endgirl (endgirl) wrote in little_details,

Using a candlestick telephone in 1910-14

I'm trying to figure out how a caller would use a candlestick telephone in the UK (specifically London) around 1910-1914. Not the etiquette of the call once it's connected, but how that connection was actually made.

I gather that the caller would pick up the phone's earpiece, which would flip a switch to connect the call to an operator, and then the caller would give an exchange name and number and the operator would connect them to the person they're trying to reach (ie "Kensington 2817"). Candlestick phones don't have built-in dials yet, so there would be no way to connect to someone directly. The are the details I don't know:

-is "exchange name and number" and "operator" the correct terminology? would someone simply say "telephone number" at this time?
-was there a dial tone? a clicking noise? any other sounds the phone made?
-what would the operator say? was there a specific script of exact words to use?
-is there anything other than the number that the caller would need to tell the operator? would they chat?
-once the call was connected, what would the recipient say to answer the phone?

I've read a few different Edwardian history books (including The Edwardians and Social History of Edwardian Britain) and searched on the history site Edwardian Promenade, but none of the sections on phones or technology went into much detail, or mentioned operators. I also tried googling how to make a phone call in 1900s london, edwardian telephone calls, uk telephone operator script, and many other variations. I've mostly just found broad timelines on the history of telephones, or else etiquette rules for after a call is connected -- but nothing about how to make the actual call. The only specific info I can find about making calls is in this Wikipedia entry, but the only thing it mentions about candlestick phones is that picking up the earpiece would flip the switch to connect the phone (to the operator?).

Thanks in advance for any insights! :)
Tags: 1910-1919, uk: history: world war i, ~technology: phones

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic
    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.