Did you know telephones were first introduced into St. Lucia in 1896? In 1897, the Director of Public Works revealed that it had fifty subscribers and added: “The ultimate number will probably, not exceed 100.” True enough, until the 1960s, very few people in St. Lucia had telephones.
The Government- operated service was an archaic system, in which callers had to crank a handle to generate sufficient power to reach the telephone exchange, supply the telephone operator with a telephone number and wait to be connected. Outside of Castries, telephones were available only to a few upper-class households and the emergency services. Conversations had to be kept concise so as not to overload the system’s capacity.
In 1964, British-owned Cable & Wireless moved into the eastern Caribbean, including St. Lucia and set up a new an elaborate inter-island and international communications network with automatic telephone services.
In the 1990s, the system was digitized. However, Cable & Wireless’ 30-year monopoly ended in 2001. Then St. Lucia and the other territories allowed other telecom companies to operate and provide telecommunication services.
Source: A History of St. Lucia by Harmsen, Ellis & Devaux – 2012
This feature runs every Tuesday and Thursday. It is compiled by daughter of the soil Anselma Aimable, a former agricultural officer and former correspondent for Caribbean Net News, who has a deep interest in local culture and history. Send ideas and tips to [email protected]