Anyone interested in the history and development of telephony in the Netherlands will find what they are looking for in the Houweling Telecom Museum in Rotterdam North, as this is where the only relevant telephone museum is housed. The museum gives visitors a picture of telecommunications from its inception until the year 2000. Intended as a telephone exchange for Rotterdam North, in a functional building from 1923, enclosed between residential blocks and some other utilities, the museum still has sixteen working telephone exchanges. With the help of volunteers and former telecommuters, the history of telephony is kept alive and interested parties get a glimpse into the technology of the last century. The telephones in the museum evoke memories for the older visitors about the time when dialling in numbers was still not possible at all.
Houweling Telecom Museum
A guided tour with a group takes on average one hour, where the telecom history, complete with demonstrations of original equipment, is shown in a friendly and detailed way. Remarkable are the old wooden devices, but also the turntables that were introduced in 1965 attract attention. The T65 shows that you should rotate the dial to make a call. The museum shows different versions of devices in various colours and the improvements that have been made over time, such as adjusting the volume with a volume knob. The museum also shows models that came on the market afterwards with push-buttons. Nowadays we are used to entering numbers on the display of our mobile phone, in those days pressing keys to call already quite a progress. Table and wall models are on display in the museum, and a striking sight is a talking clock, which people on the street could consult if they wanted to know what time it was. The technology behind it and how it works can be seen in the museum. Appliances and equipment are also donated to the museum from time to time. A device used not so long ago, and the fax is now a landmark in the museum. Other notable items besides the exchanges are telexes, measuring equipment and telephone books from the last century.
The bunker on the grounds of the Houweling Telecom Museum
Behind the museum, there is a bunker built by the Germans during the Second World War. The Houweling Telecom Museum is also interesting for children, because of the ‘discovery’; the aircraft from bygone days. In the bunker is a part of the ‘walking exhibition’ “The disappearing telephone booth”. This exhibition consists of photos taken by students of the Grafisch Lyceum Rotterdam and consists of an exciting series of captivating images from very different insights. Groups can visit the building from 1923 on request for a small fee.