Trench Telephone – The Scottish Parliament

StudioStand were tasked with developing a new exhibition at the Scottish Parliament that explores the role of Scottish Women’s Hospitals around the world during the First World War. The exhibition features unseen pieces by renowned Scottish artist John Bellany which were inspired by the experiences of those who served and were treated within these hospitals.

After being rejected by the War Office when approached, Dr Elsie Inglis (who was famously told to “go home and sit still”) offered the first Scottish Women’s Hospital to Britain’s allies who happily accepted, resulting in Scottish Women’s Hospitals becoming active in countries including France, Russia and Serbia throughout the war.

The Scottish Parliament Exhibition Trench Telephone Audio PlayerImage:

Trench Telephone Audio Point The Scottish Parliament

Replica Trench Telephone

As part of the exhibition StudioStand were hoping to incorporate audio played through a number of trench telephones. They wanted visitors to advance through a series of spoken letters and poetry from the era but in a manner which was applicable to the time period in question. Trench Telephones were used for communication between front line and rear-echelon commanders and were essentially rugged handsets stored inside various forms of boxes for protection – utilising these original devices wasn’t only an intriguing way to share audio but also offered an insight into trench warfare.

StudioStand provided replica boxes whilst we sourced original telephones. Combining authentic phones with our modern audio playback technology we built pressure plates into each box along with push button activation. Users simply lift the phone out of the box and select ‘Play’ – a ‘Skip’ button allows visitors to move to the next audio piece while returning the phone to the box will end playback. The Trench Telephones have been very well received and help tell the wider story of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals.

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