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Building fixtures and fittings, power equipment and office equipment

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The network and street furniture

Reminiscences of early telephone days
I was born at the little village of Althorpe near Selby in the year 1858. At the age of 22 I commenced work for the United Telephone Company in Bradford as a labourer, this centre then being worked under Leeds...
How bizarre
It must have been around 1975 - I was about 12 years old - when I was the cause of a very bizarre accident. I was out early one evening with some friends who had gone into a local convenience store. I waited outside and while doing so leant casually onto a set of traffic lights controlling a crossroads junction....
Birth of the BT Tower
The Telecom Tower in London, previously the Post Office Tower, is regarded as the hub of the BT microwave radio network, but the decision to build the tower was made some time after the Post Office started providing microwave radio links....

Communication systems

The first digital telephone exchange
The UXD5 exchange at Glenkindie (Scotland) was the first Digital telephone exchange in the UK...
My mother as Female Assistant in GPO Engineering
My mother’s name was Stella Zara during the war. She was 20 when war broke out. After working for Shell and London Transport where she would see bombed bus wrecks towed into the depot, she got a job as Female Assistant with GPO Telephone Engineering and, after training, began working on transmission systems....
999 service
It was interesting to read the story about the history of the 999 service. When I was an engineering apprentice, I was told that 111 would be quick to dial (on the old rotary dials) but it was not used as the emergency code because the numbers could be "tapped out" by open wires on poles coming together in high winds or branches falling across phone lines...
Remote babysitter
With the birth of our twins Hannah and Rebecca, life became a little more hectic and tiring. We love them to bits but they leave no time for anything else. So it was a godsend to discover that by using BT Broadband and a webcam over a voice and picture connection, my wife's mother could remotely monitor the babies while my wife was cooking or washing up in the kitchen....
My BT life
I joined BT in 1976 as an apprentice. It has dramatically changed my life. Who would have thought a Telephone Engineer Apprentice (with just O and A levels) would one day become the Solution Design Authority for BT's ATM (MSiP) Platform, being responsible for the sign-off designs for the transport of BT's Broadband and IP Traffic !!....
Four generations of technology
When I first joined BT, the nearby Pershore telephone exchange was still manual (CBS2) - the very last of its kind in the West Midlands area. In 1967 the exchange was made automatic using the latest Strowger electromechanical technology....
Inventing a hands free device
You need hands - for writing, searching through files and typing. That's why engineer Mr Leslie Sutton has invented this cheap, simple handset holder that enables people to talk on the phone and have both hands free....
Subscriber Trunk Dialling
I joined BT in 1966 as an engineering apprentice based in Evesham in Worcestershire. Evesham was the second telephone exchange in the country after Bristol to have STD, which meant that subscribers could dial long-distance calls direct without the need for assistance from the operator....

Rules, regulations, working practices and instruments and information

Memories of a TAG clerk
I worked for BT (GPO / PO) from January 1967 to July 1992 and my first job was in Telephone Billing; initially in Manchester and then in the London area. In the early 70s I was a telephone billing instructor at the training school in Bunhill Row and whilst sorting through my 'archives' found my Quarterly Broken Period Rental Calculator A1314 (Revised 1972)......
999 Operator 1948 - 1956
My name is Florence May Sharp nee Williams born 1934. I left school in July 1948 and as there were no vacancies at the Post Office I started work at a department store on the cosmetics counter. I had only worked there for a month when a vacancy occurred and I commenced work as a probationer at Telephone House, Newcastle upon Tyne....
All-figure numbering NOW
Ann leads numbers-only phone drive

The Post Office has launched ANN, All-figure Numbering NOW, to persuade people to forget the old letter-code phone numbers and start using numbers only.

Tools and transport

Historic day when a telegram went by motor-cycle
After 37 years in the Post Office I still treasure this rather tattered picture of an event that was historic both to the Post Office and me....

Communication instruments

Picking the phone
The Post Office turned up to install our shared line when I was about 12 in 1965. My parents were out so all the key decisions were mine such as postioning the phone and choosing the colour. The 2-tone instrument gave excellent service for the next 20 years....
It's good to stay in touch
When I went travelling in my gap year - over a decade ago, the only way I could keep in touch with my friends and family at home was via very expensive, time-delayed public phones, or through letters delivered to post restantes....
Recording the first speaking clock
Jane Cain, the voice of the speaking clock, remembers making the first recordings: The actual recording wasn't nearly as strenous as most people seem to think... The real work was done by the engineers of the Post Office, who had a wonderful place up at Dollis Hill, where they took the recordings and played about with film strip and the like....
The five millionth telephone
The 5,000,000th telephone was officially opened on 7 September 1949. Mr H M Hawkins of Wildage Farm, Stelling Minnis, near Canterbury applied for a telephone in March 1946....
Using the phone box
When I was 13 (I'm now 28), we only had one telephone in the house- which was kept in the hall. On a school trip, I met a boy called Alex who lived in Staffordshire. And in order to make sure that I wasn't overheard when calling him, I used to use the telephone box outside the house!....
The telephone and the Samaritans
We're reliant on the fact that most people, if not all people have a telephone. People need an immediate response. Without it, no Samaritans couldn't exist without the phone.
Telephone user
An explaination of how Alf Sawkins used a telephone for the first time with a group of friends to confirm a booking for his local football team, with disastrous results.

Advertising, demonstration, promotion and items with personal associations

Santa on the line
Seven-year-old Kitty Attwell uses a Mickey Mouse phone to hear one of this year's Dial-a-Santa stories. She met Santa in person during his stay at Selfridge's Christmas grotto. Santa is letting children phone him at the North Pole from 10 December....
At least four generations of telecommunications
When I was a child my mother used to talk about her grandfather, who had worked on some sort of telecommunications on Rathlin Island. She actually used the word 'telephonics'....

Components and associated parts

Time and money
In 1960s more and more people in this country were able to dial the Continent and needed to time those more costly long-distance calls. This Swiss gadget fitted onto the dial of a telephone and showed the time of day, the date and when the phone was in use, the number of minutes the call lasted....
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...