Australian Post Office
Telephone No. 237

Telephone, Automatic, Wall

Wooden wall telephone that was supplied as Automatic or Central Battery versions.  Introduced around 1939, this telephone was introduced to use up the existing stock of Bellsets and became the standard wall telephone at that time.  All telephones were refurbished.

Models 237AW and 237CBW incorporated the new Bakelite handsets on a modified switch hook.  Older phones were completely stripped, cleaned and refurbished, as they had to compete with the newer Bakelite models.  Metalwork was replaced where necessary, and the newer No. 10 dial was added.  A new black rayon anti-twist cord was fitted.  The PMG had a large stock of earlier Type 37s and bell boxes recovered from redundant candlestick phones and this was an economic way to use them.  The refinished phones were very attractive in their wood grained maple, oak and walnut timbers.  On converted Type 37s the dial hole was already in the lower part of the door so the transmitter holes were filled or plugged with small wooden plugs.

The 37 series remained the standard auto wall phone until the early 1950s. At this point Bakelite phones took over.

An unusual Telephone No. 237 with no bells fitted is pictured to the right.  A small number of these were used with coin receptacles for public telephones in supervised locations.  This one was recycled from a bell box.  The holes at the top for the bell mountings were filled with wooden plugs.  Note also that the grain on the door runs horizontally, the reverse of the British construction practice.

In later times of shortage similar phones were bought in from Stromberg Carlson (their Model 1157) and Kellogg.  The Stromberg Carlson sets were steel-cased, and had the transmitter and bells mounted inside the case.  They were usually imported in CB form and had an Australian dial added where needed.  They were ideal for hard-use locations such as Public Telephones.

They were a durable little phone and some were still being recovered in the 1970s.  In the United States Western Electric changed to pressed steel cases, but in Australia the APO kept the wooden models going until Bakelite models finally replaced them.  A British magneto model was also made by British Ericsson, but was not used in Australia.

Taken from Bob's Old Phones

237AW 237CBW

Issue 1, June 1942


Telephone 237AW and Telephone 237CBW are handset types converted from a wooden CB bell box.  The serial numbers are 1/22 and 1/21.

Drawing C.l5l4 shows the wiring of both the CB and Automatic telephone and a copy is fixed inside the instrument.  The CB instrument is not convertible to automatic and will be changed if the service is to become automatic.  Experience has shown that the instruments in `convertible' form is not always warranted and many are never converted. In the present case, the plain front is being retained.

This telephone has all the advantages in quality and volume of transmission and reception provided in the latest types of handset instruments.

When stocks are available these instruments will be issued for all wall type handsets in CB and automatic areas.  The use of table telephones mounted on brackets (162AT/CBT, 232AT/CBT and 332AT/CBT on brackets) will be discontinued as soon as possible.

Click here for this instruction in PDF format


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Last revised June 26, 2022