'It's a good time capsule' - Telephone exchange to open up for first time in 50 years

A unique piece of communications history will be on show for visitors 

A unique piece of communications history will be on show for visitors - Credit: The Art Station/Emily Richardson

Visitors to a Suffolk town will be able to view a piece of communication history when it opens up for the first time in 50 years. 

Saxmundham's former telephone exchange will be open later this month for guests to take a step back in time.

The building's current occupants, The Art Station, have partnered with Saxmundham Museum and BT to celebrate its unique history. 

Built in the 1950s, the building was designed by Thomas Winterburn, one of the ten post office architects associated with the Festival of Britain movement.

The telephone exchange used to be a key employer in Saxmundham

The telephone exchange used to be a key employer in Saxmundham - Credit: Emily Richardson

The site remained in operation as a telephone exchange and post office for many years and employed up to 50 people at the height of it's operation. 


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It closed for good in the 1970s.

The Art Station now uses part of the building for local creatives bringing in art studios, hot desking space and exhibition areas. 

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Later this month,  the original exchange rooms and equipment used by staff will be opened up to the public for the first time alongside contextual archival materials and artefacts. 

Digital artist Henry Driver will be exhibiting works in the exchange as well as creating a new piece in response to the unique space and the developing technology of communication.

An oral history project, conducted by local historian Belinda Moore, will also tell the stories of the people who worked in the building. 

Verity Slade, from The Art Station, said the space was unlike any other. 

The telephone exchange will be open to visitors this month

The telephone exchange will be open to visitors this month - Credit: Emily Richardson

"I have never seen anything like it," she said. 

"It's a really interesting bit of equipment and there are lots of artefacts left in the space."

Miss Slade that the room had been incredibly well preserved. 

"It seems a bit post-apocalyptic; there's still folders in desk drawers," she said. 

"It's a good time capsule."

The building's opening coincides with the Heritage Open Days event 2021, which sees heritage buildings across the county open their doors to the public. 

The telephone exchange will be open from 12-4pm on Saturday, September 18 and 25. 

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