Hoe Street Telephone Exchange

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I’ve fallen under the spell of the old Telephone Exchange on Hoe Street, Walthamstow. Out for a wander the other day it drew me across the road, compelling me to sit on the front step for a while, momentarily slipping outside of the ‘other’ world into its strange orbit.

Built in 1956 it belongs to the world of The Quatermass Experiment and The Goon Show. A post-war world of technological progress, decaying Empires, buzz cuts. It would make the perfect Headquarters for the National Institute of Applied Psychogeography.

For now though it appears to still function as telephone exchange pushing high-speed broadband into Walthamstow homes delivering online multi-player games and on-demand TV.

Old time Hounslow Heath

Hounslow Heath

‘You can pass through Hounslow today and not notice the Heath, reduced as it is to just over 200 acres, roughly a third of the size of the Square Mile of the City of London. But in the 17th century it was a vast and dangerous waste on the western edge of London spanning over 6,000 acres. ‘Time was when the heath seemed illimitable, stretching north and south across the old Bath Road far out towards the horizon,’ Bell tells us. To head west out of London towards Bath and Bristol meant a hazardous journey across this land that was so infested with highwaymen and footpads it was dubbed the most dangerous place in Britain.

This Other London, p.2