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Report - TAT-1 Trans-Atlantic Telephone building, Oban, Aug 2016


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TAT-1 (Transatlantic No. 1) was the first submarine transatlantic telephone system. It was laid between Oban, Scotland and Clairnville, Newfoundland. Two cables were laid between 1955 and 1956 with one cable for each direction. It was inaugurated on September 25, 1956. The cable was able to carry 35 simultaneous telephone calls. A 36th channel was used to carry up to 22 telegraph lines

Opened on September 25, 1956, TAT-1 carried 588 London-US calls and 119 London-Canada calls in the first 24 hours of public service.

TAT-1 carried the Moscow - Washington hotline between the American and Soviet heads of state, although using a teleprinter rather than voice calls as written communications were regarded as less likely to be misinterpreted. The link became operational on 13 July 1963 and was principally motivated as a result of the Cuban Missile Crisis where it took the US, for example, nearly 12 hours to receive and decode the initial settlement message that contained approx. 3,000 words. By the time the message was decoded and interpreted, and an answer had been prepared, another–more aggressive—message had been received
I've wanted to see this for many years and as we were planning to spend the night in Oban I thought I'd make the effort to find it.

I'm a big fan of 50's 60's GPO architecture at the best of times but couple it with a stunning location and it makes quite a sight.
It looks like anything of real scrap value was removed from the building after closure and since then the estate which now owns the building has used parts of it for agricultural storage, but on the most part it has just been left to slowly decay. There was enough left inside to get an idea of what the rooms were used for, and it was good to see some retro kitchen and bathroom epic, all slowly rusting away.

The little detail I enjoyed seeing most was the remaining clock, once part of a trio with little perspex labels underneath "G.M.T", "Cornerbrook", "Montreal". Even the clock had a tiny "G.P.O" livery on the face.

All in all epic building in an epic location. I'd say there are few work places in Britain which have had a more beautiful view! Saying that, I bet it was bloody freezing in there in the winter!
















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I'm sad we never got a glimpse of the House that all those grounds lead to!