HISTORY OF THE
BAKELITE WALL TELEPHONE


A bit of a convoluted story and a difficult to find history, the BPO Bakelite wall telephone in the UK started in the late 1930's.  The GPO decided it was time to obtain a Bakelite wall telephone to match the range of Bakelite table telephones that they supplied since the early 1930's.

The GPO had lots of old wooden wall telephones which were becoming difficult to maintain and many of these telephones had inherent transmission issues.  Shared Service on Automatic exchanges was also being introduced and the existing wall phone estate was not conducive to modification.

Another issue was rationalisation of the telephone instrument estate as the GPO had an excessive amount of different models for differing installations.

A favourite trick was to use existing stock and reuse recovered telephones.  But the self contained 300 type was not wall mountable (even with a shelf) and the 200 type required a separate bellset, which in itself meant more time spent on installation.

World War Two put a stop to the investigation and it was decided to keep this in progress and resume at the end of the war.

At a meeting of the Subscribers Apparatus Sub Committee in July 1947 the question of the new wall telephone was back on the agenda.  It was thought it would include the standard 300 type table chassis.  This item was called SCP13 in the meeting minutes.

By October 1947 a model was available for demonstration and in April 1948 it was stated that the GPO had approved the design in principle.  Initially it was envisaged they would only be used on Shared Service lines.  Ericsson had already commenced manufacture, which was not the norm.

Then, in April 1949,  the Committee stated it required a new Wall Telephone.  This ran in tandem with SCP13 and some designs were investigated (see pictures below).  When it was realised that the manufactures could not produce a new phone in time for the Festival of Britain, the investigation was discharged at the April 1951 meeting.

SCP13 continued and Telephone No's 311 and 399 were introduced.  The 311 was for use on Shared Service lines and the 399 was for direct exchange lines.  SCP13 was discharged around mid 1951.

At the meeting of the Committee in July 1952, Ericsson suggested a new wall telephone.  The Committee followed this up and in April 1953 Ericsson had presented costs.  The GPO expected the costs to be no more than the existing wall phone, the Telephone No. 311.  In July 1953 this item was called SCP 124 and the GPO advised that it would initially be a Shared Service telephone with a probable first order of 10,000 sets.

At the April 1955 meeting it was stated that a pre-production run of 250 sets was to be made.  In July 1955 the GPO advised that although SCP 124 was for a Shared Service telephone, they now also wanted a Direct Exchange Line model as well.

In October 1955 it was noted that the Shared Service model was called the 321 and the Direct Exchange model the 333.  The GPO advised that orders had been placed for 17,000 telephones No. 333 and 3,000 Telephones No. 321.  A small number of Telephone No. 327's were also ordered and it was expected that there will be a requirement for wall phones in the GPO standard colours in the near future.

At the January 1956 meeting SCP124 was discharged.

Pictures

Proposed wall phone - became the Telephone No. 311 (Picture dated 1938)
 
Pictures taken when a new wall phone was called for
(Pictures all dated 1951)
DRU Proposal
 
Ericsson Proposal
 
GEC Proposal (Their Muraphone)
 
Proposed telephones on display
GEC - Siemens Bothers - Tele No. 221 - Ericsson - DRU - Ericsson
 
Proposed telephones on display

Siemens Brothers - Tele 232 on wall bracket - Unknown magneto

 


 

 
BACK Home page BT/GPO Telephones Search the Site Glossary of Telecom Terminology Quick Find All Telephone Systems

Last revised: December 10, 2020

FM