50 years ago: Brac Cable & Wireless exchange opens

In the March 15, 1967 edition of the Caymanian Weekly, a precursor of the Cayman Compass, Brac correspondent Lilian Ritch wrote:

“The local system of Cable & Wireless (W.I.) Ltd. Telephone Communications was officially opened on the afternoon of Friday 10th.

“Mr. Burnard Tibbetts, technician 1/c, addressed the audience first:

“‘I am happy to see this become a reality after waiting so long. My one regret is that everybody cannot be supplied. It is great to have a part and lot in this scheme which will really make a difference to the future of our islands.’

“Mr. Wentworth Bodden, Postmaster General for the Cayman Islands, officially opened the system. First addressing the gathering, he brought an apology for the absence of His Honour the Administrator who had to be busy with officials arriving in Grand Cayman and had asked him to come over.

“‘In developing countries, communications and telecommunications are a big part that we may not be cut off from the outside world. Although only a portion of the system is operational, it must mean a great deal to the island and we hope that in the not too distant future, the three islands will be connected and we will have our own international links …. The system is temporary until the Tropospheric Scatter System is in operation.’

“He thanked the audience for coming on such short notice, adding that there will be a more formal function to mark the opening as a whole, when the organisation of the system is completed.

“‘I have very much pleasure in declaring the system internally in Cayman Brac open, and would like to make a call to the District Commissioner in office – #222.’

“Over the wires he said: ‘Hello Dennis, Wentworth here. I have just opened the internal system in the exchange and am making the first call to you …. The Marconi engineers are in Jamaica now … are coming here …. In another six to eight weeks the system will be in full swing …. It has been a pleasure to be here …. Wish you luck over these phones.’

“Mr. R.W. Tidde, manager of C&W, accompanied Mr. Bodden to see the system officially opened and to discuss the telephone developments in Cayman Brac and Little Cayman with the District Commissioner and Mr. Tibbetts, technician.

“There are 24 connected subscribers at this time, a total of 46 will be connected within the next four weeks. Little Cayman is a subscriber. On the Brac there are to be four public telephones.”

Housed in small weatherproof booths, they will be at Spot Bay, Creek (by the warehouse) and the airport, which is now operational. One temporarily connected at the exchange will be connected eventually at the Post Office, Stake Bay.

“It is hoped that a new directory will be printed in time for the opening of the Tropospheric Scatter System which will link the three islands together and with the rest of the world.

“A little chat with linesman Hinton Connolly completes this report.

“‘This month is one year since I started working with C&W and I must say I have enjoyed every minute of it, and I want to carry on the good work as long as I can.’

“Cayman Brac is humbly proud of her sons of the soil who are among the foundation staff.”

In the same issue, Ms. Ritch also noted:

“PTA meetings were held in all the schools during the last fortnight.

“The first meeting of parents and teachers of the Sec. Mod School was held on the 2nd. Due to transportation difficulty the eastern half of the island was poorly represented. For this reason, election of officers to properly constitute an Association was deferred.”

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