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Old 2nd Aug 2019, 2:32 pm   #1
Pellseinydd
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Default GPO Bakelite Phones - the end?

Does anyone know when the GPO or PO stopped purchasing new Bakelite telephones?

The Telephone 706 was introduced in 1959 (I remember seeing the very first one to arrive in the Chester Telephone Area being unwrapped in the Fitters' Room late in 1959). It is often quoted as 'replacing the Bakelite range' but that wasn't the case. The Tele 706/710 and wall version Tele 711 were offered as the 'Modern Telephone' and was supplied at an extra charge, no matter what colour, until the late 1960's. The 300 series was still the 'standard' telephone supplied until at least 1968 according the the Telephone Service Instructions I have for that time. I was certainly ordering Bakelite phones from the local stores into the late 1960's but from memory most were 'wipe-up's ' done locally or refurbished by the PO Factories Det at Cwmcarn.

However I recently bought a 200 type and some other bits and pieces.
There were two Bakelite Tele 164 handsets - one dated 1961 and the other dated 1966 !. The 1961 dated one had an unusual method that I've never seen during the sixty years since I joined the GPO ! Instead of the handset cord having a loop which hooks over a 'T shaped projection in the transmitter housing cavity. Interestingly, the cord (which had been cut ) was of the type fitted to Tele 164's used in public telephone kiosks on Tele 238's. The other handset dated 1961 was on a kiosk telephone that had been refurbished at the PO's Cwmcarn Factory Department in South Wales in 1972. It was fitted with the curly extensible black cord developed c1960 for the 200/300 series.

Any advances on 1966 for new Bakelite 200/300 series ?
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Old 2nd Aug 2019, 2:39 pm   #2
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Default Re: GPO Bakelite Phones - the end?

I joined POT in 1967 and I don't ever remember seeing a new Bakelite phone, replacements always came from wipe up.

I was on subs amp maintenance in 1968 and there was a 1.00 charge for a 700 type telephone. This upset some customers who would "accidently" break their Bakelite phone hoping to get a 700 type FOC.
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Old 3rd Aug 2019, 11:09 am   #3
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Default Re: GPO Bakelite Phones - the end?

That is how I seem to remember it. I was a TO for most of 1960's responsible for a large MoD installation (20 position manual board with hundreds of phones!) and used to order phones - mostly 300 types but 700 for senior officers (rank of colonel upwards were permitted a 'modern' telephone !) .

But these Telephone No 164 handsets are dated 1961 and 1966 - not Indian repro's. Too well made for the Indian ones. Just wondering if anyone-else has seen any dated in the 1960's?
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Old 3rd Aug 2019, 7:30 pm   #4
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Default Re: GPO Bakelite Phones - the end?

I think there were still a few strange circuits or plan arrangements where a 706 couldn't be adapted and a 2xx or 3xx had to be used? Not sure if the GPO ever used a magneto calling version of the 706, for instance.
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Old 5th Aug 2019, 3:49 pm   #5
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Default Re: GPO Bakelite Phones - the end?

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I think there were still a few strange circuits or plan arrangements where a 706 couldn't be adapted and a 2xx or 3xx had to be used? Not sure if the GPO ever used a magneto calling version of the 706, for instance.
GPO didn't use the 700 style with inbuilt transistorised ringer as produced by Ericssons - the N diagram shows a Tele 706 converted to local battery used in conjunction with a Bakelite cased Generator 26.

Bakelite phones survived for a long time often where the subscriber would let them go.

I was thinking more of the GPO purchasing new Bakelite telephones like those in the photos of the Tele 164s from the 1960's - one as late as 1966 !
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Old 20th Sep 2019, 10:02 am   #6
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Default Re: GPO Bakelite Phones - the end?

I was apprenticed to the GPO in 1967 and after training, became a T2A on subs app and line maintenance.
All the bakelite phones I encountered were black and it was only when we got a colour television in the late seventies that I discovered the 200 type phones came in a range of colours!
So I'm wondering if (at some point in the phasing out process) only the black 200s were sent to wipe-up and people with posh coloured bakelite phones were offered 700 types as replacements if beyond repair due to damage?
This might explain my experience.
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Old 20th Sep 2019, 12:14 pm   #7
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Default Re: GPO Bakelite Phones - the end?

We had a phone installed from scratch circa 1965 in our home on the London Leytonstone exchange; 0024 was our number. That was a black Bakelite phone with the dummy drawer. However my best mate had a new installation of a phone around the same time and he got a blue 706. He lived about half mile away but on the Raglan exchange.

How did we get such a low number, were old ones reissued?

