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BS: Old London telephone exchange names

The Shambles 14 Nov 02 - 07:20 PM
Leadfingers 14 Nov 02 - 07:23 PM
Bert 14 Nov 02 - 07:27 PM
Gareth 14 Nov 02 - 08:06 PM
GUEST,colwyn dane 14 Nov 02 - 08:33 PM
rangeroger 14 Nov 02 - 08:33 PM
Gervase 15 Nov 02 - 02:54 AM
GUEST,Keith a o Hertford 15 Nov 02 - 03:36 AM
Banjer 15 Nov 02 - 05:59 AM
Micca 15 Nov 02 - 06:54 AM
RolyH 15 Nov 02 - 07:00 AM
The Shambles 15 Nov 02 - 07:02 AM
Mr Furrow 15 Nov 02 - 07:11 AM
Dave Bryant 15 Nov 02 - 12:03 PM
Jeanie 15 Nov 02 - 01:19 PM
Mrs.Duck 15 Nov 02 - 01:34 PM
The Shambles 15 Nov 02 - 01:46 PM
katlaughing 15 Nov 02 - 02:00 PM
Keith A of Hertford 15 Nov 02 - 03:03 PM
Amos 15 Nov 02 - 03:07 PM
John MacKenzie 15 Nov 02 - 04:54 PM
Jeanie 15 Nov 02 - 05:35 PM
Mrs.Duck 16 Nov 02 - 01:04 PM
GUEST,colwyn dane 16 Nov 02 - 06:06 PM
Bill D 16 Nov 02 - 06:38 PM
pavane 16 Nov 02 - 06:38 PM
RolyH 16 Nov 02 - 07:03 PM
Keith A of Hertford 17 Nov 02 - 06:49 AM
lady penelope 17 Nov 02 - 12:23 PM
Bat Goddess 17 Nov 02 - 12:47 PM
Herga Kitty 17 Nov 02 - 01:15 PM
Liz the Squeak 17 Nov 02 - 03:44 PM
Mark Cohen 17 Nov 02 - 03:53 PM
Kenny B (inactive) 17 Nov 02 - 04:08 PM
Lanfranc 17 Nov 02 - 07:22 PM
The Shambles 17 Nov 02 - 08:06 PM
Haruo 18 Nov 02 - 02:18 AM
treewind 18 Nov 02 - 04:06 AM
Schantieman 18 Nov 02 - 12:09 PM
Herga Kitty 18 Nov 02 - 07:05 PM
The Shambles 19 Nov 02 - 02:47 AM
Dave Bryant 19 Nov 02 - 05:17 AM
Peter K (Fionn) 19 Nov 02 - 08:34 AM
Schantieman 19 Nov 02 - 01:33 PM
Schantieman 19 Nov 02 - 01:39 PM
Amos 19 Nov 02 - 01:39 PM
C-flat 19 Nov 02 - 01:58 PM

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Subject: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: The Shambles
Date: 14 Nov 02 - 07:20 PM

I have no idea if anyone other than this sad nerd will be interested in the following site. I place it here as I thought I may not be the only sad soul here.

But I found it in idle moment when the name of my old local exchange, WAXLOW came in to my head. As these things do for no apparent reason. I looked up WAXLOW and found the names of all of them.

http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/rhaworth/phreak/tenp_01.htm


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: Leadfingers
Date: 14 Nov 02 - 07:23 PM

'I dialed freemantle , they gave me a throw,I wanted a primrose but I got a pro'


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: Bert
Date: 14 Nov 02 - 07:27 PM

Ah! those were the days; when it was easy to remember a phone number.


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: Gareth
Date: 14 Nov 02 - 08:06 PM

And in many a film Whithall 1212

Gareth


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: GUEST,colwyn dane
Date: 14 Nov 02 - 08:33 PM

Whitehall 1212 with a telegraphic address of 'Handcuffs London'

CD.


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: rangeroger
Date: 14 Nov 02 - 08:33 PM

Found my old Golders Green exchange-Speedwell.

Really loved Earls Court-Dreadnaught!

rr


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: Gervase
Date: 15 Nov 02 - 02:54 AM

Blimey, that brings back memories. Mine was MOUntview, my best friend's was GULliver and and my father's business was WELbeck. Not that that has any relevance to anything, but it certainly took me back.


