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Old 30th Aug 2018, 3:06 pm   #1
Dave Moll
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Default GPO exchange codes for charging dockets

My sister, who was once a GPO telephonist in Oxford, has recently passed me a list (prepared by our late mother, who was also a GPO telephonist there) of exchange codes used, I believe, for charging dockets. This list will be specific to Oxford as some of the smaller distant exchanges are given as subsidiary to other major exchanges, from which, no doubt, some of the codes would be prefixed "OF/". I attach a transcription of this list in case it is of interest to the telephone afficionados here and in the hope that a little more information is available about the context in which these codes would be used.
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Old 30th Aug 2018, 6:29 pm   #2
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Default Re: GPO exchange codes for charging dockets

There was another document that listed the codes used for all 'engineering' premises such as exchanges, repeater stations, radio stations, TV transmitting stations.

The document was known as E-in-C 1141 and still exists today with the 1141 as part of its title.

My copy quite early as it mentions TV companies like TWW (Television Wales and West) that was replaced by Harlech TV (later becoming HTV) in 1967. Moel-y-Parc TV transmitter which opened in 1964 and Cairngorm exchange which opened in Jan 1964 aren't mentioned either so puts it before that date.

The 'engineering' codes are sometimes the same as the operator codes but different at other times.

For instance I have a small 20 line CBS3 wall mounted public exchange switchboard and the lines to the 'parent manual-board are labelled 'FGS'. There is no engineering code 'FGS' - The only exchange I could find was 'Fort AuGustus' which had one of the 470 CBS3 exchanges that the GPO had connected to it by the name of 'Glenmoriston' exchange that used to be in the then village post office at Invermoriston near Loch Ness. After a more research I was able to discover evidence to back my theory up. Oddly the numbering scheme on the exchange was 201 through to 220 but with 221 instead of 211 ! I discovered that Glenmoriston was renumbered in 1950 from 1 - 20 to the above. Then I managed to track down someone who use to work the switchboard before WW2! And they conformed the FGS without my even mentioning it! Surprising what you can find out! The manual exchange was replace by a small automatic UAX12 exchange half a mile along the toad towards Inverness
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Old 31st Aug 2018, 3:28 pm   #3
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Default Re: GPO exchange codes for charging dockets

I'm puzzled by the first list. It does not contain any specific tariff details but I can see it is biased towards the south of England (no Dundee or Motherwell). I assume it predates STD and was used for operator calls. How would they cope with charging for places not on the list (of which there are plenty)?

At the start of STD I recall calls were either local (L), up to 35 miles (a) or over 35 miles (b). I believe b1 was introduced later. Before STD was the charging far more complicated, like train tickets? Was it purely distance based?
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Old 31st Aug 2018, 6:33 pm   #4
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Default Re: GPO exchange codes for charging dockets

At the start of STD (from Dec 1958) and rolled out until last exchanges converted in 1976, charge of local calls was by 'charge groups' usually all the exchanges with the same 0ABC digits of the call - your own group plus adjacent charge groups with certain exceptions. Trunk calls were charged by distance from centre of calling charge group t that of the distant one - distances as measured above.

Just prior to STD, locally dialled calls used what was known as 'multi-metering' - bear in mind that local calls were untimed - in four distances from the calling exchange, up to 5 miles - 1 meter pulse, over 5 up to 7.5 miles 2 meter pulses, over 7.5 and up to 12 miles 3 meter pulses and between 12 and 15 miles had 4 meters pulses sent at the start of the call. See attached prices from the 1957 telephone directory.

Trunk call prices depended on distance from calling exchange - see attached prices/distances from the 1957 telephone directory.

Note that some people confuse 'multi-metering' with STD metering when the pulses were sent a timed intervals - the timing depending on the distance band that the exchange was in - local, a ,b, c and later b1. There were also separate lengths of time per metering 'unit' depending if it was 'Peak Rate'(8am to 1pm), Standard rate (1pm to 6pm) or Cheap rate 6pm to 8am and all day at the weekends. There were variations over the years with Peak rate being introduced and then dropped in more recent years.
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Old 31st Aug 2018, 8:06 pm   #5
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Default Re: GPO exchange codes for charging dockets

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott37 View Post
I'm puzzled by the first list. It does not contain any specific tariff details but I can see it is biased towards the south of England (no Dundee or Motherwell). I assume it predates STD and was used for operator calls. How would they cope with charging for places not on the list (of which there are plenty)?
I would imagine that the operator just needed to record the information necessary (destination plus length of call) for later calculation of the charge for the call, so that they could move on to the next call as quickly as possible.