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Old 20th Sep 2019, 2:16 pm   #8
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Default Re: GPO Bakelite Phones - the end?

I heard that subscribers had to pay an additional fee for Bakelite phones in any colour other than black.
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Old 20th Sep 2019, 10:53 pm   #9
Pellseinydd
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Default Re: GPO Bakelite Phones - the end?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Test Desk View Post
I was apprenticed to the GPO in 1967 and after training, became a T2A on subs app and line maintenance.
All the bakelite phones I encountered were black and it was only when we got a colour television in the late seventies that I discovered the 200 type phones came in a range of colours!
So I'm wondering if (at some point in the phasing out process) only the black 200s were sent to wipe-up and people with posh coloured bakelite phones were offered 700 types as replacements if beyond repair due to damage?
This might explain my experience.
By the mid 1960's, only the black Bakelite phones were still available for issue and then some versions such as a Tele232 mounted 'atop' a Bellset 26 weren't to be issued. However stocks of 'pillar' phones (better known as 'candlestick' phones) were still available to replace faulty ones (according to the Telephone Service Instructions of 1965 !). Both the 200 and 300 series came in Ivory, Red and Green and in the early days a mottles brown Bakelite colour known as 'Walnut' was also available but didn't last for long. Also available in painted Gold and Silver for a period Subscribers (as they were until PMG Ernest Marples changed them to be referred to as 'Customers' circa 1958/59) could also have a 200 type painted (at their expense) to any colour so long as they undertook to cover the cost of reverting it to its original colour when they cased to have the phone. A 'Modern' phone (colour didn't come into it) would be used to replace a Bakelite but sometimes it was chargeable as a 'Modern' phone but not under other circumstances. Quite complex working out exactly what the circumstances were! However as I looked after the system on MOD premises (another Government department), I just ordered what I wanted. Senior officers usually had coloured Bakelite ones from before the days of the 700 series but if a new senior officer wanted a different colour, I usually ordered a 700 type of the appropriate colour. Still got several unused coloured Bakelite 300 types in their boxes in my Moggie van!
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Old 20th Sep 2019, 11:01 pm   #10
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Default Re: GPO Bakelite Phones - the end?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard_FM View Post
I heard that subscribers had to pay an additional fee for Bakelite phones in any colour other than black.
Correct! And from 1959 until at least 1968, an extra fee was charged for a 'Modern' telephone (as the Sales Staff were told to refer to the 700 series phone) no matter what colour. Hence few residential folk wanted black - they tended to be in 'industrial' locations. The Bakelite telephone was referred to as a 'Standard' telephone and was the basic phone issued until at least 1968. But most folk wanted a 'modern' telephone hence the demise of the Bakelite. As I started this thread with the fact that I have a couple of Tele 164's (black Bakelite handsets) dated 1961 and 1966 on a couple of 200 types I acquired and was wondering when the GPO stopped purchasing Bakelite ?
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Old 21st Sep 2019, 12:23 pm   #11
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Default Re: GPO Bakelite Phones - the end?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pellseinydd View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Test Desk View Post
I was apprenticed to the GPO in 1967 and after training, became a T2A on subs app and line maintenance.
All the bakelite phones I encountered were black and it was only when we got a colour television in the late seventies that I discovered the 200 type phones came in a range of colours!
So I'm wondering if (at some point in the phasing out process) only the black 200s were sent to wipe-up and people with posh coloured bakelite phones were offered 700 types as replacements if beyond repair due to damage?
This might explain my experience.
By the mid 1960's, only the black Bakelite phones were still available for issue and then some versions such as a Tele232 mounted 'atop' a Bellset 26 weren't to be issued. However stocks of 'pillar' phones (better known as 'candlestick' phones) were still available to replace faulty ones (according to the Telephone Service Instructions of 1965 !). Both the 200 and 300 series came in Ivory, Red and Green and in the early days a mottles brown Bakelite colour known as 'Walnut' was also available but didn't last for long. Also available in painted Gold and Silver for a period Subscribers (as they were until PMG Ernest Marples changed them to be referred to as 'Customers' circa 1958/59) could also have a 200 type painted (at their expense) to any colour so long as they undertook to cover the cost of reverting it to its original colour when they cased to have the phone. A 'Modern' phone (colour didn't come into it) would be used to replace a Bakelite but sometimes it was chargeable as a 'Modern' phone but not under other circumstances. Quite complex working out exactly what the circumstances were! However as I looked after the system on MOD premises (another Government department), I just ordered what I wanted. Senior officers usually had coloured Bakelite ones from before the days of the 700 series but if a new senior officer wanted a different colour, I usually ordered a 700 type of the appropriate colour. Still got several unused coloured Bakelite 300 types in their boxes in my Moggie van!
That's almost worthy of a flow chart!