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: GUEST,Keith a o Hertford
Date: 15 Nov 02 - 03:36 AM

Mine, near Kings Cross, was Terminus


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: Banjer
Date: 15 Nov 02 - 05:59 AM

We had similar prefixes to our phone numbers as well here in the U.S. I can recall our number at hme when I was going to elementary school was HE5-3241. The HE stood for Hemlock, there was also DI, for Dickens and others I don't recall. Now we have to dial ten digits to make a phone number in many cses.


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: Micca
Date: 15 Nov 02 - 06:54 AM

Remember FLAxman? and VICtoria, and HAMpstead and ARChway? and WATerloo and BORough?


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: RolyH
Date: 15 Nov 02 - 07:00 AM

I used to live in a rather grey area of South London but answering the phone "Pollards 6348" made it sound very countryfied.


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: The Shambles
Date: 15 Nov 02 - 07:02 AM

Wecome fellow 'nerds'......*Smiles*

Some of the exchanges were named after local shops or in my case a local farm.


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: Mr Furrow
Date: 15 Nov 02 - 07:11 AM

This sad old nerd could be reached on LARkswood and used to call his girlfriend at the COPpermill :o)


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 15 Nov 02 - 12:03 PM

BTW Leadfingers - I think it was "Gave me a FRO(bisher", although the following line "Gave me a PRO(spect)" has a double meaning of course.

There used to be a technique of avoiding paying for calls (of course I never used it..) by tapping the number on the cradle of the phone. Because the 0, 1 and 9 were used for Operator and 999 calls, you could actually dial these (in fact 1-8 came out as 1). One of my friends had the number W00(lwich) 9011 and it was therefore possible to ring them for free as WOO came out as 900.


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: Jeanie
Date: 15 Nov 02 - 01:19 PM

Leadfingers and Dave: do you know any more of that song ? It sounds good !

Showing my age again, but I remember these. We lived outside the London phone area but I remember phoning my dad at his office on HOL(born) 8454. You're right,Bert - that system made it so much easier to memorize the numbers. Total thread-creep now, (we old nerds are entitled to a bit of thread-creep) but that has also reminded me of going to Holborn, at this exact time of year, to GAMAGES department store - Now.. who remembers that? And Mr. Holly in (I think) Selfridges ?

I can also remember the terrific excitement (!) when we could phone our relatives in Wales by dialling direct, without going through the operator. This was the biggest breakthrough ever.

And what about Button A and Button B? Amazing how things have changed. I wonder if any one else used to *long*, as I did, to have a phone in my shoe, like Maxwell Smart? Now I suppose if we so wished, we could stuff our mobiles down our boots.

Looking on that list of exchanges, I wonder how they came up with the rather North Country name of "Grimsdyke" as the exchange for Stanmore ? (It could have been ISIah or ISIdor - possibly more suitably kosher for Stanmore residents).

Thanks for posting this, Shambles !

- jeanie


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: Mrs.Duck
Date: 15 Nov 02 - 01:34 PM

We were BUChurst 9032 Doctor was BUChurst 0032. Once had to deal with very upset asian man who's wife was obviously in labour. All he could manage was his address and "baby coming you come now" He didn't understand that I wasn't the doctor so in the end I said"OK" rang the doctor and sent him round!!!


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: The Shambles
Date: 15 Nov 02 - 01:46 PM

And Mr. Holly in (I think) Selfridges ?

In his green suit? A bit before his time I think - a GREEN Father Christmas!


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: katlaughing
Date: 15 Nov 02 - 02:00 PM

Banj, I just barely remember the one we had when I was little, it was CHerry30497. Wonder why we only used the first two letters instead of all three as it seems fellow "nerds" did in the UK?

Ah, on further exploration, I find that we did use more in some places. Have a look at the Telephone Exchange Name Project. Nice mention of BUTTERFIELD 8 and PENnsylvania-6500.


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 15 Nov 02 - 03:03 PM

That was when VAT 69 was popularly known as Popes Phone Number.
Jeannie, I used to get taken to Gamages to see Father Christmas and the model railway they had every year.
Keith.


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: Amos
Date: 15 Nov 02 - 03:07 PM

When I was less than five, we had a RHInelander-5 number in New York. When we moved to CT it was POrter-2-3882 forever, until they took away our exchange's name and gave it a dang number instead. I can only guess with the burgeoning number of subscribers they were getting down to AXolotl and QIpu exchanges and didn't have enough imagination to import foreign words with double-consonant beginnings! :>)


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 15 Nov 02 - 04:54 PM

Standing alone in the dust and the dark
Of a dirty old phone box in Finsbury Park
I asked for Freemantle they gave me a FRO
I asked for a Primrose they gave me a PRO.

