• Welcome to this forum . We are a worldwide group with a common interest in Birmingham and its history. While here, please follow a few simple rules. We ask that you respect other members, thank those who have helped you and please keep your contributions on-topic with the thread.

    We do hope you enjoy your visit. BHF Admin Team

Telephone Service in Birmingham

jmadone

master brummie
Some great pics Viv and on lots of threads, keep 'em coming.
Interesting Caption to pic 3. "Hullo Girls"? Do people say this in Brum or is it Hello as I always thought it to be or if you're a southerner Hallo.
 

Spargone

master brummie
Telegraph Boys, young lads who delivered telegrams on their bikes with a little saddle bag on the back. One of those jobs that young boys aspired to, like engine driving, to which one's parents said, "Oh no your not!"
 

oldMohawk

master brummie
Some early telephone work in Birmingham...
The tag with the photo (from shoothill) reads 'laying telephone wires in Colmore Row' and some youngsters of the early 1900s seem interested in the work. The girl in the centre appears to have a basket suspended in front of her, the man standing in the hole has pliers held in his belt and the cable looks substantial. That office building at No 88 does not appear to be there today ... maybe it isn't Colmore Row.
 

Spargone

master brummie
Some early telephone work in Birmingham...
Whenever I see a cable being laid I am reminded of a tale told me by a senior engineer at MTRHQ dating from when he had just joined the Post Office. It had been decided that the mouth of a harbour in Cardiff was to be spanned by an underwater cable which was duly ordered up. An 'old timer' boss looked at the drum and said "We will need to get a number [x] bar (the largest diameter in the rate book [PO stores catalogue])". The youngsters, fresh out of college with their diplomas, challenged this and said it was 'all a matter of bending moments' and the like so set out to calculate the required bar diameter. Referring their result to the rate book they were surprised to find that the boss had been correct and wanted to know how he had anticipated the answer. He said, "Because it is the biggest bl***y bar that will fit the hole!"
 

Student

New Member
Hi Susie, my dad was the senior chief suoervisor ( night staff) at Telephone House Birmingham until the ’s when he returned As I recall his responsibilities included Hill Street and Selly Oak exchanges and the secret Anchor exchange built as part of Cold War defence action .Although I never knew about that from him Only fo7nd out about it by doing recent historical research . He obviously valued the Official Secrets Act. From what I remember the only other GPO Telephones senior chief supervisor post in the country was in London and held by a woman who was over daytime staff , This I have always thought points to the GPO Telephones being somewhat of a progressive equal ops employer in the 1960’s.
 

Spargone

master brummie
This I have always thought points to the GPO Telephones being somewhat of a progressive equal ops employer in the 1960’s.
A curious definition of 'equal opportunities' I would have thought! As a rule women didn't operate switchboards on the night-shifts, (old-fashioned chivalry, meaning that 'girls' didn't have to be out on the streets outside daylight hours?).
I would have expected Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool and Manchester to have had equivalent managerial posts, London might possibly have had more. Certainly in the era of 'regionalisation' when we had some doubts as to what 'HQ' wanted us to do we would often confer with our equivalent officers in other regions, using 'unofficial channels'!
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
I would agree with Spargone and not consider that the were "equal opportunity" employers. It would take many years from the time that is referred to to see the first female engineer. Having worked for many years in the "secret Anchor" complex there were never any women, even during the day.

The Anchor Exchange was an automatic trunk exchange and run by Engineers. Outside normal hours the Engineers looked after the complex and there were no management supervisors. As far as I can remember the were two other similar establishments one at Manchester Guardian and the other at London Paddington.
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
Hi Susie, my dad was the senior chief suoervisor ( night staff) at Telephone House Birmingham until the ’s when he returned As I recall his responsibilities included Hill Street and Selly Oak exchanges and the secret Anchor exchange built as part of Cold War defence action .Although I never knew about that from him Only fo7nd out about it by doing recent historical research . He obviously valued the Official Secrets Act. From what I remember the only other GPO Telephones senior chief supervisor post in the country was in London and held by a woman who was over daytime staff , This I have always thought points to the GPO Telephones being somewhat of a progressive equal ops employer in the 1960’s.
Looking back to post 226 by Susie R, this would be about the time referred to, and she may be able to give you much information.

At that time I believe Operators would be considered on the "Clerical" side of the GPO. The supervisor pay structure would be different to that of engineers. I also believe the Clerical and Engineering sections belonged to different Trade Unions.
 

cookie273uk

master brummie
Yes, Engineers belonged to the POEU (Post Office Engineers Union) a very moderate union, just 2 one days strikes in my 33 years service both due to late payment of rises. Eric
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
The 1987 Communications Workers Union strike started in support of Members who were suspended for refusing to work overtime during an overtime ban in pursuit of a pay claim. When the members who had been suspended returned to work the next day they were confronted with papers to sign that committed them to work overtime at the companies wishes. Any who refused were again sent home.

The dispute escalated in to a full scale strike that lasted 2 weeks.
 

cookie273uk

master brummie
Pedrocut, but that was BT, who had a completely different attitude to PO Telephones, which was why I reluctantly took early retirement. Eric
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmmie
Pedrocut, but that was BT, who had a completely different attitude to PO Telephones, which was why I reluctantly took early retirement. Eric
Yes Eric I can vouch that you are quite correct in what you say. When BT was privatised in 1984 I had already 20 years service. I may well have been a "youth in training” under your guidance!
 

Heartland

master brummie
My late father Stan, worked as a telephonist at New Hall Street and later at Sheldon.

What happened to the Sheldon exchange?
 
Top