Take the kids to… Telegraph Museum, Porthcurno, Cornwall | Travel

In a nutshell

In 1870, the tiny seaside village of Porthcurno in Cornwall was the most connected place on the planet. It all started with a single cable that was laid under the beach and out to sea. Suddenly it became possible to send messages from Porthcurno to Mumbai within a minute. This place was the hub of global communication, linking Britain with the rest of the world.

This award-winning museum is extremely family-focussed and has masses of hands-on science exhibits, games and interactive installations. Even more exciting are the secret underground tunnels, hidden behind bomb-proof doors, and the trails with codes to crack. The museum also has an unexploded bomb on site, dropped on the telegraph station by the Luftwaffe.

Fun fact

It takes 0.000006 of a second to send a Harry Potter book along a fibre optic cable. It would take 74 days to send the same book via telegraph cable.

Children play with vintage technology at the museum. Photograph: Sophia Milligan

Best thing(s) about it

Getting the kids to imagine life without computers or mobile phones. We had enormous fun dressing up as 1940s telegraph engineers, spinning a wheel to discover where in the world we were being sent to and packing a suitcase appropriately. The kids were wide-eyed when we discovered that the youngest telegraph worker was only 14 when he trained at Porthcurno and by 15 had been sent to Malta alone to work.

Put on a hard hat, and climb the escape stairs to the viewing platform to enjoy spectacular views high above Porthcurno valley. To top it all, one of the best beaches in Cornwall is just a five-minute walk away.

What about lunch?

The museum cafe serves a small selection of freshly-made hot meals, such as lamb tagine or stew (from £6.50), soup (£4.70) and sandwiches (from £4.50). Kids sandwiches start at £2.20, homemade cakes and cream teas at £2. Alternatively, the nearby beach is perfect for a picnic.

Exit through the gift shop?

The shop is beside the exit with a thoughtful selection of vintage-style toys, local crafts and ceramics, homeware, jewellery and books. Prices range from 60p for pocket-money toys through to authentic pieces of telegraph cable from £35 to £150. Particularly fun are the locally hand-knitted 1940s style accessories (from £2). You can send an actual telegram from here too.

A family rest on a bench in the garden at Porthcurno Telegraph Museum, Porthcurno, Cornwall, England, United Kingdom.

Photograph: Alamy

Getting there

It’s at the tip of the country, 3½ miles from Land’s End. The nearest train station is Penzance; from there First Kernow operates a regular Penzance to Land’s End bus service, which stops at the museum’s doorstep.

Value for money?

Absolutely. We spent four hours here and the time flew by. Entry is £8.50 for adults and £5 for children (under 5s free). A family ticket (2 adults and 3 children) is £23.50. Gift aid your ticket and you get free admission for a year.

Opening hours

Open daily 10am-5pm from 1 April to 31 October (last admission 4pm). Frrom 1 November-31 March the museum is open 11am-4.30pm, Saturday, Sunday and Monday only.


10/10. We all loved it and will definitely be going back.


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