the sea. 

It lasted just 15 years before it was replaced. 

Cables continued to be rolled out across the century apart from during the Second World War when lines were cut to prevent communication should the UK have been invaded. 

In 1994, cable 10, a fibre optic cable, was laid - this is the only line still in use between the two countries to this day.

Andrew Nunn speaks about the history of submarine cables in Suffolk PICTURE: CHARLOTTE BOND

Andrew Nunn hopes to chart the importance of Suffolk's communication history - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Now, Mr Nunn is hoping to keep the memory of the cables and their contribution to the local area alive. 

"I have been collection this information since the 1970s," he said. 

"And Aldeburgh is still performing an important role."

Monarch House is no longer in use, having been converted into flats and the exact location of the cable 10's modern-day termination is not publicly known.  

Nevertheless cable 10 continues to connect Suffolk to the continent along with a number of other subsea cables which are based at Leiston and Lowestoft. 

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