Back
Next

Telephones: early private telephones


Oxford’s first telephones were installed in 1877, and in September 1879 the Edison Telephone Company gave notice in Jackson’s Oxford Journal of its intention to open a telephone exchange in Oxford. It appears not to have had enough response to make the enterprise worthwhile, and in the event it was the South of England Telephone Company Ltd that opened Oxford’s first exchange at 54 Cornmarket Street in 1886. This was taken over by the National Telephone Company in 1890, and in 1895 this moved to an upstairs room over the ‘Domestic Bazaar’ at 5 and 6 Magdalen Street.

In 1895 a second Exchange, the Post Office Trunk exchange, opened in Oxford, and in 1912 this took over the National Telephone Company.

A new main Oxford telephone exchange opened in Pembroke Street in 1923; Cowley and Headington exchanges in 1928; and Summertown in 1929.

In 1959 new exchanges at Oxford and Headington were opened. STD (Standard Trunk Dialling) services started in Oxford in 1963.

In 1889 there were 55 subscribers; ten years later this had doubled to 111. In 1924 there were 1,090 subscribers, and in 1934 1,987. By 1977 the number had risen to 11,520.


The 1895 Oxford Telephone Directory, reproduced below, lists two call offices (where people who had no telephone of their own could make calls at double the cost of a private line) and 96 subscribers. The latter included twelve colleges, the University Museum, the University Press, and the Examination Schools, as well as the Oxford Times, the Fire Station and the Police Station (which shared a number) and the following medical establishments: the Radcliffe Infirmary, the Eye Hospital, the Infectious Diseases Hospital, the Warneford Asylum, Drs Bevers, Brooks, Rice, Stark, and Turrell. Julius Sankey, M.R.C.S. had the prestigious telephone number Oxford 1.

