Reply panel used with Intercom telephones.
Amongst the capital cities of the world London has, perhaps, the largest number of famous thoroughfares. Of these, Park Lane ranks high, in that it joins together two such routes as Piccadilly and Oxford Street, skirts on one side the city's largest park, and on the other side bounds the fashionable residential district known as Mayfair. With Piccadilly Circus - "the hub of the Universe" - within easy reach, the shopping centres of Oxford Street and Bond Street even closer, and yet a practically inviolate outlook over the green stretch of Hyde Park, Park Lane inevitably became one of the most desirable residential thoroughfares in London. A flat on Park Lane lent a cachet to the tenant, setting a seal on his social position, and for all the traffic that now roars, or purrs, according to its nature, between the Marble Arch and Hyde Park Corner, Park Lane retains its dignity and aloofness, and of all its buildings none contributes more to this by its style and purpose than Fountain House.
Fountain House stands on the island site bounded by Park Lane, Mount Street, Park Street and Aldford Street and takes its name from the fountain that stands in Hyde Park, some little distance in front of the building. It contains sixty-two spacious flats planned to suit the requirements of tenants of high social standing.
Each flat has its own entrance hall, on the wall of which is fixed a service telephone (see picture to the right). This is connected to a reply panel, which is installed in a cupboard behind the desk in the main hail (see picture above showing the cupboard door open). The doors to this cupboard match the natural-colour wood panels of the walls, and are normally closed, a call being signalled by means of a buzzer.
The purpose of the telephone system is the quick establishment of contact
between tenants and the day or night porter for requests to be made for any of
his usual duties on their behalf. It does not provide intercommunication between
tenants because such a facility would be an infringement of the Post Office
The reply panel, seen at close quarters in the picture below, consists of a metal cabinet, on the front of which are fitted standard jack mountings and lamp socket mountings. The lamps give clearly visible signals through their red translucent caps. The bottom panel carries a "ring" key and also the "home" jack for the porter's reply plug. Dummies plug the holes provided in the standard panel for lamps and jacks to service lines, such lines being unnecessary in Fountain House.
When a call is originated in a flat by the removal of the telephone handset,
the corresponding line lamp on the reply panel glows and the buzzer sounds. The
porter removes his handset from its honk, whereupon the buzzer ceases, and
inserts his reply plug in the jack beneath the glowing lamp. Conversation
follows, and at its end the plug is restored to the "home" jack and the two
handsets are replaced.
Reply Panel - K 8366
Current for the speech circuits is obtained from a mains unit, which supplies
also 50-cycle current at a suitable voltage for the operation of the buzzers.
It will be observed from the picture above that the reply cabinet is compact in construction and fits unobtrusively in the cupboard behind the reception desk. The telephone instruments combine in colour with the pastel shades of the walls on which they are fitted and in shape suit all the furnishing schemes. In short, the apparatus is as unobtrusive as the service it provides, which, although quickly becoming taken for granted by the tenants, is nevertheless a valuable contribution to the ease and convenience of life in the flats.
Text taken from GEC Current Comments 1938, No. 3, Volume 8
Last revised: September 02, 2019