A BT time capsule buried 58 years ago has been unearthed during redevelopment at the site of a former BT building.

The contents offer a fascinating insight into our telecoms technology of the era, and how far it has evolved.

Items inside the capsule include a 700-type telephone handset, a polythene-covered subscribers’ cable that reduced corrosion, a Telex-answerback unit that lessened the risk messages being misrouted and a 3000-type standard relay used in telephone exchanges of the era.

The brass capsule was buried on 20 October 1958 by Lord Mayor of London Sir Denis Truscott beneath the foundation stone of our Fleet Building in Islington, London.

Developers handed the capsule to Openreach, who passed it on to the BT archives team.

BT time capsule found

Joanna Smith, Openreach network manager, said: “The BT Fleet Building has been demolished to make way for a new occupier. We’ve been working with closely with the developers and were surprised and thrilled to hear the news about the time capsule.”

David Hay, BT’s head of heritage and archives, added: “We were delighted to receive the time capsule. We knew about the capsule and wondered whether it would turn up during the redevelopment.

“It’s great to have the capsule in the BT archives. The contents look as pristine as when they were put in it, probably because it was filled with nitrogen gas before being sealed. And they really bring home how far our technology has advanced in the past 58 years.”