In Market Lavington, we do still have some red telephone boxes, though these are used for other purposes now, such as a book swap library and plant displays. The big black public telephones inside them, operated by feeding in four old pennies, gave way to grey STD phones. Then, more and more households got their own home phones, with the four digit numbers of the Lavington telephone exchange. When local folk were moved to the Devizes exchange, their numbers were prefixed with 81.

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Now nearly everyone has either a home phone or a mobile phone or both and the public phone boxes are not needed.

A fairly recent donation to our museum collection was a Philips cell phone, dating from between 1998 and 2002.

It is still in its box, which also contains the instructions and a guarantee.

As this artefact was being accessioned, it occurred to us that this is the only phone in our museum and that it would be really good to rectify this. So, if any of our readers would like to donate an old black home phone with its plaited cable and a Lavington phone number or a more recent home phone with a Lavington or Devizes number, we would be really glad to hear from you.

2 Responses to “Telephones”

  1. James Perry Says:

    When we lived in Drove Lane or Cemetery Lane as it was then in the 1950s we had a party line phone. Two homes were connected to the same line but with different numbers. We rarely used the phone the most frequent use was to telephone in the grocery order to Mr, Little who would delivery it in due course.

    Telephones explains: Party lines are where two or more subscribers are connected to one telephone line pair. The most popular party line used was the two-party line, which as it name implies provides for two subscribers on the same pair of wires, one party was the A-line and the other was the B-line. Party lines do not provide secrecy from the other party, but they use earthed ringing circuits so that only the intended recipient’s telephone bell rang. When a subscriber wished to make a call they had to operate a push-to-make switch on their telephone to signal to the exchange that they wished to make a call, this ensured that the exchange metering billed the correct subscriber. A subscriber wishing to make a call had to wait for the other party to finish their call, if they were already on a call. If the call was an emergency they had to request the other party to conclude their call. Shared service was introduced on automatic exchanges in 1942 but ended in the early 1980’s as the new system X and system Y digital exchanges did not have the facility for party lines.

  2. marketlavingtonmuseum Says:

    Thank you, James. Some of us remember party lines too.

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