MORE than 50 former telephonists reunited all together for the first time in more than 30 years.

Michelle Barker, who organised the reunion in Marks Tey, said: “Some had worked at the telephone exchange since the 1960s. Colchester telephone was a purpose built telephone centre built in West Stockwell Street in the 1960s, it closed in 1990 and is now a block of flats.

“The exchange housed the automatic telephone exchange which was manned by telephonists, there was also an engineering centre and some clerical offices.

“Telephonists dealt with calls from the public who dialled 100 for help with calls, 192 for directory enquiries, 191 for fault reporting and 999 emergency calls.

“Operators over the years saw changes from paper directories, through to microfiche and finally computers. The switchboards were operated manually by cords right up until the end.

“The switchboards were manned 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by day and night staff.

“West Stockwell Street, for many years, housed the telephone exchange, telephone house, sales, accounts and business.”

Telephonists who worked at the exchange in 1990 were made all redundant when it closed.

Michelle added: “While some have remained friends and in contact over the years, for others the reunion was the first meeting since 1990, over 30 years.”

Denise Lefley, one of the former staff who attended the reunion, added: “It was so amazing to see everyone coming together after so many years.

“Memories I didn’t even realise I’d forgotten were shared. The exchange was a unique place to work, it certainly had it’s fair share of characters.”

Former colleague Jackie Exley said: “ It seemed like yesterday chatting and laughing with old friends.”

Julie Mutch said: “I feel privileged and grateful to have worked and partied with you all. So many wonderful memories.”