GPO Vehicles

Make Bedford
Model OWB (B28F)
Type Public Telephone Office
Body Builder  
Use Mobile Call Office - Purchased 1946
Registration Numbers HLA 227 & HLA 228
Fleet Number 9222 & 9223
Date of picture HLA 228 - 1955 and HLA 227 - July 1957

The vehicle was most probably produced pre 2nd World War

The GPO purchased 5 coaches but it cannot be confirmed if they were all exactly the same type.
The purchase was made in 1946 and were HLA 223 to HLA 228.  It looks like these were ex-WD vehicles.
HAL 228 was rebodied by Kidbrooke as a Mobile Call Office in 1955.


 An article from the Post Office telecommunications Journal - August 1955

First Mobile Call Offices launched

The first group of public telephone call offices on wheels in this country was driven in June from London to Norfolk to open for service at Norfolk Agricultural Show. Its official name is the “Mobile Telephone Unit” or “Mobile Call Office Unit”; colloquially and popularly it might well become known as the “Telebus”.

Although the new unit started service at an agricultural show, it was planned and has been built primarily for providing telephone service in emergencies. Within a few seconds of the Harrow railway disaster in October, 1952, the telephone services in the neighbourhood were congested with calls for doctors, medical supplies, ambulances and hospitals, and by control calls from the railway people and the police. The Post Office then realized that a mobile unit, containing several call boxes which could be rushed to such scenes and plugged in, would be immensely valuable.

The Engineering Department Motor Transport workshops at Kidbrooke acquired a Bedford chassis from a disused coach. They rebuilt the coach, modernising the overall lines and making booths for telephone positions, which can be used either on a direct exchange line or a coin box basis, with cupboard space for components, and they installed interior lighting, two ventilating fans and treated the walls and ceilings with sound absorbing material. Stabilising rods were fitted to reduce movement and bounce.

The London Power Section workshop panelled the rest of the interior with “Wearite” and provided cushioned seats in the booths, and the London North Area Telephone Manager’s installation staff fitted telephone wall boards and a switching panel.

Finally, the coach was painted and embellished - Post Office red, gold and black - in the Engineering Department’s workshop at Yeading.

By key switching in the attendant’s booth, the telephones can operate to C.B. manual or automatic exchanges, including unattended automatic exchanges (except type Nos. 5 and 6); C.B.S. and magneto working are not catered for. The attendant’s booth contains a telephone for service to the exchange staff.

When the coach arrives on the spot, a 15-pair polythene cable will be laid over ground to the nearest permanent line plant. More than 60 yards of cable are carried.

Power for interior lighting, and for driving the ventilator vans is drawn from the car battery, which is considerably larger than would be needed merely for starting and exterior lighting. A small charging set is included for the larger charging rate. An A.C. mains source, instead of the 12-volt battery, can be used for lighting and ventilation.

The vehicle is exceptionally neat and compact. The overall length is 24 ft. 6 in., and the width 7 ft. 6 in. The wheel base is 14  ft. 8 in. long and 7 ft. wide.

The unit will work in the London Telecommunications and Home Counties regions. It will attend such events as agricultural shows only when not called on for emergencies but, should the need arise, it can be pulled out and rushed at once to the scene.


HLA 228


HLA 227

Customer cubicle

Customer cubicle also showing part of the Attendants desk to the right

Attendants cubicle

View of the cab

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Last revised: March 26, 2021