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.
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)