Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Push button A .............. making a telephone call in 1955

Now if you are old enough to remember Muffin the Mule, hid behind the sofa for bits of Quatermas and the Pit and thought the light had gone out of the world at hearing of the assassination of Dr King and the death of Otis Reading I suspect you will remember how to operate button A & B on this public telephone.

I don’t as a rule go in for nostalgia but when John Casey sent over these pictures from his collection something stirred deep inside me.

Not that I used a public telephone that often, partly because there were few people I knew who had a phone and also because we were even in the 1950s one of that rare breed on Lausanne Road who had one.

The number was New Cross 6251 and that it itself dates me and our phone.

It was that time when you still used a mix of letters and numbers and in our case also involved being on a party line which meant we shared the line with someone else.

Films of the 50s often used that simple sharing of a telephone line for some very improbable comic plots.
Looking more closely it is possible to locate this one at the Maida Vale Junction with Hall Road in north London.

I went looking for it but I think the kiosk has gone.

And that is pretty much that.

Except for those very long numbers which if you tapped them into a public phone were supposed to allow you to make a free call.

As I remember it was always a friend of a friend who knew someone in the GPO who supplied the code, but I don't recall it ever working for me.

Location; London

Picture, a telephone kiosk date unknown from the collection of John Casey

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