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Telephone Service in Birmingham

Spargone

master brummie
I was thinking back to my short spell in MTRHQ, 95 Newhall Street. I very briefly worked with Management Services who had a small corner of a vast open-plan office on the ground floor. Most of it was just used as a store. I was told that 'the unions' had refused to work with open-plan so one small team was the most that could work there. We spent out time drawing coloured graphs to explain hard stuff to senior managment! I remember there had been an international cycling event near Leicester and the TM there had brought forward his equipment programme to provide capacity for the foreign journalists. Some bright-spark wondered if 'we' had made money on it, so all the operator tickets were collected up for analysis - a waste of time, all the reporters had reversed-charged to their home newspaper so Leicester TM received no extra income.

Then I moved upstairs to Internal Planning. The Regional Engineer was 'Jack' Cheesebrough, a very nice man, and his deputy Ernie Bate. Mr Rance was the (Assistant?) Director. He was remarkable in that he would from time to time walk on to the floor and talk to everyone, starting from the doorway onwards. Either he had a very good memory or an excellent brief as he could recall all the names of the children of the most junior staff. Our Executive Engineer was Mr Barnes. He kept everything about the job in his programme book, which never left his hands. I felt sorry for Malcolm Clements who sometimes deputised for him because he never got to see 'the book' so he was somewhat at a loss. Fortunately our AO, Dot Harvey, made up the programme book and she was smart enough to keep a duplicate so she helped Mr Clements out.

We had a good view on that floor. We could see City of Birmingham all sheeted up out in the open, later to be covered by the museum extension. Brindley House started to grow above the canal on one side. In the front we could see the 'girls' in the switchroom working away. There were a few bomb threats which had the 'lads' pouring out of the ATE onto the street while the ladies just kept plugging away. One scary sight was watching the window cleaners on Telephone House, they would lift up the sash windows and pop a short ladder onto the ledge which they then climbed. The ladder would lean outwards and one hand held the sash frame and the other the chamois!
 

DavidGrain

master brummie
Our phone # Stechford 3946 we had forever was in Yardley
There was no exchange in Yardley so you would have been allocated a number in the nearest exchange. Some telephones exchanges had made up names. Because there was no Q on the old dial so Quinton exchange was named Woodgate, a country area south of Quinton. As Oldbury started with an O which on old British dials was in the 0 for Operator on the dial, Oldbury exchange was named Broadwell, an area near Oldbury town centre. On conversion to numbers, because all numbers in South East Birmingham started with a 7 and STE for Stechford was equivalent to the numbers 783, so you were luckily able to keep your number. When I lived in Oldbury I had a number on the Woodgate exchange which was some distance from me so 900 which was equivalent to WOO had to be changed to a Birmingham South West number and Woodgate became 422. My present house, into which I moved just over 4 years ago, which geographically is in Halesowen is also on the Woodgate Exchange as my area used to be in the B32 post code but with the overflow number of 421 rather than 422
 

Dave89

master brummie
Hi,

Our old number in Stechford was 783 7697, and the
number for R White's in Western Road Brookfields was 554 3378.

Kind regards
Dave
 

DavidGrain

master brummie
Our works phone No at Villa Street was Northern 3017 and at Broad Street was Midland 4971

Our old number in Stechford was 783 7697, and the
number for R White's in Western Road Brookfields was 554 3378.

Kind regards
Dave
[/QUOTE]

NORthern was the exchange for the Handsworth area
The centre of Birmingham was spit between CENtral which was in Newhall Street and MIDland which was in Hurst Street.
I think CITy and COLmore were also used but are not listed on the website I looked at of Old Birmingham codes


STEchford became 783 as I mentioned in a previous post and 554 was also a code for the Handsworth area
 

DavidGrain

master brummie
0121 496 numbers are fake numbers available for TV and Film producers to use in TV programmes and films but I think are also being used by scammers.
 

Radiorails

master brummie
Another communication system was the telegraph (telegram) service offered by GPO (telephones).
Some of the older company adverts, many on BHF, show their telegraphic address s well as their telephone number. Sometimes the telegraphic address was referred to as a cable address.
1583594436717.png
 

cookie273uk

master brummie
I joined PO Telephones as an external engineer on leaving the RAF in 1956, I could be wrong but I believe FOUr Oaks at that time was still a manual exchange, the rest being automatic. Over my 30 years plus service I covered most of the exchange area shown in the above map. I took early retirement in 1998 after it was privatised and became known as BT who appeared to put profit before both staff and customers, unlike PO telephones who paid for my evening classes and City and Guilds exams in Telecoms and promotion on passing said exams. I enjoyed my time with the PO a good firm to work for and we had a good pension scheme (compulsory). I should add I was in telecoms during my 8 years RAF service as an aircrew wireless operator Eric
 
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RobT

master brummie
I joined PO Telephones as an external engineer on leaving the RAF in 1956, I could be wrong but I believe FOUr Oaks at that time was still a manual exchange, the rest being automatic. Over my 30 years plus service I covered most of the exchange area shown in the above map. I took early retirement in 1998 after it was privatised and became known as BT who appeared to put profit before both staff and customers, unlike PO telephones who paid for my evening classes and City and Guilds exams in Telecoms and promotion on passing said exams. I enjoyed my time with the PO a good firm to work for and we had a good pension scheme (compulsory). I should add I was in telecoms during my 8 years RAF service as an aircrew wireless operator Eric
In 1932 the Four Oaks exchange opened in a new building in Lichfield Road, with six operators and 450 lines. By 1964 the exchange had grown by eight times that size and had the distinction of being Birmingham's last remaining manual switchboard. This building is now used as commercial offices.
After 30 years service I left GPO/BT in July 1992 - on that day 40,000 employees left BT !
 

cookie273uk

master brummie
RobT, do you know the year Four Oaks went automatic ? It was one of the Exchange areas I never worked on. I finished up as a TO on maintaining customers automatic systems, mostly in the Black country Eric
 

RobT

master brummie
RobT, do you know the year Four Oaks went automatic ? It was one of the Exchange areas I never worked on. I finished up as a TO on maintaining customers automatic systems, mostly in the Black country Eric
on Saturday 14th November 1964 the new Four Oaks ATE opened in new premises (presumably went automatic)
Started as T2A on PABX Construction (dream job), I ended up as TO on Exchange Construction & also did 11 years on Exchange Maintenance at Acocks Green.
 
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Curly

master brummie
At 8.30 a.m. on Saturday 14th November 1964 the new Four Oaks ATE opened in new premises about half a mile down the Lichfield Road, where the exchange is still in current use today. Four Oaks ATE changed from 4000 type Strowger to TXE4 on May 20th 1982 sometime before 08:30 BST.

The Four Oaks ATE serves subscribers in the Bassetts Pole, Canwell, Four Oaks, Ley Hill, Little Sutton, Mere Green, Middleton, Roughley and Shenstone Wood End areas of Sutton Coldfield. The telephone codes currently used are 0121-308 and 0121-323.
(from:-http://www.telephonesuk.co.uk/exchanges.htm)
 
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