Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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United Telephone Co

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United Telephone Company, a pioneer in telephone services in UK.

James Brand was chairman throughout its life.

1878 The first telephone company was established in London: The Telephone Company (Bells Patents) Ltd[1].

1879 August: The Telephone Company opened Britain's first public telephone exchange at 36 Coleman Street, London. It served eight subscribers with a two-panel 'Williams' switchboard. By the end of the year a further two exchanges had been opened at 101 Leadenhall Street, EC2 and 3 Palace Chambers, Westminster, the number of subscribers totalling 200. Exchanges were also opened by the company later in the year in Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Bristol[2].

1879 The Edison Telephone Company of London Ltd, registered 2 August, opened in London 6 September 1879[3].

Mr Brand had been chairman of the Bell Telephone Co (presumably a short-hand for the above), he and a few friends having purchased the instruments from Professor Bell. Finding the instrument impracticable, they joined with Edison and others and bought up Blake's transmitter. Since then they had worked as the United Telephone Co[4].

1880 United Telephone Co formed from The Telephone Company (Bell's Patents) Ltd and The Edison Telephone Company of London. [5].

United Telephone Co were sole proprietors of the patents of Bell, Edison, Crossley, Gower and others[6].

1880 A court judgement, in favour of the Post Office, concluded that a telephone was a telegraph, and that a telephone conversation was a telegram, within the meaning of Section 4 of the Telegraph Act, 1869[7]. This meant that telephone companies had to obtain a licence from the Postmaster-General, the Post Office would take some of their income and had the option to purchase them after a certain period.

1881 United Telephone Co and the Gower Bell Telephone Company formed a new company to manufacture their telephones and equipment, the Consolidated Telephone Construction and Maintenance Co Ltd[8].

1881 Granted a licence to use its rights to the National Telephone Co, in order to develop telephone services in the provinces[9].

1884 Absorbed the London and Globe Telephone Co. [10].

1884 The restriction on exchanges to five miles was relaxed, enabling telephone companies to instal trunk wires, and thus create the basis for a national network. [11].

1885 Considerable order for equipment placed with Consolidated Telephone Construction and Maintenance Co on behalf of the Postmaster General[12].

1889 Amalgamation with the National Telephone Co and the Lancashire and Cheshire Telephonic Exchange Co effective 4 July[13] despite protests from the Postmaster General about the proposed amalgamation.

1889 The United Telephone Co was then liquidated.


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