Help not required - inside a Telephone Exchange pictures

  Graham* 10:30 04 Dec 2011

For those who have never been in one, some interesting pictures of a Telephone Exchange

  robin_x 10:54 04 Dec 2011

The traditional distinctive buildings we see everywhere are very much changed inside.

I visited one a few years ago, on telecom related business. In spite of my knowledge, I was shocked to find the building almost completely empty, apart from the digital gear and the MDF.

All the Strowger switches gone of course.

I have just had a Google for what I could have seen. Didn't really find what I was looking for but found an interesting history of Redhill/Reigate.

It's a bit long. Scroll down and look at the piccies if you have a short attention span.


Strowger History

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 11:03 04 Dec 2011

What - no clunking and whirring?

Just the blinking LEDS and hum of cooling fans.

Think I preferred technology I could look at and understand

Must be turning into a Luddite in my old age


  onthelimit1 11:09 04 Dec 2011

Spent the first 8 yrs of my working life as a GPO engineer. 3 yrs of training in those days. I'm told that's down to 6 mths (but I stand to be corrected). Hated cleaning the Strowger switches (took about an hour for each one). Last few yrs in a repeater Station were much more straightforward.

  Graham* 11:24 04 Dec 2011

I was Clerk of Works in Exchanges for many years. The Strowger system couldn't really cope with the demand for new facilities, International Dialling, for instance. The complicated circuitry worked, but one small dirty contact would lock-out a section of the equipment and raise an alarm. Often the cause couldn't be found and the system was simply reset. The noise at busy times was deafening.

  onthelimit1 11:45 04 Dec 2011


that 'one small dirty contact' was probably because I was getting bored!

  Graham* 11:52 04 Dec 2011

That's TO's for you.

  spuds 12:29 04 Dec 2011

Having had some serious problems with my internet connection and later with the telephone itself, I ended up with daily communications with my service provider (TT) and BT exchange and OpenReach engineers.

Apparently components and cables were replaced at the exchange, plus home and outside lines were checked, and 'possible/suspect' faults were corrected. At the end of the day, it was reported "there is a fault, but its a fault that's not easily identifiable. Let us know if you have further problems, and we will again monitor the system". Since then problems have been very few, but it makes me wonder, with monitoring and modern technology, why the actual faults could not be traced, and it ended up like a guessing exercise?.

  onthelimit1 12:56 04 Dec 2011

'That's TO's for you'

Yup, that's what I was. Funny how after 40 yrs since doing the job, met someone in the pub who is a BT engineer. Ah, I said - if I say Blue Orange Green Brown Slate, you'll know what I'm talking about. He was quite surprised.

Why can I remember stuff from that time ago, but not what my wife told me yesterday!

  robin_x 13:17 04 Dec 2011

Spuds> One of my colleagues used to be ex-BT.

Although we supplied a lot of equipment to BT we didn't have a thorough picture of how the network acually worked. (we didn't need to for day to day business)

One day we all decided a seminar would be a good idea and roped our colleague into giving it.

Fascinating the amount of problems from the exchange to the customer.

From the ingenuity of cable thieves (a problem throughout the years) and countermeasures against them.

To dog pee and green boxes.

One of the big problems in the Local Loop apparently is on old wiring and water. Electrolysis erodes the copper so it is only 'just' connected.

A customer can have a fault fixed, but several other circuits may then have problems as they are disturbed.

The ex-engineers will know better. I was on the Fibre Optic side of supply.

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