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About the collection at Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre

Exterior of the Connected Earth gallery at Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre

Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre was one of the first of a BT distributed community of partner museums.

Opened in May 2002, the purpose-built Connected Earth display centre is now a well-established attraction at Amberley and houses the telephone collection and a special collection themed on 'Living and working in the telecommunications age'. In addition to the two vehicles below the theme features the development of the telephone itself, along with the stories of the people involved, particularly the operators and engineers. Phone boxes, switchboards, telephone poles, manholes and other vehicles are also on display, many as working items.

News from Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre

BSA motorcycle combination

Lineman's motorcycle (c1933) : a neat way to get to work

Back in the 1930s the Post Office were busy installing telephones deeper and deeper into rural Britain. And with all the kit to carry, a bicycle just wouldn't do.

One answer was this motorcycle and sidecar. The sidecar wasn't for anyone to sit in, but held the tools of the trade. A toolbox and spares (and frequently a lunchbox) lay in the top with a ladder folded and nestled into the bottom.

This BSA 595cc bike was used in London for a number of years before being sold. It was bought back by the Post Office in 1979 to be fully restored.

Albion utility vehicle

Albion utility van (c1936) : a different sort of cable car

The telecommunications network spread rapidly through the first half of the 20th century and this in part was thanks to the heroic efforts of the men who installed the poles and cables.

The Albion van is a perfect example of the transport used by the men who installed and maintained telegraph and telephone lines. It was a home from home for a four-man team, and housed all the equipment needed for them to complete the job.

This van was registered in 1936 and was used in Gloucestershire, where it would have been used on the lines in both the county town and in the beautiful Cotswold hills.

After 14 years service the van was sold to a farmer who left it in a paddock pretty much untouched for the next 20 years until it was bought back by the Post Office to be restored and preserved.

3D objects from Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre

Place the mouse over the Flash image. Left-click and drag either left or right to rotate the animation.
Telegraph Sounder

Telegraph Line Sounder and Galvanometer c 1874, this receiver was able to receive both audible and visual signals.

Skeleton Phone

The classic magneto telephone by Ericsson of Sweden its ornate "skeleton" frame formed part of the hand generator. This model was later adopted by The Post Office as the telephone no 16.

Pedestal Telephone

A battery calling telephone from the 1880's incorporating a Blake transmitter and separate call button.

Higgins Receiver

The Higgins telegraph receiver c 1902, sometimes known as the "ticker tape" as used within the Stock Exchange.

Gas Mask

WW II telephone operators Gas mask and Steel Helmet. The gas mask has an integral transmitter to allow work to continue while the mask is being worn.

Ericsson Table Telephone

The Ericsson telephone manufacturing company was responsible for creating many of the most attractive, elegant and functional telephones. This is just one example of their range.

Clear Trimphone

The Trimphone, the first luxury model introduced in 1966 had a number of innovative design features, including a hollow handset - when the user spoke into the handset the sound travelled up inside the handset to the transmitter which was housed in the earpiece and the transistorised tone caller which replaced the conventional. The model shown has a clear case, a limited number of these models were produced mainly for exhibition purposes!

Clear 300 type telephone

Introduced in 1936 the 300 type telephone with its integral bell become the standard model in offices and homes alike for the next 25 years . The model shown has a clear case which allows the components to be seen.

Visitor information

Amberley Working Museum location map

Telephone: 01798 831370

Postal Address:
Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre
West Sussex
BN18 9LT


By road:
The museum is situated in south-west Sussex mid-way between Arundel and Storrington on the B2139 road. The entrance is in the car park of Amberley railway station, where free car and coach parking is provided for visitors.

By train:
The station is on the Arun Valley Line with regular trains from London Victoria and places along the South Coast.

fun and games

Can you beat our games? Explode equipment to see what's inside, hear the changing sounds of telecommunications, see how telecommunications designs have changed over time or send an e-postacard.

what's on

The UK's first permanent gallery dedicated to the history of information and communication technologies opens in the new Information Age gallery at London’s Science Museum.

audio history

Take a trip down memory lane with extracts of the interviews which have been recorded as part of the Connected Earth oral history programme.

featured story

100 years of automatic switching!
In 1912 the GPO installed Britain's first automatic telephone exchange in Epsom.

Discover the early days of the telephone...