TAT-3, TAT-8 and CANTAT-2 Cable Landing Station

TAT-8 was commissioned in 1988 and terminated in the UK at Widemouth Bay. The probable termination location is the BT telephone exchange, which would otherwise appear to be particularly large for the sparse population in the area.  Additionally, there would appear to be plant rooms underground.

TAT-8 and TAT-7 cable samples.

18 thoughts on “TAT-3, TAT-8 and CANTAT-2 Cable Landing Station

  1. Clemens

    Hey, do you happen to have the geo coordinates for the site that you expect the TAT-8 Cable Landing Station to be??
    I just can’t find it on the map.

    Your help would be greatly appreciated, clemens

    Ps. THanks for the great work finding all these places. Interesting stuff!

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      The exchange is off Combe Lane, Widemouth Bay (basically on the southern side of the town itself).

      I think the exchange name is WWWBAY.

      Reply
  2. Paul

    My brother was shown round this facility in the sixties when he was an air cadet. It has a nuclear bunker, which he was shown round also. It was first put there to support the cable they laid in the sixties, I understand. In those days there were two big telegraph poles, in line, which had red “telegraph cable” signs at the top of them in Madeira Drive. If you lined up the two poles from the sea it meant ypu were over the cable, apparently. I can remember seeing the cable laying ship near the shore in the sixties. It was huge.

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Paul,

      Thank you for supplying this key historical information.

      On Google Earth, there is a BT van parked up outside, so although the building appears still in use, it is probably only local BT exchange now.

      Interesting that you say your brother visited in the ’60s. The building looks to be an original ’60s building, and perhaps then TAT-8 did not land there in 1988. You might think that TAT-8 would require a bigger, more modern building, commensurate with the cable’s importance and likely greater amount of terminal equipment, etc. Although, it may of course have terminated in the bunker, given the apparent floor area.

      Steve.

      Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Hi Paul,

      Good work. I didn’t consider multiple cables terminating here.

      The Tuckerton-Widemouth cable is probably a precursor to TAT-8 (the latter was commissioned in 1988 according to Wikipedia).

      There is a table here: http://shockwaves-control.co.uk/ebay/2013Y/2014-01-07_172527.jpg

      Source: http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=eSQNchowG7IC&pg=PA8&lpg=PA8&dq=tuckerton+widemouth&source=bl&ots=0ZE_Nmp8fu&sig=sCFr51zvZkRNiOtMZyc7Vo3muXs&hl=en&sa=X&ei=KTjMUr6zOpSthQejsYHQCw&ved=0CEAQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=tuckerton%20widemouth&f=false

      TAT-3 was in service from 1963 to 1986 (source: Wikipedia), so is a likely candidate.

      The Beaver Harbour-Widemouth cable is confirmed as CANTAT-2 (listed here http://atlantic-cable.com/Cableships/Alert/).

      Steve.

      Reply
  3. Dave

    Was in here very recently, 3 stories down 8″ thick vault style doors, covers pretty much whole plot seen in air shot, various emergency dig out routes to surface, new A/C plant being installed

    Basic command centre still visible

    Reply
  4. Ricky Chambers

    Hello Steve, I have been taking interest in the wealth of information you have on this site. I’m an art student based in London and the film i’m currently making muses on finance, in particular the high frequency trading made possible by hyper-speed submarine cables like Apollo North. I just wanted to pick your brains a little if thats ok. Is it known where the landing point is for the cables (TAT-14, Apollo, TAT-3) at Widemouth Bay or their location on the beach? who has ownership of these cables? Any information with regards to the Widemouth Bay/Bude data landfall would be very much appreciated.

    Kind Regards

    Ricky

    Reply
      1. John

        There is an article about it in the DM, I have been trying to find it (because I am bored) but no luck!

        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1196775/Web-trouble-The-hidden-cables-Cornish-beach-feeding-worlds-internet.html

        It makes several references to “North Cornwall” even though Widemouth Bay is in North Devon (more references than you would have thought if just a typo)

        Other notable parts:

        “the cable snakes through the hills behind to emerge through a nondescript hole beneath the floor of a surgically clean control room in an anonymous facility several miles away.

        “The only real access is provided by the sort of meandering back road that links one postage-stamp-sized village to another in these parts. But turn off at a small unmarked driveway leading to a farm and the clues start to appear.

        First is the sudden change in road surface – if you didn’t know what lies just half a mile away you might wonder why such a tiny and remote farm would have such a high-quality driveway lined with reflective bollards, each spaced with military precision and accuracy.

        Drive on and you’ll come to an innocuous wooden three-bar gate, quite in keeping with the rural surroundings. But if you know where to look, you will find a security-code pad tucked behind a nearby post, which opens the gate. Beyond is the dreary-looking building that houses Britain’s most powerful internet connection.”

        I am normally pretty good at finding things like this, it is frustrating me that I cannot.

        Reply
        1. adam

          Widemouth bay is actually in Cornwall, not devon. (although close to devon) there is still a large pole marking where the telephone cable goes out to sea, under the central car-park on the seafront.

          Reply
          1. Nathan

            Definitely North Cornwall i live nearby, and get to go in here regularly as an Openreach engineer it is now only a local 20CN BT exchange, However much of the hardware remains unused.

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  6. Ray

    Went down here as a boy as my father was the GPO / BT Executive Engineer in charge of the site. Very scary but fascinating at the same time for a young 12 yr old. Thick Nuclear Blast Doors into the underground level, Standby Generators, Air filtration systems, all that was missing was the constant bleep, bleep of a Geiger counter although I definitely remember a constant hum of cooling fans of the strowger/ crossbar/ electronic exchange – This was the at height of the cold war so important infrastructure like this was ‘hardened’ if not protected from a direct nuclear strike by the USSR. No doubt secure telephone lines from the UK government of the day could call Washington from their Bunker with some level of confidence that there call would be answered in the event that London was obliterated by a Russian ICBM. My dad traveled every day by motorbike to Widemouth Bay repeater Station from home and then came down to have tea with me and my brother after work at Salt House Beach in the Summer sunshine – Happy days growing up in North Cornwall 1962 – 1976. He retired in 1976. Place was facilitated by STC I think but definitely by the Americans.

    Reply

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