From My Archive I Choose…

T is for Telephone Exchange…

The first Automated Telephone Exchange in the UK, located in Epsom, opened for service on 18th May 1912. This post celebrates 100 years since that event. The first generation of automatic telephone exchanges utilised Strowger electro-mechanical switching equipment; of which later examples can be seen below in a photograph taken at Lords Telephone Exchange in the late 1980’s.

Strowger Equipment

Lords Telephone Exchange is a fairly standard example of a London telephone exchange building…

Lords Telephone Exchange

…I worked in the building between 1974 and 1992 when I moved onto other work in my never-ending tour of duty for BT. Located nowhere near the cricket ground of the same name, the building was originally known as Cunningham Telephone Exchange. The exchange was built in 1937 and at one time housed two local telephone exchange strowger units, a tandem exchange (used for routing of calls only), a manual exchange and a directory enquiries bureau. A new building was added at the back in the early 1970’s to house new TXE4 local units, the first of the new semi-electronic type to enter service in London. The curved building behind the main building is the staircase / fire escape for both and was often referred to as the conning tower because of its shape. The original building suffered a fire in the mid-1990’s. All the old equipment was removed from the main part of the building. Modern equipment to provide local telephone services is now housed in a fraction of the space required for the older equipment types and much of the building has been sold off to become offices and apartments.

Both of these photos can be found on the Geograph website along with many others taken by myself and other Geographers, all accurately located geographically and often with detailed descriptions. Please pop in there and take a look 🙂

From My Archive I Choose…

P is for Perpignan Station (Gare de Perpignan)

Perpignan Station
Why, you may ask?

…Because Salvador Dali declared Perpignan Station to be the Centre of the Universe, and who am I to argue with the great man whose tortured clocks gave visual expression to the gravitational distortion of space-time!

Talgo Express
The Catalan-Talgo providing a link through Dali’s Catalan homeland between Barcelona and Montpellier. Behind the train, the new station offices nearing completion in 2010, bring a rainbow of colours to the heat of a Catalan summer. I wonder if Dali would have approved?

Perpignan Station Trainshed
Inside the trainshed of Perpignan Station, passengers mill around. Dali reputedly had many of his greatest artistic inspirations sitting in the waiting room here. If he was right and Perpignan Station is the Centre of the Universe then one presumes that the lady is asking the station manager in which direction South lays – “Oui Madame, c’est cette voie”

A riot of colour at the south end of Perpignan station with a Train à Grande Vitesse standing in front of the new Station buildings.

Chef de Gare
Overseeing the timely departures beneath the trainshed, Perpignan’s Chef de Gare waits for the signal to give the right-away for a local service along the coast. A day out for us to the nearby port of Collioure – will have to find another challenge for those photos!

With the best will in the world, every railway has the occasional glitch. This empty stock working has just arrived late from the carriage sidings and is a single unit. Presumably it should have been formed of two units for, by the time it left, it was standing room only. I can almost hear the conversation…”Seulement trois entraîneurs aujourd’hui Jacques?” “Oui, L’autre train a échoué”

Crime D'Amour
So, was Dali right? Is Perpignan Station the Centre of the Universe? Or was his belief an infatuation… A Crime D’Amour?

why not have a go at the A-Z Archive Challenge too?

From My Archive I Choose…

O is for Oxford

Famed worldwide as the City of Dreaming Spires and possibly also as the home of Morse (the detective not the code), Oxford is a university city with some stunning architecture and a museum whose fame greatly exceeds its size. I could write a lot more but I think Kate Shrewsday’s City of Aquatint gives a wonderful description of a visit to the city and includes a nice selection of photos too 🙂

For those arriving by train, part of the walk into the city involves crossing over the Castle Mill Stream which in turn gives access to the towpath of The Oxford Canal. The Stream is not navigable and barges have to enter and leave the canal from the River Thames by way of Isis Lock. By the way, in Oxford the Thames is known as the Isis – you can read all about that on wikipedia if you really want to be confused 😉

Oxford Canal
Takara Leaving Isis lock on the Oxford Canal

The city centre is a bustling place and, in keeping with the numerous cash strapped students, has thousands of bicycles all over the place. In the view below we see lots of them parked up on the corner opposite The Martyrs’ Memorial. This ‘cross’ is a memorial to the Oxford Martyrs – Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley and Thomas Cranmer, who were tried for Heresy in 1555 and subsequently burned at the stake. The memorial was designed by George Gilbert Scott in 1838 and was completed in 1843. The statues of the three martyrs are by Henry Weekes.

The Martyrs Memorial
The Martyrs' Memorial with Bicycles

The Ashmolean Museum in the centre of the city is small by comparison with the likes of the Natural History, Science and Victoria & Albert in London. However it houses a fascinating collection of artifacts from all over the world and displays them in an engaging manner. My son particularly enjoyed the display of early musical instruments. The Bicycles are not part of the display although some of them look old enough to be museum pieces 😉

Ashmolean Museum
Ashmolean Museum

One of those buildings that is instantly recognisable is The Sheldonian Theatre on Broad Street. Designed by Christopher Wren, you won’t be able to watch Hamlet here – it only stages concerts, lectures and ceremonies! On the left is one of those sight-seeing tour buses that seem to crop up in most cities around the world these days. Apologies if it all looks a little weird – wide angle lens and  I couldn’t resist giving it a bit of HDR treatment

Sheldonian Theatre
The Sheldonian Theatre

An O within an O – Oriel Street, with its houses painted in pastel shades, leads down to Oriel Square and Oriel College from the High Street.

Oriel Street
Oriel Street

And, finally, if you thought you’d got away without a close-up of a bus… Another O within an O – A Setra of Ova Reisen. Many students visit Oxford on tours from Europe – This however is the ‘team bus’ of the St. Michael-Chorknaben from Schwäbisch Gmünd and presumably they were here to sing (Schwäbisch Gmünd is close to Aalen, Ova Reisen’s HQ). I loved the paint scheme on this coach and again decided that HDR might work well for the shot.

Ova Reisen
Ova Reisen Setra

Why not have a go at the A-Z Archive Challenge yourself!