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Old 26th Jun 2020, 10:03 pm   #1
Sparks
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Default GPO 706, 746 etc. Did subscribers get to choose their colour ?

The reason I ask is when I visited other people's houses in the 70s and early 80s, I only remember seeing grey or ivory telephones. One of my friends' parents only had an ivory 741 on the kitchen wall. Nothing in the hall or living room. I wonder if they had any say in that ? Another friend, not far away, had a grey table phone but I'm fairly certain it wasn't even a GPO model - probably Swedish or French! As for us, we were a bit more fortunate as our one and only telephone was a green 706 but it had a rubber foot missing all the time we had it. When it conked out, it was replaced by a 746 in...ivory. I only ever saw one blue and one yellow table phone in people's houses, never a red or black. Or brown.

Who got all the red and black telephones, and the blues and yellows ? Mysterious.
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Old 26th Jun 2020, 10:11 pm   #2
ThePillenwerfer
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Default Re: GPO 706, 746 etc. Did subscribers get to choose their colour ?

A relative of mine didn't have a telephone until the late 1970s and when one was installed she was given the choice of ivory or black. She chose the former.

I saw a few green ones in the wild and an elderly neighbour, who never went onto plugs and sockets, retained an ivory, a red and a green 706L well into the 1990s. They were the only Ls I recall seeing in service as Sheffield wasn't a director area so how she ended-up with those I've no idea.

We had a black 746, and I think it was the early body-style, until 1992.

I don't recall seeing any blue ones.
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Old 26th Jun 2020, 10:16 pm   #3
Peter.N.
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Default Re: GPO 706, 746 etc. Did subscribers get to choose their colour ?

We has a two tone green one in the '60s (or it might have been grey).

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Old 26th Jun 2020, 10:33 pm   #4
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Default Re: GPO 706, 746 etc. Did subscribers get to choose their colour ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sparks View Post
The reason I ask is when I visited other people's houses in the 70s and early 80s, I only remember seeing grey or ivory telephones. One of my friends' parents only had an ivory 741 on the kitchen wall. Nothing in the hall or living room. I wonder if they had any say in that ? Another friend, not far away, had a grey table phone but I'm fairly certain it wasn't even a GPO model - probably Swedish or French! As for us, we were a bit more fortunate as our one and only telephone was a green 706 but it had a rubber foot missing all the time we had it. When it conked out, it was replaced by a 746 in...ivory. I only ever saw one blue and one yellow table phone in people's houses, never a red or black. Or brown.

Who got all the red and black telephones, and the blues and yellows ? Mysterious.
The choice was up to the customer as they had to pay an 'extra fee' for whatever colour 700 type they had. Contrary to popular believe, the Tele 706 did not 'replace' the Tele 332 for at least ten years. The 'standard instrument' rented until at least the late 1960's was the 300 type. If you wanted what we refer to as the Tle706/711/712 and later versions, the GPO Sales Division referred to them as a 'Modern Telephone' for which there was an extra charge for no matter what colour you had.

Some colours were limited on Plan numbers and wall versions of 711/741 were only available in Black/Ivory/TwoTone Grey.

Hence not many wanted black and they tended to get fitted in factories. Offices tended to go for grey whilst residential went for red, ivory or two-tone green. Brown 746's were a much later introduction (to match the Ambassador/Senator PBX rage) and was known as the 'Yeoman' telephone.

Blue accounted for about two per cent of those fitted and yellow as around three per cent - hence the rarity of both those colours.

The reference in the early part of the above about colours/model names, I have taken from my copies of the 'Telephone Service Instructions' of the 1960's.

Plus when the Tele706 was introduced I was a newly started apprentice on 'fitting' and saw the first Tele 706 unwrapped in the Chester Telephone Area - complete with a metal dial and a 'grebe' fabric covered handset cord! Those were the day.
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Old 26th Jun 2020, 10:52 pm   #5
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Default Re: GPO 706, 746 etc. Did subscribers get to choose their colour ?

