Number 10 Downing Street

The official site of the British Prime Minister's Office

Installations at Number 10 Timeline

Since 10 Downing Street became the official residence of the Premier, the building has performed the dual role of both residence and place of work for Britain’s Prime Ministers.

To meet these twin challenges, No10 has witnessed significant upgrades and installations of technology throughout its history – to ensure both an acceptable standard of living for its residents and to keep the Premier at the heart of decision making within Government. Often the prompt for new technology or an upgrade was the arrival of a new Prime Minister.

Here we set out some of the more notable developments across three centuries of history, from the arrival of hot running water to the first tweet.

Timeline

1877 – hot and cold running water installed.  The living quarters were renovated  for Benjamin Disraeli – including a bath.

1894 – installation of electric lighting and first telephones.   Following Disraeli’s departure William Gladstone redecorated the building and oversaw the installations.

1902 – first motor-car driven onto Downing Street.   Arthur Balfour brought the first car and since then, Prime Ministers have looked to select British marques for their official car, with a procession of Wolseleys, Humbers, Rovers, Daimlers and Jaguars sweeping successive Prime Ministers into – and out of – Downing Street.

1937 -  first central heating

1963 – electrical and telephone systems were replaced.  1963 was a major period of renovation for the building.

1982 – the first direct hotline between No10 and Washington was established during Margaret Thatcher’s first term of office

1982 – first ‘micro-computer’ and microfilm reader installed.

1983-  wider roll-out of computers machines for Number 10 staff following a review of the building’s needs. 

1990s – first video conference.  John Major used the technology from his study

1996 – desktop PCs installed at all workstations

1996 – the launch of the first No10 website

1998 – internet access became mainstreamed across Number 10 staff desktops

2002 – dedicated video conferencing suite was installed.  This followed the events of 9/11 and allowed the Prime Minister and his team to be in face to face contact with counterparts around the world in an instant.

2005 – a new e-mail account allowed the public to contact the Prime Minister directly

2008 – Number 10’s very own online TV station – Number10 TV

2008 – Number 10’s first tweet – and there have been over 3,000 since