As I said, these would be for calls originating from Oxford, and I imagine that the destinations listed were the only ones my mother dealt with. Perhaps calls to other destinations needed to be pre-booked.

My understanding is that getting married, and particularly having children, put an end to a telephonist's career in those days, which would put my mother's time at the switchboard into the late 1930s into the start of WWII at the latest.
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Old 31st Aug 2018, 10:14 pm   #6
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Default Re: GPO exchange codes for charging dockets

I would imagine that the operator just needed to record the information necessary (destination plus length of call) for later calculation of the charge for the call, so that they could move on to the next call as quickly as possible.

As I said, these would be for calls originating from Oxford, and I imagine that the destinations listed were the only ones my mother dealt with. Perhaps calls to other destinations needed to be pre-booked.

My understanding is that getting married, and particularly having children, put an end to a telephonist's career in those days, which would put my mother's time at the switchboard into the late 1930s into the start of WWII at the latest.[/QUOTE]

Clerical Assistants worked out the call charges from the info on the 'tickets'.

When I joined the GPO as an apprentice way back (there were still over a thousand public exchanges which were still manual!) there were few married operators. The supervisors were the ones that don't get 'hitched' .

As an apprentice, we had into go into the manual switchroom at Chester at 8am to repair the faulty cords at the male night staff were going off duty and before the day 'girls' came on duty. One of the supervisors was about four foot nothing and seemed well over ninety to me a mere 16 year old. Another - Miss xxxxxx - actually had a beard !!

Boy, were they 'dragons' towards the girls?

The BBC TV series of 1996/8 'The Hello Girls' about the life and loves of the GPO operators at the auto-manual board at Derby exchange in 1959 got pretty near! Most episodes are on You Tube but make sure you search for 'BBC The Hello Girls You Tube' otherwise you'll get some interesting links
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Old 2nd Sep 2018, 9:59 am   #7
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Default Re: GPO exchange codes for charging dockets

1. I had completely forgotten about charge band c. Could somebody remind me what it was? 2. I can understand the system of pulses for domestic customers as the charges are in the ratio 1:2:3:4 but for call offices they are not in this ratio. Does this mean pulses were not used for call offices? 3. I remember putting the pennies in and pressing button A when the call was connected or button B for refund. This was with dial phones. How did payment take place with an operator controlled telephone kiosk?
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Old 2nd Sep 2018, 2:18 pm   #8
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Default Re: GPO exchange codes for charging dockets

1. The early STD non-local rates/distances were
a - up to 35 miles,
b -35 to 50 miles
c - over 50 miles
The 'c' distance was still shown until early 1974 but the charge for 'b' & 'c' was shown to be the same from about the end of 1973.

2. Call offices were limited to single unit fee until the end of multi-metering c1958 when they were then able to dial any calls listed as 'local' - they were still untimed until the exchange was converted to STD working. There were exceptions to this - I remember an exchange which still had untimed local calls as late as 1995 ! A local call just registered as a single unit and they could talk all day!

3. Pre-STD, You dialled '0' for the operator (or as STD approached in some areas it became '100' by fitting a Dial No 20LA which allowed a '1' to be dialled without putting money into the A/B box ) and she knew you were using a coinbox as you came up on a circuit with a red lamp/opal rather than a white one. She would ask what number you wanted and she would then request you insert the appropriate fee for the call (which muted the microphone in your handset) You would then be connected and have to press button A to deposit the money and unmute your microphone so you could speak when the called number answered. Trunk calls were timed with a Clock 44 in the cord circuit which the operator started when the call was answered - it put the 'three minute' pips on shortly before your three minutes was up. The operator then came on circuit and requested further payment.

Ian J
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Old 2nd Sep 2018, 4:13 pm   #9
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Default Re: GPO exchange codes for charging dockets

Thanks for the comprehensive reply.

2. I am puzzled by this. According to Pellseinydd's table, up to 5 miles cost 4d, 5-7.5 miles 6d, 7.5-12.5 miles 9d and 12.5-15 miles 1s. I thought each pulse represented one unit with a fixed value, so how can the ratio of charges be other than 1:2:3:4?

3. I was really thinking about manual exchanges rather than the situation immediately pre-STD. How did a telephone in a kiosk work without a dial, or were all A/B boxes fitted with dials even in manual exchange areas?

