GEC Telephones on the
An article from GEC Current Comments - Volume 6 - Number 2 - 1936
Telephone Equipment of the S.S. Queen Mary
Of outstanding maritime events in recent years none has so captured the public imagination as the completion of the Atlantic liner Queen Mary. The interest displayed in this most recent addition to a long line of famous vessels owned by the Cunard and White Star Companies has continued undiminished since she first began to take shape on the stocks in the Clydeside yard of Messrs. John Brown and Company and, without doubt, finds one of its main focus points in the arrangements made on board to minister to the needs of passengers. The extent and varied nature of the equipment for this purpose is in accordance with the original intention of the Cunard-White Star Company that comfort and service should form the keynote of their policy. The service staff plays a vital part in such a policy and therefore the means provided for enabling passengers to establish contact with its members assume considerable importance. To form this link between passengers and service staff is the principal purpose of the telephone system, the design of which was decided upon after consideration of the facilities the telephone could offer and after co-operation between the Cunard-White Star Company, Messrs. John Brown and Company and The General Electric Company, to whom supply of the equipment was entrusted.
Manual operation was selected for the system, having in mind that passengers aboard ship, possibly not fully aware of all facilities available, and requiring articles or services of a score of different types, may get into immediate communication with one who, in the person of an operator, knows the appropriate member of the ship’s personnel with whom contact should be established. The operators become a readily accessible source of information of which passengers may stand in need and as such lend added value to the system.
On the various decks, a total of 430 cabins are equipped with the modern self-contained type of telephone formed of ivory-coloured mouldings (Fig. 1). To a silk-covered cord is attached a small plug which, by means of alternative sockets provided in the cabins, enables the position of the telephone to be varied to suit the passenger’s convenience, A plate, in a gold-plated frame, on the front of each instrument, carries the instruction which denotes the chief facility for which the system will be employed - ”Telephone your requirements for room service”.
In addition to those in cabins, telephones are provided for the use of passengers in such public places as Main Hall, Tourist Entrance, Squash Racket Court, etc. The service staff use telephones in corridors and pantries, whilst for inter-communication between other members of the ship’s personnel, a total of 135 telephones are installed in such locations as Wheel House, Chief Steward’s Office, Purser’s Office, Engineer’s Workshop, Infectious Hospital, etc., etc.
Cabin telephones are fitted with buzzers giving a subdued but effective calling signal, whilst in the case of corridor telephones, lamps replace an audible signal, these measures being adopted to avoid the possibility of disturbance to passengers in adjacent cabins.
An initial total of 585 lines is terminated on a three-position C.B. lamp-signalling switchboard which has provision for an ultimate total of 640 lines. The terminations of ten shore lines appear on the board, arrangements being made to enable an operator to call the shore exchange whether this be of the automatic, C.B. manual or magneto type. Apparatus associated with three order wires and three special lines to the radio room, with provision for double these numbers, completes the principal line equipment.
The positions are numbered 1, 2 and 3 from the left, and serve lines to cabins on “A" deck, Main deck, and B and Sun decks respectively. As the actual disposition of the board is such that the operators look “forward”, it was natural to designate the left-hand panel in each switchboard section “port” and that on the right “starboard”, wiring arrangements being made accordingly.
The panels on the first position show designations on the stile strips indicating the deck and side of ship served. Each cabin line is terminated on a jack, with which is associated a calling lamp. In the top row of jacks are three which terminate lines from the pantry serving A deck. A passenger requesting the operator for room service is connected to the pantry, where the requirements are noted. By means of a small auxiliary telephone system, described later, these requirements are communicated to a kitchen clerk. Simultaneously a messenger
boy is despatched with a copy of the order to the deck waiter allotted to the group of cabins from which the order emanated. On receipt of the order the waiter may complete his duties in hand, then proceeding to the kitchen where the items to be delivered are either ready or approaching completion. This practice has several marked advantages in that it is unnecessary for the waiter to visit a cabin more than once for a given order, thus saving time and increasing passengers’ privacy; that almost immediately after a passenger has voiced his
requirements the order is receiving attention in the kitchen, and that the distance to be covered by a waiter is a minimum.
On occasions when traffic through ,the switchboard is light, necessitating the services of only one operator, coupling keys on the middle position may be thrown to switch six cord circuits from each end position for use by an operator at the middle position.
Since space devoted to equipment on board ship is always at a premium, the switchboard is designed to accommodate relays, condensers, fuses, line terminals, etc. in order to avoid the necessity for a separate apparatus rack. The use throughout of relay B.P.O. type 600 assisted very considerably in the endeavour to economise in space. At the rear of each section a frame carries relays and condensers, whilst above the frame are mounted alarm-type fuses serving the various circuits. The apparatus ‘frames are hinged and can be swung forward to disclose the cords and to give access to relay wiring when further lines are added. In connexion with the cords is found one of the differences between standard practice and that followed when a switchboard is required for service’ afloat, in that freely-suspended pulley weights are replaced by spring-controlled pulleys with individual vertical guide wires.
To ensure that any possible voyage in the tropics will not result in adverse effect upon the telephone equipment, such materials and finishes have been chosen as experience shows will withstand wide extremes in temperature and climate.
Since, in night hours, for example, the number of calls may not necessitate continued attention to the cabinet, a switch is provided on the front panel, which, when thrown, prepares a circuit for the operation of a bell in the event of a call.
Last revised: June 19, 2020