Any new technology needs thorough testing and Epsom played host to one of Britain’s biggest trials in communication back in 1912.
BT’s predecessor, the General Post Office, needed the perfect area to test its new automatic telephone exchange, which meant people could dial numbers without going through to an operator. Find out why Epsom was selected in the video below.
Epsom was perfect because of the surge in calls during race days - but also because of its proximity to central London for any technical and administrative support needed.
Epsom used two-wire exchange equipment called Stowger, which later became the UK standard. The exchange could handle some 500 lines without having to speak to an operator first.
However, Epsom didn’t stay automatic, as new customers exhausted the equipment’s capacity by 1932 and the only economic replacement that could be considered at the time was going back to manual.