Formerly known as the Ministry of Information the C.O.I was located in Lambeth SE1. During the period 1940’s until 31st March 1983 the Telegraph Room of the C.O.I. was staffed by Telegraphists and Supervisors provided by International Telegraphs (both in it’s Post Office and British Telecom International guise).
Work in the Telegraph Room was to transmit Government information, texts of Parliamentary debates and other official traffic to Embassies and High Commissions around the world. The work required great accuracy and flexibility from operators and supervision. The printing of hard copy for follow up distribution was also the remit of the operating staff.
The work was obviously very interesting and great trust was placed on the operators to respect the confidentiality of the traffic handled. Co-operation between other Government departments, such as the Diplomatic Wireless Service, was maintained.
During the Falklands Crisis in 1982 the Telegraph Room was placed under great pressure with record amounts of traffic being handled. The staff received several commendations from the head of the C.O.I and No 10 for their dedicated work.
However, despite the long association and hard work the functions of the Telegraph Room were put out to tender in 1983 and the operation was “Privatised” in the relentless pursuit of savings.
I was the Supervisor on the last shift during the night of Thursday the 31st of March 1983. I quote the last lines of my report to the COI Telegraph Manager, leiut/Commander Keith Miller…”The steady file was well maintained and cleared during the silent hours. Goodbye and God Bless” Terry Hogsden TE’C.
Staff and Supervision were scattered to various remaining offices of International Telegraphs and the long connection with the C.O.I was sadly severed.