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Old 29th Oct 2023, 1:12 pm   #1
G6Tanuki
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Default GPO/Post Office Telephones.

With the coming of fibre-optic communications locally, I've also been paying more attention to 'streetworks' and infrastructure from times past.

I still occasionally see some of the square duct-covers marked "Post Office Telephones" - these are the kind with a castellated metal surround and a concrete infill, sometimes with a circular cast metal vent in the centre.

But locally I have also spotted an old cast-iron green street-cabinet that has GPO moulded into the front edge of the top cover.

I wonder when the transition took place between GPO and Post Office Telephones?
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Old 29th Oct 2023, 11:06 pm   #2
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Default Re: GPO/Post Office Telephones.

About 1931

from
https://www.lightstraw.uk/gpo/telephones/index.html

1912 GPO/Post Office Telephones

From 1st January 1912 the General Post Office became the monopoly supplier of telephone services with the exception of the remaining municipal services in Hull, Portsmouth and Guernsey. The term ‘GPO Engineer in Chief’ was displayed on vehicles used for telephone duties, as well as ‘Post Office Engineering Depart.’, though from about 1931, ‘Post Office Telephones’ became the recognised name. However, ‘GPO Telephones’ and ‘PO Telephones’ were also used in the marking of joint boxes covers, equipment and stores.

Reading that, I think it's safe to treat the two names interchangeably.
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Old 30th Oct 2023, 12:26 pm   #3
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Default Re: GPO/Post Office Telephones.

Post Office Telephones? There's modern! There're still a few Post Office Telegraphs duct covers around here, although they're interchangeable in size and there's no guarantee that what I've photographed (John Street, Workington) covered a pure telegraphic circuit.
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Old 31st Oct 2023, 11:55 am   #4
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Default Re: GPO/Post Office Telephones.

My father worked for PO Engineering (I seem to remember it as POEE for some reason?) from 1936 to 1976. As we drove around the country on holidays and days out, he used to point out UAXs and old poles in particular (there are still some telegraph poles from the 1920s with ornate finials at the top in Horsforth, Leeds - I must photograph one before they take them away!), and tell us how poles were selected for the traffic they carried, modifications made to specific poles and of course, the difference between a K4 and a K6 telephone box. After he retired, he continued to get the PO Engineering Journal, and I remember him sadly telling me one day in the 1990s that for the first time, he hadn't understood a single article in the journal....
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Old 31st Oct 2023, 12:24 pm   #5
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Default Re: GPO/Post Office Telephones.

Hello,

To quote from Wikipedia:-

The GPO was abolished by the Post Office Act 1969, which transferred its assets to the Post Office, so changing it from a Department of State to a statutory corporation. Responsibility for telecommunications was given to Post Office Telecommunications, the successor of the GPO Telegraph and Telephones department. In 1980, the telecommunications and postal sides were split prior to British Telecommunications' conversion into a totally separate publicly owned corporation the following year as a result of the British Telecommunications Act 1981. The postal service was transferred to Royal Mail.

Yours, Richard
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Old 31st Oct 2023, 2:05 pm   #6
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Default Re: GPO/Post Office Telephones.

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Originally Posted by 60136 Alcazar View Post
(I seem to remember it as POEE for some reason?).
are you thinking of the IPOEE?
That was the Institute of Post Office Electrical Engineers.
The IPOEE Journal was highly respected in industry, very deep and complex, essential reading for any upcoming promotion interview...

If you've 10 minutes to spare, take a stroll around the ATE and the TEC... https://www.lightstraw.uk/gpo/telephones/index.html

Phil (BT lifer)
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Old 1st Nov 2023, 7:14 pm   #7
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Default Re: GPO/Post Office Telephones.

Yes Phil- that was it!! Thanks for clearing up my memory! Interesting website as well.
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Old 16th Nov 2023, 11:39 pm   #8
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Default Re: GPO/Post Office Telephones.

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Hello,

To quote from Wikipedia:-

The GPO was abolished by the Post Office Act 1969, which transferred its assets to the Post Office, so changing it from a Department of State to a statutory corporation. Responsibility for telecommunications was given to Post Office Telecommunications, the successor of the GPO Telegraph and Telephones department. In 1980, the telecommunications and postal sides were split prior to British Telecommunications' conversion into a totally separate publicly owned corporation the following year as a result of the British Telecommunications Act 1981. The postal service was transferred to Royal Mail.