Cho

Say who you are love and not hello
Give me your name or give me your number
Say who you are love and not hello
If I press button A, all my pennies will go.

Can't remember the rest. Was it Sydney Carter who wrer it?
Oh dear it must be Anno Domini

Giok


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: Jeanie
Date: 15 Nov 02 - 05:35 PM

Just found all the lyrics, Giok, on this thread:
thread.cfm?threadid=27050

Thanks for offering on Mudchat to type all the words out, Leadfingers - you've been saved the effort and can have an early night now.

What a good song !

Cheers,
- jeanie


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: Mrs.Duck
Date: 16 Nov 02 - 01:04 PM

Hey I never saw either of you at Gamages and we went every year. We had an account there I think! Used to love that sleigh ride and never noticed we came out of a different door!!


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: GUEST,colwyn dane
Date: 16 Nov 02 - 06:06 PM

A BT building now stands on the old Gamages site in Holborn Circus.

CD.


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: Bill D
Date: 16 Nov 02 - 06:38 PM

in Wichita, Kansas, USA we had:
HObart,AMherst,FOrest,WHitehall...and several others I forget right now...it was kinda nice, but didn't last but a few years till all numbers came in. (For those several years, our # was FO-33996, which translates to 3633996, a special number in anyone's book!


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: pavane
Date: 16 Nov 02 - 06:38 PM

The GPO introduced STD dialling partly to overcome the problems of tapping the rest. You could still do it, but it didn't bypass the paybox any more.

Also, if you knew how, you could get onto the internal lines between exchanges and get free long distance calls. GYPsy Hill 97 was one of the code I recall (my friends using, of course).


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: RolyH
Date: 16 Nov 02 - 07:03 PM

Another way to make money out of the GPO,was on the way to school push a handkechief up the returned money chute(button B)and on the way home pull it out, along with pennies beyond your wildest dreams.(not mine though.Oh no!)


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 17 Nov 02 - 06:49 AM

Mrs Duck, I was the kid in the short trousers and knobbly skinny legs.
Used to live off Roseberry Ave and went to Hugh Middleton.


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: lady penelope
Date: 17 Nov 02 - 12:23 PM

All I remember is looking at the letters on the dial and wondering why they were there. I thought my Mum was making it up when she told me about the exchanges having names.

I like the idea though. It gives the whole thing a bit of character.

It looks like my exchange, when I lived with my parents, was Gulliver and my current one would have been Coppermill. I like that....

TTFN M'Lady P.


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: Bat Goddess
Date: 17 Nov 02 - 12:47 PM

Our phone in a west 'burb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (USA) was BLuemound 8. I worked for the phone company for about a year after high school (1967-68), mostly in commercial engineering, but then in service rep training. I think I was in the SHerman office. There was also HUmbolt, ATkins, and my brain is cramping upon trying to remember all the others.

Linn


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 17 Nov 02 - 01:15 PM

We had a GRImsdyke number - not surprising, as the telephone exchange was at the top of our road....

Kitty

PS Harrow had a BYRon exchange, on account of the poet going to the school at the top of the hill. And Kenton's exchange was WORdsworth.


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 17 Nov 02 - 03:44 PM

We didn't have a phone until after I'd left home at the age of 18!

Now we'd be ALBert Dock or CLOck Tower..... although it actuallly comes out as Norwood.. the other side of London!

If you look at a lot of local police station numbers, the last 4 digits are 1212.... my own local one is 472 1212, Dorset Police is the Dorset code, area code, 1212.... People don't believe me when I tell them this came about because it was Scotland Yard's number.

And it's actually a lot easier to say 1212 rather than 999. 999 was chosen because it was easy to find the numbers on the old round dial phones with the finger stop... find the stop, 2 fingers in the holes, the second hole is 9.

LTS


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 17 Nov 02 - 03:53 PM

kat, the song is actually "PEnnsylvania 6-5000", not "500" -- still only two letters in the name. The US might have used the British 3-letter system very early on, but I think that after the 7-digit phone numbers were standardized, two letters and a number were used to identify exchanges all across the country. In northeast Philadelphia our number was DEvonshire 2-9220 (now there's a nice bucolic name for you!). My neighbors and relatives tended to be DE3 or DE8, or else FIdelity 2, MAyfair 4, PIoneer 4, PIlgrim 2 (same "PI" but a different name), while friends in other parts of the city had CHestnut Hill 7, PEnnypacker 5, HObart 4, GArfield 7, DAvenport 9, WIndsor 2--and my memory fails me beyond that. As I recall, the changeover to using 7 digits occurred sometime around 1969 or 1970. The old phone dials didn't have letters by the number "1", and there was no "Q" or "Z", so 7 was "PRS" and 9 was "WXY". Here's a tricky question: what letter(s) would you find next to the number "0"?

