Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 143,345 pages of information and 230,027 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.
William Thomas Henley (1814-1882) was a pioneer in the manufacture of telegraph cables. He designed and built a wire covering machine which is now in the London Science Museum.
1830 Henley moved to London, working as a labourer in the docks. In his spare time he taught himself instrument making. He undertook work for a number of people, including Charles Wheatstone.
1845 When the Electric Telegraph Co was set up using the Cooke and Wheatstone telegraph, Henley supplied the telegraph instruments.
As the business developed Henley moved from Whitechapel to Clerkenwell.
1850s substantial land telegraph links existed in many countries and future growth depended to a large degree on linking the land networks by submarine telegraph cable, which unleashed an explosion in demand for the cable making industry.
Henley moved the business again to Enderby's Wharf at Greenwich, taking over the premises of Enderby’s Hemp Rope Works and began manufacturing cables. Henley shared the factory with Glass, Elliot and Co.
1857 Disputes soon arose between the two competitors so, after a few months, Henley moved again, this time to the opposite side of the Thames at North Woolwich.
Henley purchased his core from the Gutta Percha Co or William Hooper's company. The first order received was to link Ceylon and India. Hooper supplied the core and Henley added the armouring. This was followed by an order from the Spanish Government to link Ceuta and Algeciras. He also received many sub-contract orders from the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Co.
1865 Henley manufactured the shore ends of the second Transatlantic cable.
1882 William Thomas Henley died on the 13th of December at the age of sixty nine.
Henley's company continued making submarine cables until the turn of the century.
1882 Obituary