ETL and GEC Telephone 1000

At the outset it’s important to state that the Telephone 1000 was the number assigned to this design by GEC and ETL (Ericsson Telephones Ltd), not by the BPO.  In fact the BPO had almost nothing to do with the design, except that it's own Telephone No. 702 had a case shaped like the Telephone 1000.

In many ways this telephone stands as the missing link between the 300 type and the 700 type, just as the 400 type was the interim design in Australia.  The Telephone 1000 represents are rare example of co-operation between two competing manufacturers and probably represents a concerted effort to persuade the BPO to accept a new design of telephone (Siemens Centenary Neophone followed a couple of years later).

To understand the significance of the 1000-type, we should spend a minute to look at what was going on outside Britain.  While many countries continued to make telephones similar to those made before the war, the Americans came up with something startlingly new in 1949.  This they called the 500 set, which looked genuinely modern and unlike anything which had gone before.  Among its innovations were a short handset and a separate letter and number ring which surrounded the dial, features adopted on the GPO 706 but only after another ten years.

Meantime our home manufacturers of telephones were experiencing a minor boom after the war, with Commonwealth countries eager to purchase new phones and other supplies.  The GPO 200 and 300 sets were already looking dated and the British Ericsson company set about redesigning the look of its range.  The result was something much closer to the original 1936 Swedish prototype of the 332, with soft curves replacing the latter's rather angular lines.  Sweden obviously had a hand in this, because very similar-looking telephones were made by L.M. Ericsson in Sweden and the Netherlands (though with different dials, handsets and insides).  The Swedish versions were called the BC560 and BC660 and were made by Telegrafverket (Swedish state telephone administration) and LM Ericsson from circa 1947.

The British Ericsson 1000-type phone appeared in 1953, and the design must have been licensed to GEC as well because just four years later the latter company brought out a telephone of the same shape (but with a different shaped handset and improved circuit).  Both firms called the design the type 1000 telephone.  Many thousands of these phones were sold abroad and at home, though not to the BPO.  No doubt the manufacturers tried to persuade the BPO to adopt this phone as a replacement for the ageing Telephone 332, but in this they were disappointed.  The shape was adopted, but only for the Telephone No. 702, a special instrument for explosive atmospheres.

The  Australian (APO) 400-type telephone (made in Britain by GEC and Ericsson) is superficially similar but its lines are straighter, more like the 332 and is half an inch taller than the 1000 model.  The case of the 400 does not have the 1000’s side vents (which function also as carrying grips).  The sides of the case of the Telephone 1000 are slightly curved from front to back and do not have the large step in the side that the 400 telephone has.  Unlike the APO 400, all the components are mounted on the base plate in the Telephone 1000.

GEC released this telephone in 1956, with a transmission circuit and handset identical to the APO 400 type (Handset No. 1 with 4T receiver).  Their product  was the first telephone to introduce  two-tone colour schemes in Britain and quoting from the GEC catalogue, "The number of spare parts required by administrations using more than one colour of telephone is greatly reduced, the colour of the telephone can readily be altered by changing the case."  See also the GEC Telephone TEL17T/ATS.

The dates of the GEC variants can possibly be identified by a stamp on the capacitors.  There is a set of four numbers after the normal text i.e. 1256 and it is assumed that the last 2 digits could be the year, the first two numbers probably the week number.  Another place to look is under the dial outer rim.

This telephone was also manufactured by ETL and known as their N1014 telephone.  Variations include the use of the transmission circuit from the BPO 332.  The handset used by ETL was different from GEC, being very similar to that used on the Dutch and Swedish versions of this telephone.  No two-tone colour schemes were offered by ETL; the handset, cords, case and terminal block all matched.

GEC 1000 article

GEC technical article on the 1000 type range of telephones

ETL - Black, ivory, Imperial Red, Colonial Blue, Topaz Yellow, Silver Sage, Forest Green, and in two-tone:- Aircraft Grey-Green/Forest Green, French Grey/Elephant Grey, Blush Ivory/Maroon.

GEC - In addition to the normal black instrument, a range of two-tone telephones were supplied in which the case was coloured ivory, red or green and all the other parts including the handset, cords and case vents were black.

The Telephone 1000 saw considerable use on private (PAX, not PABX) systems installed by  Reliance Telephone Company (a GEC subsidiary) and Telephone Rentals Ltd (who bought most of their equipment from ETL).  It was widely used by the Irish P&T; it was also the standard equipment on the ocean liner Canberra.  In London Foyle’s bookshop (in the Charing Cross Road) retained their TR Telephones 1000 until the 1980s.  British Railways adopted them with enthusiasm: in London the new offices at Great Northern House and the British Transport Commission Headquarters at Marylebone were completely equipped with GEC telephones 1000 for instance (but don't ask if they were PO-approved!).  The Ericsson version was used to re-equip Swindon exchange.

Ericssons produced a number of attractive special versions of this telephone (desk version) for prestige customers, with crests on the front of the case below the dial.  One example seen is a green telephone with the crest of the States of Guernsey whilst another, in an attractive translucent ice blue case, was made about 1955 for the Royal Palace of Baghdad in Iraq (examples exist at the Nottingham Industrial Museum and in a private collection).

Ericsson made a magneto version of this telephone, which has distinctive vertical ribs on the dial-less case (type N2125A table, N2206C wall).  The wall version of the Ericsson 1000-type was adopted by the British Post Office as its Telephone No. 333 but using the standard 164 handset rather than the original Ericsson design.

Ivory Swedish Ericsson telephone, the inspiration for the Tele. 1000 Black British Ericsson Tele. 1000
Australian 400-type telephone Black British Ericsson 1000-type wall telephone, with Ericsson handset, similar to BPO Tele. 333


Ivory GEC Telephone 1000
All the GEC range came with a black handset, irrespective of the case colour
This picture looks like a pre-production phone or probably just a marketing picture, as the dial centre plate has no retaining ring showing

GEC 1000 Type Range
1000 Type
Muraphone K

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Last revised: November 28, 2021