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Monday, 10 December 2012

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Where heritage meets high tech: SLT restores historic CTO building

At a time when all of us, as a nation, are becoming more and more aware of the necessity for the recognition, restoration and preservation of our country’s heritage buildings; Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT), the national telecommunications provider, has underlined its commitment to this goal with a full scale restoration of the facade of the Ceylon ‘Central Telegraph Office’ (CTO) in Colombo Fort.

This historic property, constructed in 1911, housed the Ceylon Telegraph Department, the predecessor to Sri Lanka Telecom. Situated along both Chatham Street and Lotus Road in Colombo Fort the building was also the location from which Radio Ceylon began its initial broadcasts.

Pleasant establishment

Fondly remembered as the home of the “hello girls” the CTO was considered a peaceful, pleasant establishment where operators met the needs of customers who wished to make local and international telephone calls as well as send telex messages.

The building was also a second home to the journalist fraternity who visited it frequently and at all hours, to file their stories to international news agencies and publications.

The CTO was touched by violence, when, in 1989 the LTTE detonated a bomb in the building resulting in 14 deaths and much damage. A restoration was carried out thereafter to ensure that the building did not fall into disrepair.

SLT’s recent restoration of the building’s facade was made with every effort taken to ensure that the CTO remained true to its original design and detailing.

“We were 100% committed to working within the specified guidelines to ensure that the restoration was carried out in the right way. We consulted with architects and contractors to make sure that everything was correct, from the materials used, to the lines and designs that made up the restoration” explains Mr Greg Young, CEO of SLT.

“We are very proud of this building as it represents a key piece of our country’s heritage and history”.

Original form

Many key features of the former structure are still in their original form, for example the original CTO name board, now restored, proudly stands in its original position at the entrance to the brand new Teleshop entrance. “The board is a widely recognised historic landmark. We wanted to keep the original name board intact and are very pleased that we were able to achieve this” continues Mr Young. Having worked hard to ensure that the heritage building stays true to its traditional and former glory, SLT has added a key feature that will bring the building straight into the 21st Century.

Housed within the CTO is a new SLT Teleshop, which offers an array of services including the unparalleled convenience of settling all SLT bills, obtaining any SLT services such as Megaline, Citylink, Broadband internet, PeoTV and Mobile services through Mobitel counters at the location.

The new teleshop also showcases an ‘Experience Centre’ which provides customers with a first-hand experience of SLT’s high quality single play, double play and triple-play services: Telephone, Broadband and PeoTV, and much more.

The modifications at the CTO building include state of the art low energy flood lighting, which is consistent with the energy conservation program underway at SLT; the lighting provides energy efficiency illumination of the building for special occasions. Thus the CTO of today, whilst retaining its character of a century ago, is also a building of the future - housing the finest in high tech, customer oriented services and products, as Mr Young says “The CTO is a structure that stands true to SLT’s ideals - that fine combination of the best of the high tech and futuristic, as well as the tradition, respect and reverence owed to the values of the past.

We encourage other building owners in the Fort area to follow our lead and preserve the past whilst investing for the future.”

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