TELEPHONE No. 232 & 1/232

Bakelite table telephone used on Automatic and C.B. systems in conjunction with a Bellset No. 26.  This telephone is fitted with a handset called a Telephone No. 164.  There is no bell or capacitor fitted inside the telephone, so a Bellset No. 26 would have normally been fitted.

The C.B. version is fitted with a black plate in place of the dial.

This telephone was introduced in 1935 and superseded the Telephone No. 162.  The No. 162 had a transformer and not an induction coil.  The Telephone No. 232 was fitted with one of the later ASTIC induction coil, which gave superior transmission.

The main difference between a Telephone No. 232 and a Telephone No. 1/232 (see picture above) is that the former has only a flat base plate, whereas the later has a drawer in the base plate.

Optional items for this model were a lamp fitting and a second receiver.  They were both mounted on a bracket that was clamped around the neck of the telephone, just above the dial.  The Lamp Fitting No. 14B came complete with lamp and bracket, whilst the extra receiver used a Receiver, Watch No. 7P and a Hook, Receiver 'L'.

The Mk 1 (1935) and Mk 2 (1948) designs of the Telephone No. 232 made different use of terminals 6 and 8 as the two phones were wired differently.  Terminals 6 and 8 were reversed which meant that the green handset wire could be on one of two terminals.  The Mark 1 used terminal 6 whilst the Mark 2 used terminal 8.  The case may have the wrong paster diagram on it so the wiring should be checked if restoration is taking place.  Both diagrams can be found here

The Telephone No. 232 Mark 1 is fitted with a Coil, Induction No. 20, whilst the 1/232 Mark 1 is fitted with a Coil, Induction No. 24.  Wiring is identical.  The Telephone No. 232 Mark 2 and 1/232 Mark 2 is fitted with a Coil, Induction No. 27.

Whilst the telephone was a table model, a Bracket No. 14 was made available for wall mounting the telephone.  See picture below.

Telephone No. 232 on a bracket No. 14
The telephone can be lifted off


Bracket No. 14

The picture below shows the interior of a genuine Telephone No. 232.  On the right is the Induction Coil, the switch hook springs are in the centre and the dial cord is shown to the left.  This dial cord is plastic, which would have replaced a cloth covered dial cord.

Telephone No. 232 with base removed showing components (Induction coil to the right)

Telephone No. 1/232 (Mark 2) includes (Rate Book 1946 and 1956):-
1 x Base, Telephone No. 1/162, (Colour).
1 x Coil, Induction No. 27.
1 x Cords, Instrument No. 3/62B, (Colour), 54".
1 x Cords, Instrument No. 5/09E, 3" (for Dial, Automatic only).
1 x Dial, Automatic No. 10 ... , S.S., No. 10 ... or Dummy No.3 (Colour).
1 x Part No. 1/SBR/3.
1 x Part No. 1/SBR/4.
1 x Part No. 1/SCR/1 (Colour).
1 x Part No. 2/SCU/1.
1 x Part No. 1/SPL/321 (Colour).
1 x Part No. 3/SSP/513.
2 x Part No. 1/SWA/72.
1 x Part No. 1/SSW/19.
1 x Telephone No. 164 (Colour).

The following variants were available for the Telephone No. 1/232 in 1946:-

Model System Dial Type Colour
Telephone No. 1/232B Brighton BA Black, Chinese Red; Ivory; Jade Green
Telephone No. 1/232CB CB manual Dummy, No. 3 Black, Chinese Red; Ivory; Jade Green
Telephone No. 1/232F Non-director FA Black, Chinese Red; Ivory; Jade Green
Telephone No. 1/232L Director LA Black, Chinese Red; Ivory; Jade Green
Telephone No. 1/232S Siemens, Southampton FS Black, Chinese Red; Ivory; Jade Green

Variants CB, F and L were only available in 1956.

Circuit diagram - N332 (Mark 1) & (Mark 2).

Circuit Diagram for connecting a Telephone No. 232 to a Bellset No. 26 - N4300.

Drawing - 62828.

Close up showing the internal connections of the handset cord (right), the dial cord and a new style line cord (left).

Additional good quality pictures

Telephone No. 232

Telephone No. 232, a development of the Telephone No. 162, was introduced in 1935.  It featured improved electrical performance derived from an improved ASTIC circuit and large numbers remained in use into the late 1950s and a few until around 1970, making it a very successful and long-lived design.  This telephone had no bell installed within the body, so if a bell was required then an associated Bellset would have to fitted on the wall.

The Bellset could be fixed under the telephone with special screws - some people describe these telephones as a "King Pyramid".  Click here for more information.