I've heard of phones being painted to another colour but didn't realise they were charged for removing the paint!

In the Second World War scrambler phones were black with green handsets, were any still around on MOD premises when you worked for them?
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Old 21st Sep 2019, 3:36 pm   #12
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Default Re: GPO Bakelite Phones - the end?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard_FM View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pellseinydd View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Test Desk View Post
I was apprenticed to the GPO in 1967 and after training, became a T2A on subs app and line maintenance.
All the bakelite phones I encountered were black and it was only when we got a colour television in the late seventies that I discovered the 200 type phones came in a range of colours!
So I'm wondering if (at some point in the phasing out process) only the black 200s were sent to wipe-up and people with posh coloured bakelite phones were offered 700 types as replacements if beyond repair due to damage?
This might explain my experience.
By the mid 1960's, only the black Bakelite phones were still available for issue and then some versions such as a Tele232 mounted 'atop' a Bellset 26 weren't to be issued. However stocks of 'pillar' phones (better known as 'candlestick' phones) were still available to replace faulty ones (according to the Telephone Service Instructions of 1965 !). Both the 200 and 300 series came in Ivory, Red and Green and in the early days a mottles brown Bakelite colour known as 'Walnut' was also available but didn't last for long. Also available in painted Gold and Silver for a period Subscribers (as they were until PMG Ernest Marples changed them to be referred to as 'Customers' circa 1958/59) could also have a 200 type painted (at their expense) to any colour so long as they undertook to cover the cost of reverting it to its original colour when they cased to have the phone. A 'Modern' phone (colour didn't come into it) would be used to replace a Bakelite but sometimes it was chargeable as a 'Modern' phone but not under other circumstances. Quite complex working out exactly what the circumstances were! However as I looked after the system on MOD premises (another Government department), I just ordered what I wanted. Senior officers usually had coloured Bakelite ones from before the days of the 700 series but if a new senior officer wanted a different colour, I usually ordered a 700 type of the appropriate colour. Still got several unused coloured Bakelite 300 types in their boxes in my Moggie van!
That's almost worthy of a flow chart!

I've heard of phones being painted to another colour but didn't realise they were charged for removing the paint!

In the Second World War scrambler phones were black with green handsets, were any still around on MOD premises when you worked for them?
Yes. We had a number of them - tended to be the version where several shared a single Privacy Set except for the higher ranking officers (Brigadiers, Major Generals and the GOC-in-C (a Lieutenant General). None of our handsets were painted green as some say(claim?)- they were green tele 164s with a green handset cord. Even had a portable Privacy Set with a couple of telephones for use when Royalty was in our part of the world. Now to be found on display at the 'Secret Bunker' near Nantwich Also looked after the cypher equipment which was not GPO kit but as we were 'on site' and available for callout we covered it. Although I was a GPO Technical Officer, I could sometime be found at work in the uniform of an Army officer wearing the badges of the Royal Signals - I had 'two hats'!

Re the painted coloured phones - the 'paint removal' fee only applied where the colour was painted to the subscriber's wishes. The gold and silver ones didn't attract the fee!

Must away, trying to find a Ring & Tones relay set for a PABX I want to get rid of. Buried somewhere at the back of the 'Stores'
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Old 21st Sep 2019, 11:05 pm   #13
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Default Re: GPO Bakelite Phones - the end?

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pellseinydd View Post


In the Second World War scrambler phones were black with green handsets, were any still around on MOD premises when you worked for them?
Yes. We had a number of them - tended to be the version where several shared a single Privacy Set except for the higher ranking officers (Brigadiers, Major Generals and the GOC-in-C (a Lieutenant General). None of our handsets were painted green as some say(claim?)- they were green tele 164s with a green handset cord. Even had a portable Privacy Set with a couple of telephones for use when Royalty was in our part of the world. Now to be found on display at the 'Secret Bunker' near Nantwich Also looked after the cypher equipment which was not GPO kit but as we were 'on site' and available for callout we covered it. Although I was a GPO Technical Officer, I could sometime be found at work in the uniform of an Army officer wearing the badges of the Royal Signals - I had 'two hats'!

Re the painted coloured phones - the 'paint removal' fee only applied where the colour was painted to the subscriber's wishes. The gold and silver ones didn't attract the fee!

Must away, trying to find a Ring & Tones relay set for a PABX I want to get rid of. Buried somewhere at the back of the 'Stores'
Thanks that's all very interesting.
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