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Old 2nd Sep 2018, 5:26 pm   #10
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Default Re: GPO exchange codes for charging dockets

I read that table as being for manually-connected calls as recorded on tickets prepared by operators. Presumably clerks calculating call charges from these tickets would have a table of distances of exchanges from the local exchange, and would multiply this figure by the number of minutes recorded on the ticket.
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Old 2nd Sep 2018, 5:39 pm   #11
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Default Re: GPO exchange codes for charging dockets

Thanks, but I'm still puzzled why the ratios for ordinary lines and call offices are different. I can see that a call office (telephone kiosk) would be more expensive than a home telephone but surely the charging principles ought to be the same?
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Old 2nd Sep 2018, 6:32 pm   #12
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Default Re: GPO exchange codes for charging dockets

The non-coinbox lines which used 'multi-metering' are charged at the rate of 2 and a half pence per unit. However only the calls up to 5 miles could be dialled from a call-box during 'multi-metering' the cost being 4 pennies in 1957. Calls beyond the 5 mile limit were through the operator so were charged at the 'payphone' rate which was more than the 'self dialled' rate because of the extra cost of the operator. 4d for the first 'unit/distance' then 3d per additional 'unit/distance' after that so not much different.

In manual days, the system depended upon the type of exchange.

If it was a central battery exchange, you inserted the cost of the local call first, then picked up the receiver and the operator was called. You could speak to the operator and she would connect you and you pressed button ''A to deposit the money. This system was known as 'Pre-payment' (as was the automatic system for dialling calls).

For Central Battery Signalling manual exchanges and magneto exchanges, you just lifted the handset (and turned the handle on magneto) and the operator answered. You gave the number and she connected you and told you to deposit the correct fee. There was no Button A/B on these coinboxes - known as 'post-payment' .

See attached photos of one. This is the earlier version that is smaller than a 'renters' box. The later version was the same size as the standard kiosk A/B box (Box Coin Collection 14D) but had no buttons, only a refund 'tray' on the from and the 'Don't insert coins was a small label clamped under the standard 'Penny/sixpence/shilling' plate'. Both versions are rarely seen. The mechanism inside was the same (as per photo)
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Old 2nd Sep 2018, 7:44 pm   #13
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Default Re: GPO exchange codes for charging dockets

Thanks very much. I (almost) see what you mean about the charging - except it's 4-6-9-12 rather than 4-7-10-13. For the central battery exchange, what happened if it was a non-local call? Did you press button B to get the four pennies back then start again or did you pay the balance (presumably for the first three minutes)?
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Old 4th Sep 2018, 11:59 pm   #14
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Default Re: GPO exchange codes for charging dockets

Quote:
still exists today with the 1141 as part of its title.
Indeed it does! Exchanges still have an"1141" code, which is used for admin purposes, planning etc. They consist of a 3 letter code unique to each exchange, repeater station or transmitter site.
Someone told me once that most of the ones beginning with a "Y" are transmitter sites, as the "Y" is supposed to represent an aerial.

Some off the top of my head................

KMD Bath Kingsmead
ZEM Combe Down
BLX Bradford on Avon
FEJ Frome
SHU Shepton Mallet
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Old 5th Sep 2018, 10:52 am   #15
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Default Re: GPO exchange codes for charging dockets

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Originally Posted by Scott37 View Post
Thanks very much. I (almost) see what you mean about the charging - except it's 4-6-9-12 rather than 4-7-10-13. For the central battery exchange, what happened if it was a non-local call? Did you press button B to get the four pennies back then start again or did you pay the balance (presumably for the first three minutes)?
If you take the 'extra' one penny (operator 'extra') off the 'initial charge' (4d) then you end up with the 1,2,3 and 4 ratio. I didn't phrase it very well
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Old 5th Sep 2018, 12:14 pm   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim View Post
Quote:
still exists today with the 1141 as part of its title.
Indeed it does! Exchanges still have an"1141" code, which is used for admin purposes, planning etc. They consist of a 3 letter code unique to each exchange, repeater station or transmitter site.
Someone told me once that most of the ones beginning with a "Y" are transmitter sites, as the "Y" is supposed to represent an aerial.

Some off the top of my head................

KMD Bath Kingsmead
ZEM Combe Down
BLX Bradford on Avon
FEJ Frome
SHU Shepton Mallet
Good memory - they all check out.

Larger exchanges in my book have two letter codes such as CS - Chester, BE - Belfast etc. Others in same location had a / plus letter. i.e. CS was the original National Telephone Co 1906 manual exchange that house 'Chester' until it went 'auto' in 1950 - but the lower floor housed the eight position test desk and the group floor house transmission equipment. Hence it kept its code. The new auto over the road became CS/A, a small roadside repeater station on the outskirts of Chester was CS/B and the 'new' larger repeater station built not long after Chester went auto became CS/D. Never haver found where CS/C was?