Later versions featured a drawer in the base (for dialling instructions or number lists) and an improved cradle fork design made of cellulose acetate instead of Bakelite that was less damage-prone and made the telephone easier to carry around.  These were numbered 1/232 or 2/232.  Simon Chappell explains this concisely: I think most people might define the two types as ‘162 cradles’ and ‘232 cradles’.  The earlier type closely follows the profile of the top of the ‘pyramid’ whereas the later type overhangs to provide the lip.

The general consensus on the cradles is:-

  1. The (black) Telephones No's 162 and 232 had unlipped Bakelite cradles of which there were two versions.  The original Bakelite cradle was found to be prone to breakage and was modified within a year of the original introduction.
  2. The black 1/162 has the original (mark 2) unlipped cradle and a drawer.   The drawer is constructed with some cellulose acetate parts.  There is no complete consensus on the 1/162 cradle.
  3. The black 1/232 has the lipped cradle and a drawer.
  4. All the black unlipped cradles were made of Bakelite.
  5. All the black lipped cradles were made of cellulose acetate.
Lipped cradle to the left and unlipped to the right
Lipped cradle to the left and unlipped to the right

Not all these telephones have the pull-out drawer and of those that do (types 1/232 and 2/232 made with coloured cases) generally have a stainless steel cover, with the GPO roundel embossed in red and a clip for a notepad, in the pull out drawer.

Manufactured by: All main telephone suppliers.  The Bakelite parts were also made (in black only) in Christchurch, New Zealand, by a local manufacturer called H. C. Urlwin (Harry Urlwin) where the mouldings carried the maker’s mark  H C U N Z .

Colours: Black, ivory, red and green.  The ivory models are hard to find in perfect condition as the moulding material (which is not Bakelite but Urea Formaldehyde) often deteriorates badly.  Either the manufacturers had difficulty mixing the ingredients or else the material was unstable from the outset.  It often cracks and goes like toffee ripple ice cream, with swirls of yellow-brown in the ivory.

Users: GPO and other telephone and railway administrations in Britain and the British Commonwealth.  An example made by Siemens Brothers has been noted with Arabic numerals on the dial and ESR (standing for Egyptian State Railways) in the oval recess of the handset.


232                  Standard table telephone, for use in CB/auto areas with Bellset No.26, with no drawer.

1/232               Development of the Telephone No. 232, with induction coil Nos. 22 or 24, lipped cradle and drawer in base.

2/232               Improved circuit, with induction coil No. 27 and drawer in base.

The Mk 1 and Mk 2 designs of the Telephone No. 232 made different use of terminals 6 and 8.  Restorers should note this carefully;  a telephone collector bought a phone with a Mk 1 case (and paster diagram) but Mk 2 innards.  It did not work because the handset cord had been connected according to the paster!   Both diagrams can be found here

Other types based on this model

Tele. 238
CB/Auto instrument intended for use with Box, Coin Collecting No. 14 and Bellsets No. 33 (auto) or 35 (CB).

Tele. 240
CB/Auto instrument for use with Loudspeaker, Amplifier No. 1 and Loudspeaker, Telephone No. 1.

Tele. 242
This instrument was used with Box, Coin Collecting No. 14 and Bellset No. 36 in UAX 5 and 6 (auto) areas.

Tele. 244
An ASTIC instrument used on police telephone and signal systems, fitted in police call boxes and so on.

Tele. 246
Wall-mounted pendant telephone for use with Bellset No. 37 (CB), Bellset No. 37 and Dial Mounting No. 16 (auto) or Bellset No. 31 (LB or long auto/CB lines).  Used as a ‘kneehole’ telephone on executives’ desks and in lifts. Fitted with the Extensicord elasticated handset cord.

Tele. 248
This ASTIC instrument was mounted on a Bellset No. 39 or 44 to make the main unit of Extension Plan 5 or 7 in CB/auto areas.

Tele. 264
Auto instrument for use in "certain call offices on automatic exchanges" (no further information available).

Tele. 232L, with drawer open to show dialling codes card. Tele. 232F mounted on Bellset 26, used by Hull Corporation Telephones. Note the non-GPO dial.

General information on 200 type telephones

Colour samples

Collectors Information - what to look for

How to dismantle a 200 type telephone

How to restore Bakelite

How to wire your Telephone No. 232 to make it work on the UK BT Plug and Sockets

How to wire your phone to work on the German telephone system

Lamp Fittings

Labels that fit in the sliding tray

How to fit a Bellset to a Pyramid Telephone

Click here for pictures of the 200 type Telephone - from all angles

London's Millionth Telephone

General fault finding on your phone


Pictures courtesy of Paul Follet

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Last revised: June 23, 2022