Yours, Richard
Most possibly true in principle, but I joined GPO telephones in Dec 1966 as an apprentice ( I always remembered it as TTA) and as I had more qualifications etc my time as a TTA was cut to 2 years. Nothing major happened till circa 1971/2 when GPO changed name to PO(T), along with changes to pension scheme. I always remember asking for a new donkey jacket pre 1971( year I got married) to be asked where my GPO lapel badges were and my boss could not work out how open wires had frayed the stitching. Mind you, after that time I was acting TO in charge of a repeater station and I was "too green" to handle call outs for TRS, but constantly got calls from Auto blokes to fix faults , remotely on TRS ALARMS.
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Old 17th Nov 2023, 11:10 am   #9
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Default Re: GPO/Post Office Telephones.

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Most possibly true in principle, but I joined GPO telephones in Dec 1966 as an apprentice ( I always remembered it as TTA) and as I had more qualifications etc my time as a TTA was cut to 2 years. Nothing major happened till circa 1971/2 when GPO changed name to PO(T), along with changes to pension scheme. I always remember asking for a new donkey jacket pre 1971( year I got married) to be asked where my GPO lapel badges were and my boss could not work out how open wires had frayed the stitching. Mind you, after that time I was acting TO in charge of a repeater station and I was "too green" to handle call outs for TRS, but constantly got calls from Auto blokes to fix faults , remotely on TRS ALARMS.
I was a Technical Officer in 1969 and remember the change and things certainly did change over to 'Post Office Telephones' but bear in mind that items still in stock would not had been scrapped if they had 'GPO ...' on them.
Most people don't differentiate between the names/organisations. You've only got to look at eBay descriptions of telephones!

There was one manufacturer still supplying brand new 'Block Terminals 52A' to the wider liberalised telecoms industry in the 1980's with 'GPO' in raised letters on the covers - not ex-GPO ones as they were white - a colour the GPO never had.
.
I have a vast quantity of original telephones documentation - the likes of old dialling code books. They certainly ceased having 'GPO Telephones' logo and any mention of 'GPO Telephones'. For instance the 1970 Stafford code book is 'POST OFFICE' on the front cover rather than 'GPO'logo on the front and its publication date is '11/69' according to the printer's details on the back page.

I've also looked at telephone directories in 1969. Take the Northampton directory - printers imprint gives date as 10/69 and no GPO logo on the front - just says 'POST OFFICE TELEPHONE DIRECTORY ...' in capital letters. Same with Birminham area directory - same October date and POST OFFICE TELEPHONES...' Only the Bedford area's directory still had the GPO logo on in October 1969 and only other one was the November 1969 Bournemouth directory. By 1970 all directories were 'POST OFFICE TELEPHONES' on the front cover.
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Old 17th Nov 2023, 2:09 pm   #10
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Default Re: GPO/Post Office Telephones.

Some fascinating detail emerging here; from the above comments I guess the GPO-marked green street-cabinet must date from the early-70s or before.

I will try and get a photo of it over the weekend.
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Old 19th Nov 2023, 2:36 pm   #11
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Default Re: GPO/Post Office Telephones.

I have a set of the 'N' Diagrams here, which also make interesting reading.
They are in folders marked Post Office, but retrospectively they go back a long way. Obviously with some reprints, on different card colours to the originals.
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Old 19th Nov 2023, 4:12 pm   #12
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Default Re: GPO/Post Office Telephones.

Wonder what happened to all the TI's and EI documents? They were available on microfiche so maybe they survived in some digital archive somewhere...
I joined as a TTA in 72, it was Post Office Telephones at the time. It was an amazing apprenticeship the like of which you'll never see again
TO in Trunk Auto, then Transit, then MAC , then PC's arrived on everyones desk, then networks (as in Cisco), retired at 52 as a Senior Network & Security Designer.
My original 81's, strippers & Lindström 'nippers diagonal cutting' are still hard at work every day We used to call them our knife, fork & spoon
Was it here we were recently discussing 'tag rash' from working on frames?
Re cabinets, boxes etc, bear in mind that as a Government Office there would be years worth of stock bearing old logos!

