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Telephone Service in Birmingham


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!