The overland telegraph line to Darwin was completed at the same time as the Eastern Extension Company finished the submarine line between Singapore and Darwin. The company had premises in Darwin and until it opened up its branch office in Adelaide in 1893, the General Post office acted as its agency. When a branch did open in Victoria Square, the organisation was known as Eastern Extension Telegraph Co.
In 1900, the company began laying a submarine cable between South Africa and Adelaide. It was laid via Mauritius, the Cocos Islands and Cottlesloe in Western Australia, to Adelaide, coming ashore at Grange. It extended into the city along the northern side of Grote Street, through Pitt Street to Franklin Street. Finally it entered the back of the company’s new premises, then located at the National Mutual Building in Victoria Square (the former Marine and Harbors Building).
The Eastern Extension Telegraph Co remained there for about three years before moving to the Advertiser building in 1904, where it became the Eastern Extension Australasia and China Telegraph Co. Ltd. It used these premises until 1921, when it bought the building now known as Electra House from the Citizens’ Life Assurance Co. The building became known as Electra House in 1940, after the Greek legendary figure Electra, “the bright one”.
The company changed its name to Cable and Wireless Ltd in 1929 but the local branch did not use this name until May 1943.
The building passed into government ownership in May 1949, and then to the Overseas Telecommunications Commission before it became commonwealth property in September that year. Cable & Wireless Ltd. had by this time gone into decline due to competition from “beam wireless”, and finally ceased service as a cable station in January 1949.
Council passed plans for the construction of this building in September 1900. The architect was John Quinton Bruce, who is probably better known for his design of Carclew House on Montefiore Hill. J.Q. Bruce worked with architects William Cumming and Ernest Bayer. According to M. Page, his “flamboyant architecture was so successful in the pre-war years that it made him a wealthy man”.