When I had the phone installed circa 1977, my house already had a drop wire and terminal block but no phone. I was offered a choice of colours and chose a black one. When i got married and moved house, a green phone was already installed (an earler model without the hand grip between the on hook switches). The bell stopped working a few years later (the shaft of the hammer broke). The BT engineer said we could have a replacement wired-in dial phone, or he could fit a modern socket and give us a push button phone, no extra charge. We chose the latter, and he let us keep the broken phone, which became a silent extension for the bedroom.
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Old 26th Jun 2020, 11:06 pm   #6
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Default Re: GPO 706, 746 etc. Did subscribers get to choose their colour ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ThePillenwerfer View Post
A relative of mine didn't have a telephone until the late 1970s and when one was installed she was given the choice of ivory or black. She chose the former.

I saw a few green ones in the wild and an elderly neighbour, who never went onto plugs and sockets, retained an ivory, a red and a green 706L well into the 1990s. They were the only Ls I recall seeing in service as Sheffield wasn't a director area so how she ended-up with those I've no idea.

We had a black 746, and I think it was the early body-style, until 1992.

I don't recall seeing any blue ones.
All Tele 706's had a lettered external dial ring until after the mid 1960's as the letters were needed for 'Subscriber Trunk Dialling' where the STD code consisted of the 'access' digit 0 followed by two letters and one or more numerical digits - hence Chester was 0CH 4 , Leeds 0LE 2 etc..

The change to 'all figure numbering' started in the mid-1960's and the letters in the STD codes vanished c1966 with the letters in Director areas the year later. A lot of the modern Tele 746's have reproduction letter ring around the outside of the dial to make them more 'attractive' to purchasers who aren't interested in accuracy. A lot of 700 Teles now being sold aren't in original condition having been rebuilt to make them more attractive.
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Old 26th Jun 2020, 11:58 pm   #7
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Default Re: GPO 706, 746 etc. Did subscribers get to choose their colour ?

The heat must have got to my brain; that and the fact that all the 706s that have crossed my path in recent years have lost their lettered rings due to refurbishment.

I’ve been thinking and can only recall seeing 746s in private houses, apart from those referred to above. Obviously as a child I didn’t know what was what but have a life-long interest in things electrical and electronic so took more notice of such things than normal. I do recall visiting my Dad at work and noticing that some of the ‘phones there were different to ours at home; very similar but somehow more old-fashioned. I now know these were 706s, or a private company's version thereof. I’m therefore sure that I’d have spotted other different ones.

I’ve got a very dim memory from around the time I’d have been starting school (1975) of my Dad using the ‘phone in a boarding house we were staying at in Bournemouth to order a taxi to take us to the station and it being what I now know to be 312. The landlady told him to press the button on the top before dialling. That was the only Bakelite one I ever encountered.

I’m also sure I never saw a Trimphone in service.
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Old 27th Jun 2020, 7:56 am   #8
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Default Re: GPO 706, 746 etc. Did subscribers get to choose their colour ?

What is a 'Director Area' and what bearing did it have on the colour of telephone you got ?

I suppose the thing with the ivory phone is, like magnolia walls in new houses, it blends in with everything so was probably an inoffensive choice, if a little dull. However, I can't imagine why anyone would want a grey telephone in their home. It does the job but belongs in an office! Our old green 706 went through a few changes of decor and room location over the years and never clashed - I suppose we just got used to it.

Worth bearing in mind that to be 'on the telephone' was still considered something of a status symbol up until about forty years ago so many subscribers would be happy with whatever they were given.
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Old 27th Jun 2020, 8:05 am   #9
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Default Re: GPO 706, 746 etc. Did subscribers get to choose their colour ?

I started work for GPO in 1979 and soon was a man installer and I had on my van ( old Commer space van) and I had a a lot of telephones of all colours and types ( trimphones 741 wall and 746 type ) and it was up to the subscriber what colour they wanted ( I was very busy as there was a 6 to 12 week weighting list) If only I had all those phones now they would make a small fortune


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Old 27th Jun 2020, 9:43 am   #10
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Default Re: GPO 706, 746 etc. Did subscribers get to choose their colour ?

Dave, what do you remember being the most popular colour for domestic installations?

As well as the matter of colour, I expect after a few years of the 706 and 746 being in service, there was no guarantee one would receive a brand new instrument.
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Old 27th Jun 2020, 10:17 am   #11
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Default Re: GPO 706, 746 etc. Did subscribers get to choose their colour ?

Time to close this thread before it becomes yet another off topic discussion about motor vehicles.
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