Porth Curno, 2 km from Land’s End and 16 km from the town of Penzance was, from 1870, the landing point for the cables that linked Britain with Spain, Portugal, Africa, the Mediterranean and more distant parts of the Empire. The first, linking England with Portugal, was laid in 1870 under the direction of Sir John Pender (1815-96), the pioneer of trans-oceanic cable communications. The installations were extended as new cable were laid, and a new station building was constructed in 1909, by which time a school had been established for training telegraph operators. A platoon of infantry was sufficient to protect the establishment during the First World War, but the threat of air attack or sea-born raids made it necessary in 1940-41 to re-locate most of the equipment in two tunnels each 46 m long, 8 m wide and 7 m high, excavated by Cornish tin miners.
Changes in communications technology brought about the closure of the station at the end of 1970, although the training school remained there until 1993. Parts of Zodiac House, the original station building were demolished, and parts adapted as holiday apartments, as was the superintendent’s house. The museum run by the Porth Curno Trust, established in 1997, has its offices, gallery and shop in the station buildings of 1909. The highlight of a visit to the museum is to enter the two wartime tunnels which retain their equipment.