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Old 12th Jul 2019, 11:57 am   #1
Pellseinydd
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Default End of an Era

It is 24 years ago today that the last public electro-mechanical exchange ceased in use in the UK public telephone network.

It was located on the UK's most remote inhabited island - Foula, population about 30 - way out in the Atlantic to the west of the Shetland Islands.

It was a tiny 20 line 'Island Automatic eXchange No 5' where the subscribers were still dialling two digits to reach each other until that day.

The exchange was connected to the rest of the BT network by a 32 mile lone 2GHz microwave link bit originally it had been a low-band VHF radio link using a 'rhombic' aerial mounted on top of four 70ft high telegraph poles. Exchange on the right with the microwave equipment in the middle and the 'Main Distribution Frame' was a Krone Box 301 on the wall on the left.

The exchange now survives in preservation.

An excerpt from the BBC Radio 4's programme 'The Secret Life of Telephone Numbers' broadcast about ten years ago can be heard on Lerwick (01595) 708222.
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Old 12th Jul 2019, 12:17 pm   #2
HamishBoxer
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Default Re: End of an Era

What a mess outside. Who has done that?
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Old 12th Jul 2019, 2:39 pm   #3
paulsherwin
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Default Re: End of an Era

To be fair, it looks as if the photo was taken in the middle of stripping everything out. Hopefully it wasn't just left like that.
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Old 12th Jul 2019, 2:47 pm   #4
Tim
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Default Re: End of an Era

I've just phoned that number. Wonderful! Thank you Pellseinydd.
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Old 12th Jul 2019, 3:18 pm   #5
Pellseinydd
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HamishBoxer View Post
What a mess outside. Who has done that?
There was no room inside the building! Building was about 8ft wide if that by 10 ft long (measurements outside) including a porch which severely reduced the size of the main room. It wasn't designed to hold an exchange - just the small Pye Pioneer radio set used to link to the mainland and the two cables that fed the houses . Pye Pioneer case was still on the wall on the left used to keep the paperwork in. You can see how small the inside was in the photo of the inside bearing in mind I took the photo from outside the entrance door - there wasn't room for three inside at once!

Wasn't left like that outside once we'd finished.. Note that the sheep wasn't part of the BT team - just nosey - seeing what was going on.
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Old 12th Jul 2019, 3:42 pm   #6
The Philpott
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Makes more sense now- at first sight the brain assumes that the little pieces of rock and stone are associated with the crates and toolboxes, and gives a total sense of disarray!

Was the car a hack used on the island, or did you manage to ferry it in?

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Old 12th Jul 2019, 4:03 pm   #7
Pellseinydd
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Originally Posted by The Philpott View Post
Makes more sense now- at first sight the brain assumes that the little pieces of rock and stone are associated with the crates and toolboxes, and gives a total sense of disarray!

Was the car a hack used on the island, or did you manage to ferry it in?

Dave
It was taken by tractor and trailer down to the little ferry where it was craned into the hold. Then I left Foula on the Saturday morning on the only ferry that day to the Mainland of Shetland where it was craned straight into the back of my Sierra estate. Then the journey home started arriving home late on Monday evening. A trip to Poland would have involved a shorter distance! You don't realise how big the UK is! Foula is nearer to Iceland than it is to my house!
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Old 12th Jul 2019, 4:31 pm   #8
Pellseinydd
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I've just phoned that number. Wonderful! Thank you Pellseinydd.
A similar recording from the same programme - about the UKs last single digit telephone number Rheinigidale 1 - can be found on Harris (01859) 598001 .

You'd be surprised how long it lasted out.
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Old 12th Jul 2019, 7:39 pm   #9
mark_in_manc
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Rhenigidale, a place you can stay in a nice, small independent hostel - I have, and I was the only one there! Go if you get a chance...
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Old 12th Jul 2019, 7:42 pm   #10
HamishBoxer
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No,it looked like it had been broken into so thank goodness for that.Did realise there there is not a lot of room inside.
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