Mrs Debbie Turner, School Archivist
In the 1890’s, a proposal by Sir Sanford Fleming, a Chief Engineer with the British Railways, was put to the Railways committee to lay a Trans Pacific Telegraph Cable across the railway network to connect Britain with its greater colonies, Canada and Australia.
Discussion ensued at the Colonial and Telegraphic Conference held in Brisbane in 1893 and the first positive step in the process began.
In 1896, the Pacific Cable Committee formed with representatives from Britain, Canada and Australia. The Committee decided that a survey for the proposed route and costings for the project be undertaken before they could move forward with the plan.
The survey began from Bamford, Vancouver in 1899 and the Imperial Government passed the Pacific Cable Act in late 1900, giving authorization for the construction of the cable link from Australia to Britain, via Canada.
The cable ship “Colonia” built for the project at a cost of one million pounds Sterling, began laying cable under the seabed from Vancouver Island, from there to Fanning Island, Suva, Norfolk Island and ending in Narrowneck, Southport.
The copper insulated cable extended from the beach dunes at Narrowneck, then under the river, reaching the newly built Pacific Cable Station Building in Bauer Street, Southport.
The Pacific Cable project, called the “All Red Route” because it only touched British Colonies, was completed by October 1902, covered over 7000 nautical miles of sea and cost over two million pounds.
The first telegraph message was transmitted from Vancouver on the 31st October, 1902 and opened to public traffic on the 9th December 1902.
Image below – the cable laying at Narrowneck in 1902.
In late 1901 the Commonwealth Government called for tenders to construct three buildings, including a building to house the cable and land lines, with facilities for staff, and two separate houses to accommodate the Cable and Land Line Superintendent.
In April 1902, the tender, awarded to E. Boyle, was to construct the wooden buildings for a sum of 4,574 pounds.
On the 3rd November, 1902, the Pacific Cable Building was officially opened in Southport by the Postmaster General of Australia, James Drake.
Bauer Street, Southport 1903
The Pacific Cable Station Building owned and ran by the Pacific Cable Board was in operation for 60 years with only one serious interruption in communications when the German Cruiser “Nurnberg” ran over the cable and cut it at Fanning Island during World War 2.
Inside the Pacific Cable Station Building
By October 1962, the new Commonwealth Pacific Cable System was in use, thus rendering the old copper insulated cable redundant, causing the closure of the Southport Cable System and the Pacific Cable Station building. In 1964, the Pacific Cable Station building was sold to the De La Salle brothers to accommodate a Community Youth Centre.
In the early 1980’s, the owners looked to redevelop the area and TSS was given two parts of the building in tribute to C.E. Goff (an employee of the Pacific Cable Company) in recognition of the close ties the Pacific Cable Board and Mr. Goff had with the School since 1901.
Mr. Goff was instrumental in starting sporting contests between the Pacific Cable staff and boys at the School. He also donated a Senior School Award, the C.E Goff Prize for Mathematics.
In September of 1982, the moving of the building from Bauer Street to TSS was completed in 12 parts. The structures were re-erected on the east side of the campus under the supervision of architect Ron Burling. The buildings were to be used as the De La Salle Music rooms.
Moving day in early 1982
In 1983, The Gold Coast Heritage Society gave TSS the John Herbert Award to help fund the restoration and upkeep of the building.
Image below – the Pacific Cable Station Building in 1983 with restoration complete.
On the 3rd May, 2007, the Queensland Heritage Society listed the Pacific Cable Station Building with the National Trust and declared it a Heritage Listed Building due to its significant cultural and architectural value in the evolution of Queensland.
The Pacific Cable Station Building is still in use today and has withstood the test of time, recently on the move again in 2019 to make way for the new Annand Theatre.
A new chapter will commence for the beloved building with the expansion of TSS Archive Museum once the Music Department completes its move to the new Annand Theatre in 2021.
Image below – Moving again in 2019 to its current position.
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