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Hull Telephones - Chronology

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Development of the Department

  • Hull's first exchange was opened on 28 November 1904.
  • The first automatic exchange was opened in 1922.
  • Step-by-step switching was introduced in 1934 and eventually installed throughout the area.
  • Recorded information services, with the exception of the speaking clock, were first introduced to the UK in Hull in 1952 when they had Santa Claus on the telephone. In 1985 they were running 14 services, including a job line and 2 local radio lines.
  • In 1975 the old Western Electric Rotary equipment was phased out, and because it was the last of its kind in the UK, it was handed to the Science Museum in Kensington, London.
  • Central line-testing equipment was introduced in 1982.
  • The hand-over of the first System X exchange took place on 28 November 1984, exactly 80 years, to the minute, after the opening of the very first exchange in Hull.
  • During 1985 a 1,000-port telex exchange with Single Channel Voice Frequency and a new Operations & Maintenance Centre for System X became operational. Also during 1985 a packet switching exchange was installed to handle data transmissions in conjunction with the rapidly expanding optical fibre network.
  • By the end of 1988 all the Strowger equipment will have been replaced, the TXE2 mobiles will have been retired leaving only two Crossbar exchanges to be replaced in the future.
  • As part of the introduction of System X in 1984, one of the most significant effects to Hull's customers since, has been the elimination of party line sharing.

This article was kindly contributed by the BT Archives and Historical Information Centre.

  • 1882 A vote by the city's businessmen showed only 28 out of its 600 members supported the installation of a telephone service.
  • 1900s Local authorities were asked to bid for telephone licences. 55 out of 1334 expressed an interest.
  • 1902 Hull Corporation, part of the City Council was granted its first licence to operate telephone services in the Kingston upon Hull Area.
  • 1903 The Telephone Committee appointed its first manager to look after the network, Mr T Holme. He had experience of telephone networks as he was financial controller of the Portsmouth Telephone Department.
  • 1904 The Hull Telephone Department opens its first exchange at the former Trippett Street Baths.
  • 1911 Across the UK, the Postmaster General had secured a monopoly by buying out the National Telephone network. Many of the other local authority services had disappeared following bad planning or commercial failure.
  • 1914 On renewal of their telephone licence, Hull's bid was conditional on the purchase of National Telephone networks infrastructure at a cost of £192,423. The council approved the purchase and the sole municipally owned corporation survived and prospered.
  • 1947 The first combined classified and alphabetical listing listing was produced . Directory information was transferred from works orders and transposed onto a master copy. Once the annual edition had be sent to print, the department immediately began updating the next copy.
  • 1952 This year saw the launch of Information Services following a request from Cllr. J.M.Stamper. On a visit to Vienna, he can across a recorded children's story service. The Hull Corporation introduced a Christmas Story line with over 18,000 calls from children who could listen to the sound of sleigh bells and a Christmas message from Santa Claus. This service still continues today and has expanded to include recipes, the speaking clock and a guide to local attractions.
  • 1954 To celebrate the Hull Corporation Golden Jubilee in 1954, the Golden Pages, a forerunner to the Yellow Pages®, was distributed with the classified section printed on gold paper.
  • 1961 With an ever growing business, the company began the building of Telephone House. Its new headquarters for administrative staff.
  • 1964 The new head office opened its doors for the first time. Facilities included a shop for people to pay their telephone bills.
  • 1967 saw pigeon fanciers being given a lift with the launch of a Pigeon Liberation Service. This allowed fanciers to find out the times the birds would be released and wind conditions. The service received a record 41,000 callers in 1986.
  • 1987 The Hull City Telephone Department became Kingston Communications (HULL) PLC, a company in its own right. The council still retained its 100% share holding in the company.
  • 1989 The company completed its network conversion to create the first all digital network in the UK.
  • 1998 KC began to offer services outside its network area, providing a services to the towns and villages of East Yorkshire. The demand for KC's low cost service was high.
  • 1999 The Kingston Communications Group makes its debut on the Stock Exchange with a partial flotation. The City Council retains a 44.9 per cent stake in the company.
  • 2004 Hull Telephones celebrates its Centenary Year as Kingston Communications.

Images on this page courtesy of: Neil Carpenter © 2004
www.antiquetelephones.net


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A very special thanks to Hull Local Studies Library for their help with our research projects.