The Last Exchange

The last surviving telephone switchboard inside an otherwise empty office building in an industrial region near Chester. Manual switchboards required the operator (almost always a woman due to certain training schemes) to oversee call connections which would be automatically answered immediately as they inserted the answering cord, and ringing would begin as soon as the operator inserted the ringing cord into the called party's jack. Once the call had ended, the operator would be disconnected from the circuit, allowing her to handle another call on that line. Telephone exchanges were once bustling high rise offices with staff often having to sport roller skates in order to traverse them quickly enough to provide a timely service. My Grandma worked on one of these switchboards in her younger years so it was nice to get to see one of these relics left behind and realise what it once took to make what we now perceive as something so primitive. The majority of these exchanges became obsolete after converting to automatic systems beginning in the 1970's.