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Telephone Exchange, Oxford

Volume 415: debated on Thursday 1 November 1945

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asked the Assistant Postmaster-General for how many years his Department has been negotiating for a site for a new telephone exchange at Oxford; whether one has now been obtained and its position; how long it will be before the building can be started and when it is anticipated it will be completed; whether he will compare the capacity of the present exchange with the proposed completed new building; and whether this will enable sufficient lines for the Cowley and Iffley districts and an efficient trunk service at Oxford.

Search for a site for a new telephone exchange at Oxford was begun in 1937. Compulsory powers to purchase a site in St. Aldates, near Folly Bridge, were obtained in the Post Office Sites Act, 1938. Difficulties arose with regard to town planning requirements, but it has now been agreed with the Corporation that the erection of the new telephone exchange should proceed on the St. Aldates site. It is hoped that it will be practicable to start building in about twelve months' time, and to equip and bring the new exchange into service about three years later.The new building will have initial capacity for 7,100 lines. The capacity of the existing building is 4,900 lines, and there are 3,400 lines working at present. The Cowley and Iffley districts are served by a separate exchange at Cowley (although Oxford numbers are used) on which there is an adequate margin of spare capacity. The delay in connecting additional lines to this exchange arises from shortage of underground plant.An improvement in the trunk service at Oxford is in no way dependent on the provision of the new exchange; the present trouble is due entirely to shortage of staff. Special steps have been taken to obtain recruits but there has been little response until recently, though the prospects are now improving.