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I Remember Those! GPO Phones

Posted on Apr 04, 2012 by Paul Tiernan

In a world of beeps, whistles and the ghastly ringtone, we have become nostalgic for the good old clunky GPO telephone. The telephone was used for talking (and not for tweeting, texting and photography) to ones chums and family and probably had a table all of its own. Weighing as much as the family cat, there may have been a chrome dial, a woven line and your Mum recited ‘Durham 3871, Hermione speaking’ when she picked up the phone. The bell was loud and echoed around the house and the receiver was replaced with a satisfying clunk.

Bakelite, or polyoxybenzylmethylenglycolanhydride to its friends, seems to us to be the loveliest of materials and the 300 series (1937-late 1950s) is a splendid example of form and function in design. As telephones were supplied solely by the GPO to their ‘subs’ (subscribers) until 1982, the designs did not change much until the 1970s with the introduction of the more, ahem, shrill Trimphone. Bakelite is a fairly fragile material and is given to hairline cracks and so was phased out in favour of the more reliable plastic models, which sadly lack the solidity of their forebears.

We understand that restored examples are available. One would make a lovely moving-in present for the new Savvy Row offices. Although, we do hope it has the facility for us to turn the ringer off duringTest Match Special! Chaps may wish to peruse www.britishtelephones.com. 'A historical web site about UK Customer Telephone Apparatus & Systems', no less!

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