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Old 19th Nov 2023, 4:42 pm   #13
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Default Re: GPO/Post Office Telephones.

Here are a couple of pix of the "GPO" green street-cabinet.

The cast iron top is rather rusty, but I guess it's still in use. There are several powered FTTC-type pressed-steel cabinets alongside. I guess that in times-past the little elongated-oval thing below the raised GPO moulding might have carried some sort of cabinet-designation applique.

Inside, it's no doubt full of tangled yellow-and-blue twin-twisted interconnecting patch-leads and the domed-end-sheathed-with-white-plastic jelly-crimps that were used in the last century.

I wonder what will become of these things over the next half-decade; they'll clearly be redundant once FTTP and/or 5G takes over from POTS copper-circuits?
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Old 19th Nov 2023, 9:12 pm   #14
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Default Re: GPO/Post Office Telephones.

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Originally Posted by Phil__G View Post
Wonder what happened to all the TI's and EI documents? They were available on microfiche so maybe they survived in some digital archive somewhere...
I joined as a TTA in 72, it was Post Office Telephones at the time. It was an amazing apprenticeship the like of which you'll never see again
TO in Trunk Auto, then Transit, then MAC , then PC's arrived on everyones desk, then networks (as in Cisco), retired at 52 as a Senior Network & Security Designer.
My original 81's, strippers & Lindström 'nippers diagonal cutting' are still hard at work every day We used to call them our knife, fork & spoon
Was it here we were recently discussing 'tag rash' from working on frames?
Re cabinets, boxes etc, bear in mind that as a Government Office there would be years worth of stock bearing old logos!
I've got 8ft of shelving full of different editions of N diagrams going back to some of the original ones of 1917. Some relate to individual subscribers giving their numbers as part of the the N diagram! They relate to telephones on the one and only 'Lorimer' automatic system the GPO every had - opened at Hereford on 1 Oct 1914 but only lasted a few years. In 1960 the GO sent a few apprentices to clear the basement of 'Crown House' in the centre of Chester after the occupants had moved to the new TMO building. There was a big box of N diagrams that had been there for many years - I asked the 'Assistant Engineer'(Level 2 in later years') if I could have them and was told 'Yes' and that is how my collection started 63 years ago. Since acquired original copies of the 1909, 1899 and other sets back to the 1886 set. Over the years I have acquired TI's and EI's running to several hundred volumes. The oldest TI I've got dates from 1909. Most folk don't realise that TI's existed in bound volumes up to c1930 when the GPO converted them to loose leaf binders. Then when the PO came into being in 1969, they changed them to TI's and renumbered them into a different scheme
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Old 25th Nov 2023, 3:01 pm   #15
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Default Re: GPO/Post Office Telephones.

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Originally Posted by 60136 Alcazar View Post
(I seem to remember it as POEE for some reason?)
You could also be thinking of POEJ ( A magazine for IPOEE members et al) , with its insert of various selected test papers from C & G exams, or POEU (PO Engineers Union)
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Old 28th Nov 2023, 9:20 am   #16
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Default Re: GPO/Post Office Telephones.

I remember starting my apprenticeship in around 68/9, can’t remember exactly where we went on the first couple of days, possibly Faraday but what I fo remember I’d being presented with a huge pile of EI/TI’s along with a tool bag and wondering how the hell I was going to get them home on the train back down to Kent. Was a great apprenticeship, was pleased when I finished all my day release at UKC, along came System X and London City Area wanted a lot of us gone, was a shock to go into the real world!.
Walked past Faraday and the Citadel last year, wonder what’s left in there?
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Old 29th Nov 2023, 1:52 pm   #17
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Default Re: GPO/Post Office Telephones.

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Originally Posted by G6Tanuki View Post
Some fascinating detail emerging here; from the above comments I guess the GPO-marked green street-cabinet must date from the early-70s or before.

I will try and get a photo of it over the weekend.
I started in 1966 and cabinets were around then. But cabinet records AFAIK were something to be believed if you felt lucky ( ie not accurate at any time of year).
I remember spending my time during the very first postal strike, alternating between verifying spare pairs from exchange to the local cabinets and replacing insulators on seaside beaches.
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