Essential Architecture- The Bund, Shanghai

The Great Northern Telegraph Company Building


Atkinson & Dallas


7 The Bund, Shanghai, China








Office Building
  Above image reproduced with the generous permission of Simon Fieldhouse. Copyright Simon Fieldhouse.
A large fire in October 1905, atop the new offices being built for Shanghai’s first provider of telegraphs and telephones, took over two hours to extinguish and delayed the completion of the building for a whole year. The roof collapsed and the entire third floor and attic had to be rebuilt. The building, which eventually opened in January 1908, also housed the offices of the British owned Eastern Extension and the American owned Commercial Cable telegraph companies.

Originally there were three Bund entrances leading to the respective company offices. The Great Northern Telegraphy Company, a Danish concern, had laid a line to Beijing in the early 1880s and had completed the one to Nagasaki before the new offices opened. he building, in Renaissance style, designed by Atkinson & Dallas, housed some stare-of-the art equipment, including a pneumatic tube system to handle the telegrams and a lift made by Smith & Stevens of London. Public telephones were found in abundance in the ground floor hall.

The Great Northern Telegraphy Company occupied the first floor, and most of the Bund frontage was given over to a series of fine suites for its manager, engineer and accountant. The flags of the three nations present in the building used to fly above the building before the telegraph offices were moved to a new building in East Yan’an Road, behind No. 1 The Bund, at the end of 1921. In the following year the Commercial Bank of China, which was previously next door at No. 6, moved its business into the building. The Bangkok Bank took over part of the premises in 1995 and, as in days gone by when numerous consulates occupied the Bund’s buildings, the Royal Thai Consulate-General also took up residence.