This web site is to remember Post Office and BT services and people who provided these services from the 1950's to the 1980's


Fleet Building


Fleet Building in Farringdon, was named after the subterranean River Fleet which runs beneath the front of the building, and was opened in 1961, purpose-built to house what was then known as the Central Telegraph Office.

At that time it was both London's largest telephone exchange and also the largest building to be built for the Post Office since the Second World War. The installation of a Telex exchange was already underway when the  building was officially opened.

It was part of a large office complex, surrounded by four roads, with one entrance on Shoe Lane, and the other on Farringdon Street. It gradually declined in importance as a telephone exchange, and became Britain's major international Telex exchange – acting as a hub for worldwide communications. There were once 600 staff employed in the building, and at its peak it was handling around 25,000 telegrams and Telexes a day, with a capacity for 12,000 subscriber lines.

In later years, the Inland Telegraph Service was also based in Fleet and, under the banner of British Telecom, both exchanges continued to operate but, with the gradual decline of Telex traffic following the advent of computerised messaging, the building eventually closed down in 1999.

It has sadly stood derelict until fairly recently, when it was purchased by the financial giant Goldman Sachs. Now - in 2015 - it's nothing more than a great big hole in the ground but the site will eventually house the European head office of Goldman Sachs.

Nine ceramic murals (by artist Dorothy Annan) showing various depictions of telecommunications technology were situated on the outside front wall of the building in Farringdon Street, but these have now been removed. They were granted Grade II listed status by the Department for Culture Media and Sport and are considered to have historic interest to the telecoms industry.

They are now owned by the City of London and have been relocated to an elevated walkway on the Barbican Estate. Goldman Sachs has set up a £100,000 fund to provide for future maintenance and repair of the murals.

A very posh bar/restaurant opposite the Shoe Lane entrance is now called 'The Last' but once upon a time it was 'The Two Brewers' - a busy and popular pub with an enormous round bar. It was patronised by the staff of Fleet Building and by the workers from the Daily Mirror and Daily Express, which were just around the corner in Fleet Street.

As the International Telex Exchange wound down, the Message Relay Centre (MRC) and the Overseas Telecommunications Relay Centre (OTRU) as well as Keybridge House, were built up, and these centres were staffed mostly by operators from Fleet. Eventually, of course, everyone left 'Intelex' and a great chapter in the working lives of most of the people who worked there became a memory .... but a very pleasant one.


All photo’s and text about Fleet Building are thanks to Brian Peackock ex. OTO1 at Electra House and Fleet.

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