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Old 14th Feb 2019, 11:01 am   #1
Sparks
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Default Telephone provision in high rise blocks of flats.

When tower blocks were built all over the UK in the 1960s, was it usual for each flat to automatically have its own individual phone line ? I would have thought not as it likely would have been a massive undertaking for the GPO. I expect provision of a payphone on each floor or in the entrance lobby would have been the case.

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Old 14th Feb 2019, 11:10 am   #2
M0FYA Andy
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Default Re: Telephone provision in high rise blocks of flats.

Although that was the era when the GPO owned all the telephone wiring, I would have thought that such a building would have been wired by the electricians fitting out the building, to a GPO spec, and then inspected and handed over to the GPO on completion?
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Old 14th Feb 2019, 11:17 am   #3
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Default Re: Telephone provision in high rise blocks of flats.

I once lived in a 1930s 5 storey private mansion block in London, and that had been wired for a telephone in every flat during construction. This was a modest block and not at the luxury end of the market.
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Old 14th Feb 2019, 11:24 am   #4
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Default Re: Telephone provision in high rise blocks of flats.

The building would have been cabled by Post Office Telephones using direct labour. Any trunking racking and conduit needed would have been provided by the building contractor, possibly using the electrical contractor who provided mains wiring to the building.
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Old 14th Feb 2019, 11:29 am   #5
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Default Re: Telephone provision in high rise blocks of flats.

To note, sometimes this didn't happen immediately. My grandmother lived in an early 70s build and they had no phones for the first three years she lived in there. Not sure if they were not wired or it was a trunking / exchange issue that caused it.

Incidentally my sister in law has just moved to a new build estate in early Jan and they don't have a phone service yet either because OpenReach didn't build a cabinet at the end of their road.

Less of an issue today but nice to see progress!
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Old 14th Feb 2019, 12:46 pm   #6
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Default Re: Telephone provision in high rise blocks of flats.

I can't imagine Trellick Tower or any other trendified relic not having megaspeed broadband these days. I'm seriously surprised that there was this level of provision fifty odd years ago. I wonder if local councils or corporations subsidised the installations ?
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Old 14th Feb 2019, 1:14 pm   #7
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Default Re: Telephone provision in high rise blocks of flats.

In the 1960's wiring up high rise blocks of flats would have been "old hat". since technicians were well used to wiring up multi storey office blocks.

What I remember most from that time is providing underground cabling etc. to new housing estates which were springing up all over the place. Trenches for ducts and cables would be dug by the developer's contractors, who liaised with Post Office Telephones' Housing Estate Liaison Officers or HELO's.
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Old 14th Feb 2019, 1:45 pm   #8
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Default Re: Telephone provision in high rise blocks of flats.

No individual phone lines were provided in either the high-rise or low-rise 1960's flats built in West Ham, nor were payphones provided in the lobbies. When vandalism had become a problem in the 1970's, individual intercoms were provided to operate the security entrance doors.
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Old 14th Feb 2019, 1:46 pm   #9
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Default Re: Telephone provision in high rise blocks of flats.

We own a 60's high-rise flat and I can say that it definitely was built with a GPO phone connection.

In fact I think the original one still exists. I will check next time I am there. I seem to remember a jack socket type of thing set into a wall, no longer used of course.
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Old 14th Feb 2019, 1:54 pm   #10
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Default Re: Telephone provision in high rise blocks of flats.

Thankyou for your replies everyone. Most interesting.
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Old 15th Feb 2019, 9:14 am   #11
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Default Re: Telephone provision in high rise blocks of flats.

As a TTA in 1981 I spent part of my time on 'Subs-Apps' wiring in a new housing estate in South London while it was being built.
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Old 15th Feb 2019, 10:17 am   #12
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Default Re: Telephone provision in high rise blocks of flats.

The tower blocks that I worked on in the 80's had DP on every 4th floor in the risers that backed on to the bathrooms with a draw wire if you were lucky to a plate in the flat . The main problem was that the toilet also went down the riser and not all the pipes were water tight !!!!


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Old 15th Feb 2019, 11:05 am   #13
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Default Re: Telephone provision in high rise blocks of flats.

In my 30s block the wiring came up a riser in the centre of the flat which also carried water, drainage and heating. It was definitely original 30s wiring. When I bought the flat it had been refurbished by the freeholder and no phone was installed, so I've no idea if the flats were originally all fitted with phones (the block was originally built for rent to lower middle class residents). There was no socket or PO junction box, just the cable behind a panel. I remember the BT wireman moaning about it when my NTE socket was being installed.
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Old 15th Feb 2019, 1:05 pm   #14
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Default Re: Telephone provision in high rise blocks of flats.

When I was very young we lived in an estate that had some houses that were still being built.
There was no phone to start with but later they installed poles and we had a phone put in.
The road was also a dirt track and was made up at about the same time along with mains drainage so we were able to dispense with the noisy smelly lorry once every three months.
I have a feeling that the house builders left it to the residents to pay the fixed fee for the new install at each home.
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Old 15th Feb 2019, 5:22 pm   #15
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Default Re: Telephone provision in high rise blocks of flats.

Can someone please tell me what a DP and a riser is ? Thankyou.
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Old 15th Feb 2019, 5:34 pm   #16
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Default Re: Telephone provision in high rise blocks of flats.

DP - distribution point (junction box) on top of a pole, side of a building or in a services cupboard inside the building

Riser - a duct carrying main services up a multistorey building
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Old 15th Feb 2019, 10:24 pm   #17
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Default Re: Telephone provision in high rise blocks of flats.

My grandmother lived in the ground floor of a two story block, and when I wired a bedroom extension for her, I discovered that the second pair of wires in the "lozenge" junction box in her meter cupboard, served another flat.
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Old 16th Feb 2019, 9:20 am   #18
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Default Re: Telephone provision in high rise blocks of flats.

Thankyou OscarFoxtrot.
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Old 16th Feb 2019, 12:31 pm   #19
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Default Re: Telephone provision in high rise blocks of flats.

My understanding was that it was up to each to each tenant to request and pay the GPO for a telephone if they wanted one, but that the basic infrastructure was put in place when the flats were built.
If the tenant wanted a phone, installation was simple since the cables from the exchange were already existing and terminated either in each flat or at some nearby point.

When my late grandparents purchased a flat in the mid 1960s, telephone wiring was already in place, and installation/connection of a telephone was available for half the usual price if booked when buying the flat, rather than being done later.
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Old 16th Feb 2019, 8:35 pm   #20
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Default Re: Telephone provision in high rise blocks of flats.

I guess ~~it depends~~ in times-past I had to provision voice/data to a 6-storey apartment-block in London's "Museum district" that had been bought by a QUANGO: they wanted a couple of RS232 outlets along with a Thinwire Ethernet outlet and a couple of phone-sockets in each office/room.

The premises had been built in the 1840s and were Grade-1 Listed - meaning we couldn't do anything that would disrupt the oak-panelling in the rooms or the marble floors/staircases in the lobby. We managed it, but it was not easy; fortunately there were plenty of "Servants' staircases" and behind-the-scenes accesses we could use. Along with a few forgotten paths that contained ancient and now redundant small-bore lead gas-pipes that once fed 'batswing' light-fittings which could be drawn-out to provide cable routes. But it still cost an order-of-magnitude more than what a new-build would have cost.

I gather that a couple of decades later the routes we identified were stripped-out and refitted with Cat5 cable for modern power-over-Ethernet VoIP-phones.
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