In 1886 one of the first freestanding call offices (later to be known as 'kiosks') was introduced in Bristol by the United Telephone Company. It was basically a small wooden hut where a three-minute call could be made for just 'tuppence' (a little under 1p). Not all early payphones had a coinbox built into them; some of the kiosks had a penny-in-the-slot mechanism on the door, while others had an attendant to collect the fee.

The National Telephone Company actually produced subscribers' Trunk Pass Keys which were used to unlock call offices when members of the public wished to make a trunk call in the attendant's absence.  These would have been used in coin boxes designed by "Smith and Sinclair".  A "Smith and Sinclair" style Coinbox is pictured below.  The slots on the top were for Penny and Sixpenny coins whilst the slots on the front were for the Pass keys used by subscribers.  When the Pass Keys were turned they had the same effect as when a coin was inserted,  These coinboxes were mainly used in the Glasgow area of Scotland around the mid 1880's.

West Counties and Wales Telephone Company

NTC Trunk Pass - front view

NTC Trunk Pass - rear view

NTC Trunk Pass - front view

Smith and Sinclair style Coinbox



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Last revised: February 10, 2021