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: Kenny B (inactive)
Date: 17 Nov 02 - 04:08 PM

In the days of the GPO telephones many of the police stations had numbers ending in 1113 to make it easy for the local PC to remember & tap out the numbers. For the same reason most fire stations ended in 2222 so a beat bobby in any area could call a fire station without putting in any money. Police in these days were trained to tap out at the right speed to make these calls. :>}


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Subject: Lyr Add: SAY WHO YOU ARE, LOVE (Sydney Carter)
From: Lanfranc
Date: 17 Nov 02 - 07:22 PM

I lived in West Brompton which shared the FLAxman code with much trendier Chelsea, so I only told prospective conquests my 'phone number. Their horror if or when they came back to my grotty bedsit in Lots Road instead of a trendy Chelsea pad can best be imagined.

Yes, the song mentioned above was by Sidney Carter, and, if I remember aright, finished like this:

Standing alone in the dust and the dark
Of a dirty old phone box in Finsbury Park
I asked for Freemantle they gave me a FRO
I asked for a Primrose they gave me a PRO.

Chorus:

Say who you are love and not hello
Give me your name or give me your number
Say who you are love and not hello
If I press button A, all my pennies will go.

My mother is waiting at Lancaster Gate
I promised to call her at a quarter to eight
I've been trying to ring her, but what can I do
Instead of my mother I keep getting you

Chorus

There's many a fine girl that I've got to know
Through a fault on the line at the old GPO
I'd do it again, but it wouldn't be right
I've promised to telephone mother tonight

Chorus


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: The Shambles
Date: 17 Nov 02 - 08:06 PM

I met a girl, whose father was a fireman. She told me she lived in ('snooty') Westminster.

When I took her home, I found she lived across the river, im Lambeth Fire Station. True it was only a few hundred yards from Westminster, but a world away.

Lovely girl though.


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: Haruo
Date: 18 Nov 02 - 02:18 AM

Amazing! I'd've sworn we Americans were the only ones with letters on our telephones. Maybe it's just that we're the only ones who still have letters on our telephones (even though we don't have exchange names like these anymore, either). We use them to dial things like 1-800-GOT-MILK.

From age 2 to 13, my phone number was LA3-6511. All of our LA's stood for LAkeview, and of course the same number now would be 523-6511. Though now you'd need to specify the area code: (206) 523-6511. Then I moved to Japan and it was all numbers (called denwa bango). Which ones, I don't remember.

Haruo
who didn't realize it was this easy to be a nerd ;-)


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: treewind
Date: 18 Nov 02 - 04:06 AM

After the London exchange names were abandoned, lots of new numerical exchange codes were introduced, which of course had no alphabetical equivalent. For a while after that, there was a certain amount of snobbery over having a code that corresponded to one of the old named exchanges, and there was an urban myth that it even affected house prices. I was in Notting Hill for years with a "fashionable" 229 (BAYswater) number.

Haruo, we Brits do still have letters on some of our phones (the one on my desk at work has them), but they never get used and mnemonic phone numbers in adverts are very rare. They've come back big time on mobiles for sending text messages, of course.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: Schantieman
Date: 18 Nov 02 - 12:09 PM

Kitty:

WORdsworth extended to Belmont and parts of Stanmore too, as we were WORdsworth 2973 in Weston Drive, 1959 - 70. It became 907.

What was the relevance of the Lakeland poet to this (previously) leafy suburb of NW London?

The Houses at Stanburn primary school were Byron, Chandos, Gilbert & Handel, all of whom had local connections. Chandos (yellow) were the best, of course!

Steve


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 18 Nov 02 - 07:05 PM

Schantieman

Thread creep, but... Handel and Chandos had the same geographical connections because Handel stayed and played at Canons and at St Lawrence Whitchurch) a couple of centuries before it got turned into the North London Collegiate School. Gilbert's local connection was living at Grim's Dyke. Stanburn was so overcrowded that I ended up at Aylward (just over the road from NLCS). The houses were Brockley, Glebe, Canons and Bentley. On the phones 907 corresponded to the letters WOR on the dial - HARrow became 427 and HATch End became 428.

