Sunday, August 1, 2010

Former Devonport Automatic Telephone Exchange building

I don't know enough about this, one of my favourite buildings on the North Shore. This may be the telephone exchange built in 1902, according to North Shore Library's "Local History Online". Archives New Zealand hold records of a major tender let for work on the Automatic Exchange in 1964, so there have been changes, but -- the fa├žade is wonderfully detailed with the paintwork, and certainly looks Edwardian.

Update 26 October 2013: A site was obtained for an automatic telephone exchange at Devonport for £730 in 1917. (NZ Herald 12 October 1917) Tenders were called for in 1919 by G T Murray, district engineer, Public Works Office in Auckland (NZ Herald 4 August 1919).

Tenders for the erection of automatic telephone exchange buildings in brick, at Takapuna and at Devonport, are being called for by the Public Works Department. It will be some time, however, before the exchanges will be in operation, for the exchange buildings in the city (already erected) will be fitted out first by the Post and Telegraph Department. The Xakapuna, Devonport, and Onehunga exchanges will be satellite exchanges to the city exchanges. The site of the Takapuna exchange is in Earnoch Avenue, and the Devonport exchange is in Clarence Street.

Auckland Star 8 August 1919

£1800 was allowed in estimates to build the exchange (NZ Herald 24 October 1919) but there had been still nothing constructed at Clarence Street when, in 1922, new estimates allowed for £1500 for the building. (NZH 30 January 1922). By the following year, it was completed. So the building is younger than the references available via Local History Online have as listed. This is probably due to confusion between the building of the automatic exchange, and an earlier manual exchange attached to Devonport's Post Office from c.1906.


  1. Lovely facade, and the bakery/cafe is almost sympathetic to the whole shop, rather than a music or hairdressers would be, if you get my drift?

  2. Aye. It fits in beautifully. Food's not half bad in there, either.

  3. My father worked at the Devonport Telephone Exchange 1942-1957 and became office in charge. The most notable thing I remember beyond the mechanical noise of connections being made, was our telephone number. All numbers on the North Shore were at that time 5 digits, starting with 70, 71 and 72. But ours was the exception; 44-807. If the Shore phones went down it was likely that the cable across the Waitemata Harbour from Auckland City was damaged; perhaps a ship dragged its anchor. My Dad would get a call on his Auckland City number and he would get on his bike, down to the Devonport exchange and would bring the spare cable to life.
    Grahame Walton