CLEVEDON PIER 150: Wooden box phone seventh artefact in archive exhibit

PUBLISHED: 13:00 03 May 2019

The old phone which makes up the archive exhibit. Picture: Clevedon Pier and Heritage Trust

The old phone which makes up the archive exhibit. Picture: Clevedon Pier and Heritage Trust

Clevedon Pier and Heritage Trust

A phone from the 1870s is the seventh addition to the Clevedon Pier archive exhibit.

With only weeks to go until the pier, in Beach Road, celebrates its 150th birthday, there are just three artefacts to explore.

MORE: Plaque commemorates new pier head.

This week it is the turn of a wall-mounted, wooden-cased telephone.

The Magneto mechanism and buzzer contained in a wooden box – eight inches wide by 12 inches high by 10 inches deep – has a Bakelite handset with remains of its cotton-bound cord.

MORE: Price boards showed the cost of going on the pier back in the day.

A two bell mechanism and hand crank were used to activate the bells, however a handle is now missing.

A sticker with the branding 'Western Electric' mounts the box and is thought to be from the 1870s. MORE: Ledger among Clevedon Pier's memories.

This type of phone system was used from the 1970s onwards for sites which were not on an exchange system.

Each personal telephone had its own battery and the crank handle on the side would work a magneto inside the box, which would ring a bell or activate a buzzer on the other phone.

MORE: Slot machine among archives.

This type of phone was used on the old railway systems where, for example, the stationmaster needed to contact the signalman regarding train services or changes in time.

MORE: 19th century bible found in wooden box.

A Clevedon Pier and Heritage Trust spokesman said: “One can imagine the last call for steamer passengers being notified by this phone.

“Nowadays the pier head and Toll House is connected by a 'bounced' WiFi link and, in addition, staff use mobile phones and WhatsApp to send and receive messages.”

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