Kitty

PS- so were you at school with Michael Portillo?


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: The Shambles
Date: 19 Nov 02 - 02:47 AM

PS- so were you at school with Michael Portillo?

Given Michael Portillo's reluctant account of some of his schoolboy activities ('he didn't inhale'), you do not need to answer that one!

Or if you do, sell it first it to the Mirror or Sun.


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 19 Nov 02 - 05:17 AM

For all you youngsters, basically the way that the old Button A/B phone boxes worked was as follows.

Before you inserted any money the dial was partially disabled with only the 1, 9, and 0 working (any other number came out as 1). This was to enable the free calls to 999 and 0 (later 100) for the operator. However, tapping the number on the cradle (2 taps for 2, 3 for 3 etc) sent the same code down the line. Incidently if you wanted to dial 0, you could tap 10, but it was easier to use the dial of course. If you did tap the number, you got straight through with no payment. Certain numbers (especially on the WOO(lwich) exchange could be dialled free of charge - but of course the GPO kept quiet abot that !

When you inserted your 3 (or later 4) pennies (the great big round copper ones nearly an inch and a half diameter) the dial became fully active. When you got through, you could hear the other person, but they couldn't hear you until you pressed button A and your coins went into the box. Pressing button B cut off the call and returned your coins.

I knew many mums who would tell their kids to ring them at a certain time, but not to press button A unless they were told. This way their mums could give them any instructions without having to pay for the call. The only problem was that mum didn't really know for certain who she was speaking to.


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 19 Nov 02 - 08:34 AM

!!!ANORAK ALERT!!!

Pavanne, it was the "pay-on-answer" principle that thwarted free calling, though these boxes were necessary to enable self-dialling of trunk calls as well as local calls (STD). As you say, it continued to be the case that each digit was signalled to the exchange by breaking the circuit the same number of times as the digit value. This rotated a mechanical selector the corresponding number of notches, thereby routing the call to the appropriate point on the next bank of selectors, and so on through successive banks, until all digits had been dialled.

These "step-by-step" eachanges, dependent on "loop disconnect" signalling were the brainchild of an undertaker called Strowger who lived in or around Kansas I think (Bill D?). He was driven to his invention because the manual switchboard in his town was run by his rival's wife, through which his rival was always the first to hear of local deaths. Strowger exchanges stayed at the heart of telecoms switching in the developed world from the 1920s right into the 1980s. (Many developing countries bypassed Strowger, going straight from manual to digital switching.) On some exchanges it was possible to lock a selector by tapping 11, and this in theory could threaten to put such an exchange out of action.

LTS, the reason 999 was preferred over 111 (which was as easy to find on the dial and much quicker to call) was a concern that calls might be generated by accidental line breaks (bumping the handrest, birds on phone wires etc). In the UK we somehow overlooked the 911 compromise.

Not mentioned on the site Shambles pointed to, but someone might be interested: ADVance was used for part of the east end because of a perceived social stigma attached to the original proposal, BEThnal Green. Options were limited as they were by then stuck with the 238 numerical code.


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: Schantieman
Date: 19 Nov 02 - 01:33 PM

Re: Michael Portillo (or Leahcim Ollitrop, as he was known to us), yes. He was about five years ahead of me so I didn't really know him. Also Clive Anderson (..'Talks Back'), Geoffrey Perkins (who produced 'The Hitchikers' Guide to the Galaxy') and various other luminaries - all in the same year! Sir Paul Nurse, too, who's just won a Nobel Prize.

Anyway, that was at Harrow County, not Stanburn - although he may have been there too, I suppose.

Steve


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: Schantieman
Date: 19 Nov 02 - 01:39 PM

...and we still don't know what Wordsworth was doing in Stanmore!

S


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: Amos
Date: 19 Nov 02 - 01:39 PM

BEeechwood 4-5789,
You can call me up and have a date,
Any ol' time!



LOL!


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Old London telephone exchange names
From: C-flat
Date: 19 Nov 02 - 01:58 PM

Dave Bryant has just reminded me off the "tapping" trick to avoid paying for calls. I used that technique on more than one occassion!
Numbers were a lot easier to remember then too. My old number was Richmond 2244.


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Mudcat time: 13 December 1:08 PM EST

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