In my list the 'Y' codes which were/are transmitter sites are all four letter codes beginning with a 'Y'. There are plenty of exchange and repeater station codes which begin with a 'Y' -
YAV Yetholm
YBL Ynysybwl
YCP Chapelton
YDD Heddon-on-the-Wall
YE Yealmpton
YM Yarmouth
YNS Yarnfield
YCTS Stone (Staffs) Central Training School
Last two will bring back memories for many ex-GPO/PO and BT engineers!

Others were Electricity related locations such as YMSM was Melksham 275Kv Sub Station. And YMTH was the HWQ of the British Electricity Authority at Milton Hall in East Anglia. YCWT was Butlins Holiday Camp at Chwilog in North Wales. A number of theatres had codes such as YCAP the Didsbury Theatre in Manchester !

Then there were other non-radio sites with a four letter 'Y' code such as Regents Park Zoo, London was YRPZ, YTNG was Tingley Gas Works of the North Eastern Gas Board .

Defence installations were in the 'Q' series - I looked after QCS (CS was the code for Chester) but they don't get listed . There however were ordinary exchanges/repeater stations with codes which started with a 'Q' such as QHR BeamishUAX near Durham.

Those four letter codes starting with TX are all Telex auto exchanges such as TXBE is Belfast Telex exchange and TXCS is Chester Telex exchange.

I've just come across another Post Office document that goes by the name of 'A3948 - Short Exchange Names' - a hundred page A5 booklet that appears to be for operators use as it lists all the Auto-Manual Centres (the switchboard reached when you dialled the operator) with their three digit numerical code. Also listed are the letter codes for each telephone area. The exchanges are all abbreviated to a maximum of eight letters - so Rhosllarchrugog ends up as RHSLNRGG or Castletown, Isle of Man becomes CSTLTN,M whilst Castletown, Caithness becomes CSRLTN,C . If the name was less than 8 characters or less, it remained the same.
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Old 5th Sep 2018, 3:26 pm   #17
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Default Re: GPO exchange codes for charging dockets

Quote:
YNS Yarnfield
YCTS Stone (Staffs) Central Training School
Last two will bring back memories for many ex-GPO/PO and BT engineers!
My old guv'nr used to joke that they called it "Stone" because that's how much weight you would put on after a two week course with all the free food!
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Old 8th Sep 2018, 11:44 am   #18
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Default Re: GPO exchange codes for charging dockets

Tim-don't forget the subsidised beer prices.
Looking at the "Y" prefix on station names, I always led to believe that "YAB" WOULD BE A RADIO STATION AT "AB"( FICTIONAL NAMES), whereas repeater stations started with the station name (e.g. AB/A) and each new one received the next letter in the alphabet as a /suffix. Any poster on here from a GPO/PO TRS background will remember the number of CEL 6 buildings ( same sixe as UAX ) that littered the main routes from town to town, each with their own building name .
From memory ( and not a lot of knowledge of those horrible places where things went clunk click = exchanges), I remember that the same code would be used without any suffixes for places with only one exchange.
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Old 8th Sep 2018, 3:26 pm   #19
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Default Re: GPO exchange codes for charging dockets

The codes applied to exchanges as well. All 'Y' codes were not radio stations as I mentioned in my post of the 5th Sept. I have one of the 1141 documents listing all the sites and I quoted a number of exchanges with Y codes including Yarnfield UAX12 near Stafford and CTS Stone so oved by many GPO/PO/BT engineers over the years - neither of which could be said to be 'radio stations'

The little buildings you refer to were 'CRS' - Coax Repeater Stations every 5 or 6 miles along routes between larger repeater stations interlinked by coaxial cable routes. They were very similar to an exchange 'A' type building used for 100 line UAX5's and the later UAX12's exchanges.

This is the one at Minera between Wrexham and Ruthin on the A525 - its code was ZCW/B on the coax route from Colwyn Bay to Wrexham..

ZCW was the then 'Coedpoeth' UAX13 a mile or so south - hard to find now unless you knew where it was! Spot the UAX building! It closed on 23 Feb 1977 when the lines became 'Wrexham' numbers off 'Wrexham 'North' satellite exchange a couple of miles away. The 'A' type building was quite small - this was Eccleston UAX5 just south of Chester - now a private garage.
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Old 16th Sep 2018, 1:12 am   #20
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Default Re: GPO exchange codes for charging dockets

> Someone told me once that most of the ones beginning with a "Y" are transmitter sites, as the "Y" is supposed to represent an aerial.

It was Y for WIreless and originally all Y sites related to wireless transmitting and receiving stations.

Later television transmitting stations were included in the Y category, radio and TV studio locations and microwave locations such as YTOW (the London Telecom Tower).

I was assure that YIYI was allocated to a Y location in Newcastle-upon-Tyne but my informant couldn't remember which one. It sounds highly appropriate though; why aye mon!
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