1895

List of subscribers to the Oxford Exchange

Call Offices
46
1, NORTH PARADE: City Drapery Stores
20
54, CORNMARKET STREET: National Telephone Co., Ltd
–A–
33
ALDEN, R.R., The Market
37
ALDEN, R.R., Eastwick Farm
43
ALLINGTON, Rev. E. H.
83
ALL SOULS’ COLLEGE (Porter’s Lodge)
83a
ALL SOULS’ COLLEGE (C. G. Robertson)
67
AXTELL, Thos., 9a St. Aldates
67a
AXTELL, Thos., Edith Road, Grandpont
–B–
30
BAKER, HILL & Co., 1, Broad Street
30a
BAKER, HILL & Co. (E. L. Birkbeck Hill), 59, St. Giles
30b
BAKER, HILL & Co., 9 & 10, George Street
70
BALLIOL COLLEGE (Porter’s Lodge)
44
BATES, J.
45
BEAUMONT, E., 10, 11, & 12, High Street
46
BEAUMONT, E. (Call Office), 1, North Parade
38
BEVERS, E. A., M.R.C.S., and L.S.A. Lond.
80
BODLEIAN LIBRARY
62
BROOKS, W. T., M.D.
2
BUTLER, A., The Market
2a
BUTLER, A., 153, Cowley Road
–C–
58
CAB STAND, St. Giles
76a
CANNAN, C.
24
CARFAX COAL EXCHANGE
47
CARTER, Messrs
45
CITY DRAPERY STORES, 10, 11 & 12, High Street
46
CITY DRAPERY STORES (Call Office), 1 North Parade
60
CLARENDON BUILDINGS
21
CLARENDON HOTEL
26
CLARENDON PRESS
26a
CLARENDON PRESS (Horace Hart)
28b
CLARENDON PRESS (P. Lyttelton Gell)
28c
CLARENDON PRESS DEPOSITORY
3
COMFORT, B.
16
CO-OPERATIVE STORES
54
COUSINS, Thomas & Co.
–D–
13a
DOWSON, H. M.
5
DREW, A. J., F.R.C.S
12
DRUCE, G. Claridge, M.A.
–E–
39
ELECTRIC LIGHT COMPANY
36
ELLISTON & CAVELL
77
EXAMINATION SCHOOLS
–F–
22
FIRE STATION
6
FRANKLIN, W., Holywell Street
19
FRANKLIN, W., Merton Street
–G–
26b
GELL, P. Lyttelton, Clarendon Press
40
GELL, P. Lyttelton, Langley Lodge, Headington Hill
79e
GEORGE, Rev. H. B.
25
GERRANS, H. T
29
GILLETT & Co.
24
GOOLD & SON
22a
GREEN, Captain, 25, Leckford Road
22b
GREEN, Captain, 5, High Street
4
GRIMBLY, HUGHES &Co.
8
G.W.R. GOODS STATION
7
G.W.R. TOWN OFFICE, High Street
–H–
27
HALL & Co.
26a
HART, Horace
66
HEARN, J. W.
71
HERTFORD COLLEGE (Porter’s Lodge)
71a
HERTFORD COLLEGE (C. N. Jackson)
71b
HERTFORD COLLEGE (The Bursary)
30a
HILL, E.L. Birkbeck
11
HITCHCOCK & Co.
49
HUGGINS, B. S. & Sons
–I–
64
INFECTIOUS DISEASES HOSPITAL
–J–
71a
JACKSON, C. N.
72
JESUS COLLEGE (Porter’s Lodge)*
–K–
73
KEBLE COLLEGE (Porter’s Lodge)
–L–
48
LAMB & FLAG CAB OFFICE
13
LION BREWERY
17
L. & N.W. RAILWAY, Goods Station
18
L. & N.W. RAILWAY, Town Office, Cornmarket Street
–M–
42
MACLARAN, Mrs
78
MANSFIELD COLLEGE
79d
MATHESON, P. E.
35
MITRE HOTEL
13
MORRELL’S TRUSTEES
34
MULLINS, E. B.
–N–
76b
NAGEL, D. H.
9
NATIONAL TELEPHONE Co. Ltd., 54, Cornmarket Street
20
NATIONAL TELEPHONE Co. Ltd. (Call Office), 54, Cornmarket Street
77
NEW EXAMINATION SCHOOLS
79
NEW COLLEGE (Porter’s Lodge)
79a
NEW COLLEGE (Senior Common Room)
79b
NEW COLLEGE (Junior Common Room)
79d
NEW COLLEGE (P. E. Matheson)
79e
NEW COLLEGE HOUSE (Rev. H. B. George)
–O–
74
ORIEL COLLEGE (Porter’s Lodge)
14
OXFORD DAIRY Co.
39
OXFORD ELECTRIC Co.
23
OXFORD EYE HOSPITAL
26
OXFORD MAGAZINE OFFICE, Clarendon Press
56
”OXFORD TIMES” PUBLISHING OFFICE, New Road
56a
”OXFORD TIMES” PRINTING OFFICE, George Street
–P–
81B
PELHAM, H. F.
22c
POLICE STATION
100
POST OFFICE
31
PRESTON, A.
–R–
80a
RADCLIFFE CAMERA
15
RADCLIFFE INFIRMARY
32
RANDOLPH HOTEL
48
RHODES, J.
51
RICE, E., M.D.
58
RIPPON, G.
83a
ROBERTSON, C. G.
–S–
52
SANFORD-BURTON, H., F.L.S., &c.
1
SANKEY, Julius O., M.R.C.S., &c.
8
SAUNDERS & Co., G.W.R. Goods Station
7
SAUNDERS & Co., G.W.R. Town Office, High Street
81a
SIDGWICK, A.
81
SOMERVILLE HALL
57
STARK, J. M., M.D.
41
ST EDWARD’S SCHOOL
75
ST JOHN’S COLLEGE (Porter’s Lodge
27
SWAN BREWERY
10
SYMONDS, Horatio P.
–T–
76
TRINITY COLLEGE (Porter’s Lodge)
76a
TRINITY COLLEGE (C. Cannan)
76b
TRINITY COLLEGE (D. H. Nagel)
65
TURNER Bros.
55
TURRELL, W. J., M.D.
82a
TYLOR, Dr E. B.
–U–
53
UNION SOCIETY
26
UNIVERSITY GAZETTE OFFICE (Clarendon Press)
82
UNIVERSITY MUSEUM
82a
UNIVERSITY MUSEUM (The Keeper’s House)
77
UNIVERSITY SCHOOLS
26
UNIVERSITY PRESS
–W–
50
WALFORD & SPOKES
63
WARNEFORD ASYLUM
61
WINKFIELD, A.
28
WORCESTER COLLEGE
In case of FIRE, call for FIRE BRIGADE. No number required

 

* The Telephone Company had installed this telephone in Jesus College in 1894. Permission was given “on the understanding that the Company acquire no rights and the College incur no liability thereby”.


For further information, see R. A. J. Earl, The Development of the Telephone in Oxford, 1877–1977 (The Post Office, 1978)

Stephanie Jenkins, 2013