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Telephone history: Telephone Service in Birmingham

cookie273uk

master brummie
Radiorails, re post 341, that is the old EAS (east) telephone exchange, later having the 327 all figure code, part of the Birmingham (021) telephone system, I worked for PO telephones 1956 t0 1987, although the last 3 years it was privatised and became BT, one of the reasons why I took early retirement. Eric
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
I believe it was KNO ———— . There are examples in the Press, such as MIDland and CENtal numbers, and some for KNOwle.
 

chrissweep

master brummie
Anyone remember Birmingham 'Rectory' at Sutton Coldfield - the UK's first large electronic exchange - I was a senior commissioning engineer with Standard Telephone & Cables, there working on getting it up and running in the early 1970's. Used get visited by lots of folk from around the World to see it including regular visits by Bill Rylands, Chairman of the Post Office. To think, the technology has long been replaced! Years later I was present at the ceremony of what BT thought was 'The Last Electro-mechanical exchange' at Crawford in Scotland on 23rd June 1995 but I knew it wasn't. The following month I was present at the very last change-over on the tiny island of Foula. Then I recovered the exchange for my collection.View attachment 150455
Yes I remember it, I think it was up by Good Hope Hospital. I was on Internal Installation based at Sutton Exchange and Rectory fell under the same remit. Didn't they introduce " Crossbar " there, the replacement to Strauger ?
 

wendylee

master brummie
I did my training at Telephone House in 1964 and have been trying to trace others that worked there without success. The switchroom was on the fourth floor, directory enquiries was sited on the third floor. I remember the clocking in machine as you entered the switchroom. Supervisors standing at the back of the operators, if you needed a comfort break or a 'casual' as it was called, then you had to ask permission from the
supervisor.

Hi Susie its a while since you posted your message. I trained in 1967 at Telephone House, my maiden name was Hellon. A few names I remember in my group was Joyce Spriggs, Jennie Florence, Sarah Fitzpatrick , Jennie Jones. I remember the same things as you, loved it on the enquiries and 999 calls and doing Directory enquiries. Happy memories.

Wendy
 

DavidGrain

master brummie
KNOWLE telephone dialling codes - does anyone know what the local dialling codes to other local exchanges were in the 1960/80's ? The Subscriber Trunk Dialling Code in those days for Knowle was 0564 5 And I know that there was at least one local code to Lapworth. These are needed as Knowle 'exchange' is being added to our replica of the old UK GPO public network that we have replicated working over the Internet using the technology BT are starting to convert the public network to. However we still use the old codes of the 1960/70's so Birmingham is still 021-xxx xxxx and Walsall 0922 xxxxx. There are many old phones and former GPO exchanges connected - I have the oldest working GPO automatic exchange that served a village in Northumberland from 1929 until replaced in 1950. The network has lines all over the World as far away as New Zealand - no 'line rental' or call charges.

Unfortunately most Birmingham exchanges were far too large to preserved in their entirety.

I'm only looking for the local codes from Knowle in the 1960/70's - a photo/scan would be great if you happen to have an old dialling codebook - BT stopped producing them circa1984 when the went into the newly formatted 'Phonebook'

The dialling code from Birmingham was KN0 (or KNO) for Knowle and KN4 for Lapworth so from Knowle to Lapworth, I would have expected to be just 4.
 

wendylee

master brummie
KNOWLE telephone dialling codes - does anyone know what the local dialling codes to other local exchanges were in the 1960/80's ? The Subscriber Trunk Dialling Code in those days for Knowle was 0564 5 And I know that there was at least one local code to Lapworth. These are needed as Knowle 'exchange' is being added to our replica of the old UK GPO public network that we have replicated working over the Internet using the technology BT are starting to convert the public network to. However we still use the old codes of the 1960/70's so Birmingham is still 021-xxx xxxx and Walsall 0922 xxxxx. There are many old phones and former GPO exchanges connected - I have the oldest working GPO automatic exchange that served a village in Northumberland from 1929 until replaced in 1950. The network has lines all over the World as far away as New Zealand - no 'line rental' or call charges.

