Jura phone arte­fact goes on dis­play

The Oban Times - - NEWS -

A MAN­UAL tele­phone ex­change used on Jura from the late 1940s to the mid-1970s is among more than 3,000 ob­jects go­ing on dis­play at the Na­tional Mu­seum of Scot­land in Ed­in­burgh as part of the open­ing of 10 new gal­leries within the mu­seum.

From 1949 un­til 1974, Effie Macdougall was the only tele­phone op­er­a­tor for Jura. Effie ran the Jura ex­change from the main room in her house, con­nect­ing calls made to or from the is­land or be­tween sub­scribers on Jura.

At first, with only 20 sub­scribers, Effie was on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. Her par­rot, Patsy, kept her com­pany from its cage on top of the ex­change. As well as speak­ing Gaelic, Patsy reg­u­larly used op­er­a­tor phrases such as ‘num­ber please’, ‘ hold on’ and ‘ you are through’.

The man­ual ex­change was re­placed by an au­to­matic sys­tem in 1974. The last call in the UK con­nected through a man­ual ex­change was made on the is­land of Skye in Oc­to­ber 1976.

The 10 new gal­leries are open­ing fol­low­ing a £14.1 mil­lion re­de­vel­op­ment in the Na­tional Mu­seum of Scot­land’s 150th an­niver­sary year.

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