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Friday, 26 March 2010

Call Offices

I don't know if you know that the GPO/PO/BT refer to payphones etc as 'Call Offices' dating from the early days of telephones where a person without a telephone would got to somewhere that had a telephone specifically set up for use of people who called in (in the days before kiosks). Most were in the telephone exchange whilst others were in a local shop. The person would go in and the call would be made and the fee collected. These were known as 'attended call offices'. These survived well into modern times ! The last one I know of was 'Rheinigidale 1' on the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides. This was the UK's last single digit telephone number in use until the early 1990's in a remote croft in a village that could only be reached by sea (a road has since reached the village!). Rheinigidale is spelt in many ways - this OS map has the older Anglicised spelling - Rainigadale

You can listen to an excerpt (from a BBC Radio 4 programme 'The Secret Life of Telephone Numbers' that resulted from the BBC contacting me!) about the Rheinigidale call office on 01859 598 001 (01859 is the code for 'Harris' - probably a free call in the evenings/weekends from your BT phone?)

CNet UK 0352 2345

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Do you have any further info on this post? Have you called the payphone? If so, what conversations with people have you had as a result? Please feel free to give any feedback here.