Brighton had six Siemens No. 16 exchanges and these are reputed to have opened in 1926. Worthing and Eastbourne and most likely all the surrounding exchanges were still manual boards and thus accessed via Level 0 and the operator.
The Brighton dial first appeared as a Dial No 8 dial circa 1923/24. On the enamel number plate it is stamped "B" for Brighton. It is also listed in the vocabulary of engineering stores (rate book) and was also used on a Number 10 & 12 dials.
article from the Telegraphs and Telephone Journal
THE opening of an Automatic Exchange has ceased to be a novelty; requests for a few notes respecting the Brighton
Multi-Exchange area indicate, however, that such matters are still of interest. In response to those requests - if not too late - the following notes have been written.
The transfer to automatic was satisfactorily effected at midnight on Nov. 12 last. It is of interest to note that the actual "cut over" of some 7,350 lines occupied 7 minutes, which must be regarded as a very creditable performance.
A brief history of the development of telephones in the Brighton area may be of interest. The first exchange, which was situated in West Street, was opened in 1882 with ten subscribers. In 1891 this exchange was acquired by the late National Telephone Company, who, in 1896, transferred it to Ship Street in order to provide for development. A Magneto Multiple switchboard was installed. In 1903 the Brighton Corporation opened a competing exchange at Palace Place; its life as such was short and it was taken over by the Post Office in 1906.
By this time exchanges were also operating at Hove, Preston, Kemp Town, Portslade, Southwick and Rottingdean, the magneto system or variations of it providing the needs of the area. The year 1905 saw the conversion of the Ship Street equipment to Common Battery working, Hove Exchange being similarly converted shortly afterwards. At the time of the transfer to the State in 1912 there were 4,578 working lines in the area.
Prior to the transfer to automatic the Brighton area was served by eight exchanges, at the transfer two of these (Post Brighton and Kemp Town) were abolished, leaving six. There was a considerable amount of regrouping of subscribers' lines; much of this was rendered necessary owing to the fact that the old Corporation exchange served the whole of the Brighton, Hove, Kemp Town and Preston districts during the period of competition.
The automatic system installed at Brighton is Siemens 16, and with the exception of the dial there are no novel features. The following equipment has been installed:-
From the accompanying illustration (at the bottom of this page) the novelty of the dial will be observed. The first digit of the numbering scheme is occupied by the name of the exchange, e.g., 2 = BR, 3 = HV, &c. It will thus be seen that in the case of a Brighton number being required instead of dialling, say, " 21234 " the subscriber is taught to dial " BR 1234 " ; or in the case of a Hove number, instead of, say, " 31234," he dials " HV 1234."
One manual exchange, situated in Brighton, has been provided for the area, and the following positions have been equipped:
1 key ended order wire carrying lines from London Toll Exchange.
1 service Private Branch Exchange.
2 jack-ended " B " positions for " dialling-in " to exchanges.
18 " A " positions for subscribers and coin box " 0 " levels.
There are 27 exchanges which " dial-in " to Brighton.
The official opening ceremony took place on Nov. 23. A large and representative gathering of prominent townspeople were present, including the mayors of Brighton and Hove, also Lady Rawson, the wife of one of the M.P.'s for the Borough. Col. Kelly, Surveyor of the District, on behalf of the Postmaster-
General extended a welcome to the company to the new exchange, where they had had an opportunity of seeing the new hand-maiden which had been provided for the benefit of Brighton. Col. Kelly added that Brighton had now a very good telephone service, and one that would compare favourably with any in the world.
Mr. Tansley, Head-Postmaster, Brighton, added his welcome on behalf of the members of the staff, and expressed appreciation for the sympathetic co-operation of the public, which had helped greatly in effecting the satisfactory transfer.
The Mayor of Brighton expressed, on behalf of himself and the Council, their pride in the new system and congratulated the staffs on the triumph achieved.
Mr. Tandy, Superintending Engineer of the District, said those who had seen the delicate equipment at the exchange would realise that where the human element was displaced extraordinary complications were introduced. Mr. Tandy pointed out that the success of the new system would depend a great deal upon the user. Dr. Wright, Managing Director of Siemen Bros., acknowledged the splendid co-operation that had existed between the Post Office engineers and the contractors' engineers.
The Mayor of Hove referred to the grumbling which took place in the old days of the National Telephone Company, and which was continued when the system was taken over by the Post Office.
He did not suppose grumbling would stop, even now, for it was an Englishman's privilege to grumble, and he would claim that privilege in any circumstances. He congratulated the Post Office on the provision of the new system.
Mr. McCormack, Executive Engineer, Brighton (South) said that the Staff were intensely pleased with the wave of appreciation shown by the Public. He paid tribute to the devotion of all who had been engaged in carrying out the successful transfer, the chief reason for that success being the close co-operation between Messrs. Siemens Bros'. Staff, the District Manager and his staff, and the Post Office Engineering staff.
Lady Rawson paid a warm tribute to the work of the Supervising and Operating staff. Mr. Taylor, District Manager, pointed out that whereas under the manual system a subscriber was served by one operator, under the new system he had the choice of mechanical operators.
Mr. Taylor added that there had been comparatively few faults, and he looked forward to the new system providing full satisfaction.
Last revised: May 08, 2019