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Saturday 6 March 2010

Ian Jolly on the CNet site

Below is a message from a fellow telephone enthusiast Ian Jolly regarding the CNet website:

The 'Collectors Network' a network of old telephone exchanges - some of them in the UK are former GPO public exchanges;- I have a few including the oldest working GPO exchange ( a Unit Automatic exchange No 5) through to the last public electro-mechanical exchange out of the BT network. Plus a number of old manual exchanges ranging from old 'ex-National Telephone Co magneto switchboards, a small wall mounted switchboard which was 'Glen Moriston' exchange from 1925 until 1955, Braunton exchange from Devon through to a number of positions from the auto-manual board at Porthmadog (the centre suite of positions used in the BBC's 'Hello Girls' series with Letitia Dean in the 1990's - I was the series adviser and built the switchboard for the two series).

CNet is a basically a reproduction of the GPO telephone network using the codes as they were in the early days of Subscriber Trunk Dialling (1960's/70's). It is an incredible network that uses VoIP to link the old telephones and exchanges. I look after the allocation of dialling codes for everywhere outside of North America. All sorts of folk are connected including some places such as the New Zealand equivalent to our Science Museum (MOTAT - the Museum of Transport & Technology in Auckland) and the Telstra (Australian equivalent of British Telecom) Museum of Telecommunications in Melbourne. They have the original Australian Speaking Clock connected to CNet !  . I have a number off the exchange there and get the Aussie clock by just dialling 1194 - their old Speaking Clock code. In the UK we dial the old Speaking Clock code 8081 except for the London/Birmingham and other director areas where they dial 'TIM (846).  CNet in the UK also has a 24/7 operator - a voice recognition system but the 'operator'  whose voice you hear is the same one from the 1930's Speaking Clock!  You just dial '0' or '100' depending on which exchange you're on and when 'she' answers you just ask for the number and 'she' puts you through

I have a few payphones ranging from a 1927 A/B box (known as a GPO 'Telephone No 123')



Through to the last in the series of payphones made by the same company (Halls Telephone Accessories Ltd) who invented the A/B as above.  Not used in the UK but in Australia - this is the picture of it when it was on eBay !   You'll notice that the shape of the 'box' is virtually that of the GPO's Renters STD Coin-box !

Others include a couple of New Zealand payphones -

Note the mechanism in the NZ payphone on the left below and the original A/B box !  You can see how one developed from the other !




Luckily I have a former New Zealand Post Office phone system that allows me to use the 'reverse' New Zealand dials to call numbers by converting the digits to those used by the 'rest of the World'.