THIS is Shildon’s telephone exchange, taken after a snowfall in January 1955, and kindly sent in by Maurice Cowley.

It was in a prominent position at No 21, Main Street. “Its large bay-windows looked directly towards the parish church of St John,” says Maurice. “The old Shildon Workman's Club and the police station were on the opposite side of Main Street.”

Two or three telephonists worked the switchboards during the day, and there was a night telephonist, who lived in the property, to handle the late night emergency calls.

“After closure of the exchange, this fine building disappeared leaving no trace, although the trees seem to be still there, only much larger,” says Maurice.

“I’ve always wanted to know who built this substantial house and when. Could it have been the Smithfield House belonging to the Iley family who featured in Memories 483?”

William Iley was a dentist who promised “teeth carefully extracted” on a colourful advertising poster from 1891. He ran a “cheap supply store” in Garbutt Road, and his dental surgery and home was at Smithfield House in Main Street.

Was the telephone exchange Mr Iley’s home?