Telephone System

Telephone System

During the 20th century, the telephone had a huge impact on ordinary lives. At first, people were reluctant to use telephones. Social conventions of the time meant that people were reluctant to call each other at home 'unannounced'.

Initially, the telephone was used mainly for business. In trade and commerce, the telephone was universal by the time of the First World War, but private subscribers were still a minority. By the 1930s, attitudes to the telephone were changing, and the phone became seen as part of everyday life.

London's first telephone exchange opened on 1 March 1902 near Blackfriars. It had a capacity for 14,000 line users. 'City' Exchange, 'Mayfair' to serve the West End, 'Western' for Kensington, and 'Victoria' for Westminster, all followed soon after, along with suburban exchanges.

The earliest automatic exchanges were installed at Epsom, Surrey in 1912, and in the City of London at Bishopsgate in 1928. The first coin-operated telephone call box was installed by the Western Electric Company at Ludgate Circus, London, in 1906.

Alternate Names

  • British Telecom
  • BT

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