A ‘museum of global communications’. Sounds boring, right? Wrong. PK Porthcurno – The Museum of Global Communications is anything but boring. When it comes to the past, present and future of communications, it’s positively fascinating.
Porthcurno, a coastal village on Cornwall’s westernmost tip, is well-known for its golden Porthcurno Beach. It’s perhaps not as well known for its comms history and its international submarine communications cable station. This all started back in the early 1870s with the first telegraph cables being laid out from Porthcurno and stretching across the globe all the way to India.
In 1872, a concrete cable hut was built in the village which acted as an office for telegraph companies until 1970 – and this listed building can still be explored by visitors today. What else is still here today are all those cables under the ground that have been carrying messages across the world for more than 150 years.
So, Porthcurno is no sleepy spot. It’s been a hub of communications for a century and a half. And it telegraphs all of this history at PK Porthcurno for young and old alike. PK – which is Porthcurno’s representation in Morse code – is an award-winning museum that invites visitors to explore interactive communications exhibitions, see live demonstrations, enjoy regular talks and take part in family-friendly activities. It all happens in Eastern House, which was opened in 1904 and served as the centre of communications for many years.
Aside from your tour of the museum and a trip to the nearby Cable Hut, also on the cards during a visit to PK Porthcurno are underground Second World War tunnels and a ‘secret bunker’ that can be explored. This bunker actually hid the telegraph station during the conflict and you can imagine what it would have been like to have been a local working in there trying to keep the message operations going as the bombs dropped. Also look out for the secret escape tunnel here, as well as the automated relay system and wireless room. The Café PK, which serves up pasties and cakes, and a shop complete the PK Porthcurno experience. So, yeah – the history of this village’s role as a hub of global communications is boring, eh? Far from it. You need to visit and learn all about it. Got the message yet?