Unfortunately most Birmingham exchanges were far too large to preserved in their entirety.

I'm only looking for the local codes from Knowle in the 1960/70's - a photo/scan would be great if you happen to have an old dialling codebook - BT stopped producing them circa1984 when the went into the newly formatted 'Phonebook'
Hi, I used to work at Telephone House, Newhall st from 1967 and remember some of the telephone codes, Knowle was 560. I dont know if you are interested but if you go online and google telephonesuk.co.uk and go into Information and the Birmingham history , the full list of the dialling codes for 1960's 70's there is a full list there.

Regards Wendy
 

Spargone

master brummie
Anyone remember Birmingham 'Rectory' at Sutton Coldfield - the UK's first large electronic exchange - I was a senior commissioning engineer with Standard Telephone & Cables, there working on getting it up and running in the early 1970's.
The second TXE4 to be installed in Birmingham was Central. STC designed TXE4 and as was the practice in those days the design was passed over to the other major contactors, Plessey and GEC, to permit competitive tendering after the intial batch. STC used a lot of aluminium extrusions in their design but GEC stayed with steel. Had Central been a competitive contract they would have lost out because it was the light weight of the 'aluminium' TXE4 that allowed the Post Office to build a new floor on top of Telephone House to accomodate it.

By that time I was working for STC and we managed to get some experimental time on it before it went into service. We got some surprising results as a result of the Main Distribution Frame being located in the basement rather than on the same floor as the exchange it served, which was the normal practice. After three and a half years with STC I left the telephone business entirely but I always wondered how well TXE4 did in service, STC certainly had high expectations that extended down to the engineering staff, (not always the case once 'marketing' gets involved!).reed.jpg
TXE4 'Flat' relay bobbin that held 4 reed switches (shown). The bobbin was mounted at 45 degrees to the vertical and horizontal wiring to form a 'crosspoint'. This simple design got rid of the connecting tabs, top and bottom, on earlier designs.
 
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Ecko

New Member
I joined gpo in 1958 and did y2yc apprenticeship. The training school was at Shirley, and did I think Youths A and B courses Went on to Exchange Construction in 1960 and spent my time as C.O W 's after promotion to TO. Later got promoted to Level 1, then transferred to the Region. Worked there on Building Maintenance and finally Heat and Ventilation design until I took early retirement.
 

Brummie a long time ago

master brummie
Does anyone remember the demonstration exchange at the Science Museum in Newhall Street ? A glass fronted cabinet with a dial telephone at each side, where you could dial from one side to the other, and watch the kit inside working. A lot of vertical / horizontal stepping relays (Strowger ?). A real exchange must have been a noisy place. I remember obtaining one of those relays, possibly from Hurst Street, and taking it apart to see how it worked, (but that is just me, happens with lots of my tech stuff even now).
Andrew.
 

Morturn

Super Moderator
Staff member
Does anyone remember the demonstration exchange at the Science Museum in Newhall Street ? A glass fronted cabinet with a dial telephone at each side, where you could dial from one side to the other, and watch the kit inside working. A lot of vertical / horizontal stepping relays (Strowger ?). A real exchange must have been a noisy place. I remember obtaining one of those relays, possibly from Hurst Street, and taking it apart to see how it worked, (but that is just me, happens with lots of my tech stuff even now).
Andrew.
I do indeed, it was fascinating watching all those relays and the strowger (I had to look the spelling of strowger up) gear working.

I recall being told that the fox and goose game next to it was also designed by a telephone engineer or at least it was telephone parts.
 

Spargone

master brummie
It was amusing watching people use the exchange model in the museum. Because there was only one valid number for each phone to dial that number was on an engraved label above each phone.
People who hadn't read the instructions properly would call out to the other party "My number is XXX, what is yours?" and they would reply "YYY", then neither could get through because they were dialling their own number!

I believe there is a proper GPO training model exchange at Kidderminster on the Severn Valley Railway.

The 'Fox and Geese' machine got me started on designing my own games, the first being 'noughts and crosses'.
 
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