- Corporate body
The Western Union Telegraph Company (Western Union) was set up in New York in 1851 to construct a telegraph line between St. Louis and Buffalo, New York. Western Union built extensive telegraph lines throughout the United States. In 1910, it set up a cable station at Bay Roberts and contracted with Telcon for the installation of a cable between Hamel, New York and Penzance, England. The first Bay Roberts cable station was a wooden structure on Church Hill. Today, it is a family residence. The structure served the company until a large brick building was completed on Water Street in the spring of 1914. Even from the early days, the operation of cables at Bay Roberts was semi- automatic, and this feature was gradually developed until sometime prior to World War II when the operation of the station became completely automatic, and all the messages passed through Bay Roberts without being touched by human hands. In 1926, Western Union laid “loaded” cables from England to Bay Roberts and from Bay Roberts to New York. In 1928, they laid a “duplexable” loaded cable between Bay Roberts and Horta in the Azores. It is estimated that Bay Roberts provided 75% of the desperately needed North Atlantic cable service given during World War II. Prime Minister Churchill and President Roosevelt had their own private line through this station. There was also a private line between Ottawa and the Canadian Command in Europe.
More than 30 people were employed at the Bay Roberts station at the height of its activity. By 1957, the number of staff was fewer than 20. The last superintendent was Chester Smith who was in charge of the operation when it closed down in 1960 and the building closed out in 1963.