Engaging with Communications

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Connected Earth

Connected Earth was originally founded by BT in 2001 and grew from the company’s solution to discharge its commitment responsibly to the UK’s telecommunications heritage. By working with respected institutional partners and adopting modern communications technology the UK’s telecommunications heritage is both assured for future generations and increasingly accessible.

Heritage artefacts were physically dispersed to Connected Earth partners and other institutions as appropriate creating a consolidated national collection of communications with a presence in most UK regions, and brought together online through virtual galleries, searchable catalogues and educational resources on its website. The initial and subsequent dispersals, online development and hosting, marketing activities and management of the network of partners were funded by BT for 10 years.

By 2012 the original strategy and objectives of the BT funded Connected Earth programme had been achieved. A new strategy and structure was needed going forward and hence, Connected Earth has been re-formed as a specialist network of equal members in May 2014. In so doing, a new constitution was agreed and the membership expanded.

The vision for the newly constituted Connected Earth – The Communications Heritage Subject Specialist Network - is stated as:

A sustainable subject specialist network that preserves communications heritage and seeks to make such heritage accessible to as many people as possible.

The aim of the network is to:

Promote care, access to, and enjoyment of communications collections and archives. Through research, stewardship and advocacy, the network will encourage wider enjoyment and knowledge of communications heritage across the UK.

A more detailed description of Connected Earth, its origins and future plans, can be read in this paper which was published in 2014 by the Institute of Telecommunications Professionals in Volume 8 of their Journal.

The Connected Earth Partnership

Partner Location Focus
Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre Arundel An open air museum site dedicated to the industrial heritage of the south-east. The Connected Earth Hall focuses on the public face of telecommunications using rare exhibits and hands-on displays.
Avoncroft Museum of Historic Buildings Bromsgrove England’s first open-air museum that preserves buildings and structures. It is home to the National Telephone Kiosk Collection, featuring an example of every type of GPO/BT kiosk from 1921 to the present day.
Bawdsey Radar Felixstowe A museum based around the unique radar transmitter block at Bawdsey that explains how radar was developed and the central role that Bawdsey and radar played in saving the UK during the Battle of Britain.
BT Archives London BT Archives conserves and makes accessible BT’s heritage, going all the way back to 1846. We document and preserve the story of the world's oldest communications company. All the records we produced before privatisation in 1984 are public records. BT Archives has been appointed an "official place of deposit for public records" by the Lord Chancellor and approved by The National Archives National Advisory Services as meeting their standards for archives repositories. We also act as the corporate memory for the BT Group, retaining vital historical information to benefit the company.
Milton Keynes Museum Wolverton The museum follows the history of the Milton Keynes area, including North Buckinghamshire and South Northamptonshire, from 1800 to the present day. The Telephone Museum explains the significance of "switching" (how calls and data finds its way through the telecommunications network), engineering and transmission (how information is physically moved through the network) using artefacts collected from the Milton Keynes area and further afield.
Museum of Science and Industry Manchester Exploring Manchester's role as the first industrial city, where science met industry and the modern world began. The Connecting Manchester Gallery tells the story of the development of communications in the Manchester region.
Museum of London London The Museum of London is one of the world’s largest urban history museums and tells the story of London and its people from prehistoric times to the present day. The role of telecommunications is told through artefacts located within the Galleries of Modern London
National Museums Scotland Edinburgh The National Museum of Scotland covers science and art to nature and outer space, examining the role and influence of Scotland. The Communicate gallery tells the story of human communication - from the drums of Papua New Guinea to Scottish pioneer Alexander Graham Bell, right up to mobile technology and beyond.
Science Museum London The Science Museum Group is one of the world’s leading museums of science, technology, industry and medicine. The Information Age gallery celebrates 200 years of innovation in communication and information technologies through six networks covering: The Cable, The Telephone Exchange, Broadcast, The Constellation, The Cell and The Web.
Telegraph Museum Porthcurno Porthcurno Porthcurno was the largest cable station in the world and is now a museum that tells the story of how undersea cables and wireless technology connected the planet.
The Institute of Telecommunications Professionals Sunbury-on-Thames The Institute of Telecommunications Professionals (ITP) is the UK’s leading independent institution for people who work in telecommunications. It was formed in 1906, when telecommunications was seen as a new industry. Formerly known as the Institute of Post Office Engineers (IPOEE) and the Institution of British Telecom Engineers (IBTE), the ITP has thousands of members, representing in excess of 50 organisations across the UK and worldwide. It has been the professional voice of telecoms for more than a century.
The Institution of Engineering and Technology London Originally formed as The Society of Telegraph Engineers on 17 May 1871, the IET has evolved to become one of the world’s largest engineering institutions with an extensive and unique archive. Today its disciplinarity reflects the increasingly diverse nature of engineering in the 21st century.
University of Salford Salford A UK university involved in education, outreach and research, all related to telecommunications, its future and heritage. The University maintains a large collection of telecommunications artefacts which are made available through this website and public facing activities.