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10 -2 -2014 To 16- 2-2014

This functional and imposing, if not overtly beautiful, structure is a classic example of administrative colonial architecture. Its main entrance is dom­inated by an oversized portico with coupled ion­ic columns and open-bed pediments.

PAST

This building was the last to be designed by John Begg, Consulting Archi­tect to the Government of India, for Yangon. It was designed as a four-storey, steel-framed building with brick walls between stanchions placed at 20-foot intervals. During early excavation work, the con­tractor discovered that part of the plot was severely waterlogged and innova­tive methods were used to remedy the situation. Piles 9 inches in diameter were sunk across the swampy area and Filled with sand. The sand was stirred for days until it became Firm and dry. The entire site was then leveled with more sand and covered with 25 inches of fine cement.

At the time of its con­struction, the Telegraph Office offered Yangon residents the technolog­ical wonder of speedy communications with the rest of the world, and this building has always been associated with informa­tion travelling into and out of the country.

Not long after the Jap­anese captured Yangon in World War II, the new authorities issued an order for city residents to bring their radios to the Telegraph Office to have them converted so they would be unable to receive Allied news broad­casts from India. After months passed and the radios were not returned, it was surmised that the authorities had used the announcement as a ruse to confiscate private wireless sets and pre­vent any news of the war from spreading through Yangon.

In the 1950s, after Inde­pendence, this building was still the only agency handling foreign cables, with about 96,000 outgo­ing and 87,000 incoming messages sent per year The Telegraph Office contin­ued to serve its purpose as a link to the outside world during the socialist period and, throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, was still favoured by city residents for its reliable domestic telephone lines and inter­national fax services.

PRESENT

Today, other communi­cation technologies have superseded the useful­ness of the Telegraph Office. The building is owned by the Ministry of Communications, Posts & Telegraphs, and the ground floor is currently being used as a telephone mail, with stalls selling mobile phones and SIM cards.

Diagonally across the intersection, on the northeast corner, is a colourful building hous­ing various shops that include the Kyaw Horne Mart. This was formerly the Tejoomal Building, an emporium of oriental curios that sold a wide selection of silverware, silks, and carvings frog across Asia.

REF: HERITAGE BUILDINGS OF YANGON

Source : Traveller journal