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Old 2nd Jun 2020, 10:41 am   #1
Pellseinydd
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Default End of an Era?

There is often much info about the introduction of something but rarely anything about it demise.

Does anyone know when the BT 'Radiophone' service that started in September 1959 in South Lancashire/North Cheshire where it was possible to have a 'telephone' (in the loosest of terms! ) on the GPO public telephone network in your car.

It was then extended to the London area and over the years expanded and evolved such that the last version known as 'System 4' appeared around 1980 with the ability to dial out from the car as well as be directly dialled from any PSTN telephone.

But of course the 1980's saw the introduction of the 'modern' mobile phone networks and the 1985 BT engineers strike did much to publicise the new cellular 'mobile' phone networks.

The last mention I can find of the BT 'Radiophone' network is in a 1989 telephone directory where it mentions how BT offered the 'System 4' network of mobile telephones as well as 'Cellnet' cellular phone network.

But I can find no reference to the 'System 4' network's demise (switch-off date) .

Anyone any idea?

Likewise the same goes for the 'Pay on Answer' payphones - the Tele 705 introduced in 1959 and its 'renters' version the Box Coin Collecting No 700.

When was the POA service last in use?

I know there were several Tele 705's in use in a 'Hall of Residence' at the University College of North Wales at Bangor in the early 1990's. By the early 1980's, modern electronic payphones had arrived which were 'self contained' whereas the POA payphones needed racks of 'Strowger' type equipment in the exchange - even TXE4 introduced in 1973 had them. Only one exchange to my knowledge ever had solid state 'coin & fee checking' equipment at the exchange for providing the POA payphone service - that was the UXE7 (effectively a 50 line TXE2 in a single 2m high rack) introduced in the early 1980's by BT who only bought 12 of them which were all fitted in the Highlands of Scotland. I must try and get C&FC 'cards' I've got from the last UXE7 (Diabaig) in service working.

But more to the point - when were the last POA payphones in use?

Or are the above to be two more 'unanswered questions'?
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Old 2nd Jun 2020, 5:49 pm   #2
rambo1152
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Default Re: End of an Era?

The idea that the last POA payphones were in University halls tallies with my experience too.

I remember seeing a row of them in that setting, and almost rubbing my eyes in disbelief, but I can't remember where unfortunately.
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Old 3rd Jun 2020, 5:19 pm   #3
Granitehill
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Default Re: End of an Era?

There's a useful history of the BT Carphone service at :
http://cellnet.illtyd.co.uk/carphone-1959
Most of your questions should be answered there.

I maintained the base station end of the "System 3" in the North of Scotland from about 1977 on. Five VHF FM channels with Pye T100FM transmitters (forced-air cooled QQV06-40 in the PA, and Storno receivers as I remember). It closed down about 1980 and was replaced by System 4 based on German TeKaDe kit.
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Old 7th Jun 2020, 12:03 am   #4
Hermitcrab
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Default Re: End of an Era?

I too have wondered when the last POA payphones were in use, I would have thought about 1988 and was surprised that some were still in use in the 1990's. These would have been renters' coinboxes of course, the last public POA's went in 1987.

Interesting fact about POA coinboxes: international calls were only possible from them to European countries and not further afield. However in around 1986 international dialling from the now dying POA's was extended to North America. Quite why, I am not sure as you would need a sackful of 10p pieces and each would only last a few seconds.
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Old 7th Jun 2020, 12:55 pm   #5
rambo1152
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Default Re: End of an Era?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermitcrab View Post
Interesting fact about POA coinboxes: international calls were only possible from them to European countries and not further afield. However in around 1986 international dialling from the now dying POA's was extended to North America. Quite why, I am not sure as you would need a sackful of 10p pieces and each would only last a few seconds.
I think several 10p coins could be pre inserted and stored in escrow, I can't remember how many.
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