Well, we discovered that putting the carbon mike in series with a battery and the sound powered speaker units, gave us LOUD speech. We honestly thought we had invented the telephone! After discovering we hadn't, we decided to build an automatic exchange, so we wrote off to all the telephone factories. AEI which had taken over Siemens Brothers replied, and said they would send us some parts. A week later, when I came home from school, this big van came to my house loaded up with phones, relay sets, reels of cables and it filled up the back lawn. When my stepfather came home, he went ballistic and demanded to know who had given me permission to receive this load of equipment! My mum who covered for me, told him that he had said it was OK, but had forgotten about it (phew!!). I stowed it away in the garage. That was a close shave, because he often had got my mum up against the gas cooker and said "I'M THE MASTER IN THIS HOUSE AND DON'T YOU FORGET IT"!!!
I went work for the GPO telephones and worked through their apprenticeship and did very well in tests and courses because of my prior experimenting - no-one else in my area was interested in telephones as a hobby. There was a TV series called "Dr Finlay's casebook" which had the housekeeper, Janet answering the candlestick telephone (GPO NO. 2) all through the series. What was great, was that the bell-set actually tinkled when we either flashed the Operator or hung-up. The other TV programme I liked was "Z" cars, a police series which featured the new 706 telephone, and they had lots of black ones featured every week. I still like both types of telephone - I have a 1960 AEI black 706 by my bedside connected to a 1960 PAX, and a candlestick no.2 made by Ericssons, Beeston in 1912 off my dolls-eye switchboard.
When I finished my apprentice-training, I went to work in a strowger exchange which was unfortunately very boring for a 20-year old. The cleaner started to throw his weight around a bit, and the Technical Officers seemed powerless to stop his bullying antics. The final straw for me was one morning while we having tea break, he burst in shouting "ALRIGHT, ALRIGHT WHO "dirtied" the toilet pan???" Now I am being polite when I use the word "dirtied" because ex-Chief Petty Officers in the Royal Navy are more explicit with their words!! I can leave it to your imagination as to what he actually said.... I then thought do I want to put up with this ignorant pig, I already have one at home that I can't wait to get away from. SO, a chance came up to work as a telephone engineer for Plessey in Southampton and I went to work for them. They had previously been called "Communication Systems" a part of Automatic Electric Co in Liverpool. I learnt all about Public Address systems, Master Clocks as well as telephone systems. We were based in Southampton so I had a chance to go on-board some ships and maintain their telephone Exchanges, on ships like the "Orsova", "Oronsay" and "Orcades" of the P&O line. Also ships of the Union Castle line, often bound for South Africa, like the "Pendennis Castle". TO BE CONTINUED......
Photo's of my telephone cords.
I have an old fifties shoelace/microphone-screen braiding machine that makes the cordage and I plait the cords by hand. Then I usually fit spades or by special order bind the ends with loops. The colours are ivory, red, green and brown. I recently made some silver-grey cord that they like in Australia and can be fitted on any colour. I also do bell-receiver cords for candlestick phones in brown or green, and the small bell-set cord for 232 telephones. Post has to be advised, but the present prices are: handset £12; line £15; bell-set £9; bell-receiver £9 any colour.
Best wishes from a rainy England. Geoff
"An Englishman's home is his castle"
Castle? In 2011 a young couple can't even afford a shed down the bottom of the garden!!