Who knows about old phone-boxes?

Could you call the USA from a UK phone-box in the late 60's.
Any idea of the call charges?
Could you 'reverse-the charges', or 'call collect' on international calls??
All help gratefully received etc etc

Quote: Lazzard @ 13th September 2021, 2:24 PM

Could you call the USA from a UK phone-box in the late 60's.
Any idea of the call charges?
Could you 'reverse-the charges', or 'call collect' on international calls??
All help gratefully received etc etc

Yes you could.

But it was on a party line of telephone boxes.

So one minute you would be having a clear conversation with Hank in Milwaukee about Crosby, Stills and Nash and the next you would be hearing someone in a Cleethorpes telephone box saying "Hold on mate, I'm busting for a piss".

Trying to work out whether you smuggled a 'Truth' in there, in the manner of the popular Radio 4 Panel Game.

:):):):):)

Quote: Lazzard @ 13th September 2021, 2:24 PM

Could you call the USA from a UK phone-box in the late 60's.
Any idea of the call charges?
Could you 'reverse-the charges', or 'call collect' on international calls??
All help gratefully received etc etc

I can only tell you of the time my mother and her sisters made a call to the States around 1955 I think it was. They all crammed into the red box opposite my grandmother's house, booked the call and then had to wait for the operator to ring them when she had the connection to my aunt in Mississippi. How long the wait was I can't remember.

Call charges I can't help you with either as I was a young sprog standing outside the box as I watched in amusement, as four sisters and a mother with fistful's of small change, jostled for the opportunity to speak to my aunt.

Not much help maybe, but at least you know it was possible.

Very handy. I think at sometime in the mid-sixties you stopped needing an operator for home phones - just wondering if it was the same for phoneboxes.

Quote: Lazzard @ 13th September 2021, 2:24 PM

Could you call the USA from a UK phone-box in the late 60's.
Any idea of the call charges?
Could you 'reverse-the charges', or 'call collect' on international calls??
All help gratefully received etc etc

I have a very strong inkling that you could, but can't give you solid evidence because I'm not sure how you'd get it other than asking a telephone historian. Reversing the charges was common back then if you didn't have enough change for the coinbox. I can see no logic to why it wouldn't have been allowed, as overseas calls were expensive and all they'd be doing is turning down money if they didn't.

Just how they got the payment from the receiver with a telephone account in another country I'm not sure, but I do know the GPO and USA had a good working partnership because of the high volume of calls between the two. So I'd be very gobsmacked indeed if you couldn't. Is this research for a screenplay btw, how exciting. :)

Not to answer your questions but maybe of interest.

Many red boxes (maybe particularly in the sticks) still had Press Button A/B in 1969.

The first edition of Richard Neville's Play Power in 1971 (it was deleted in subsequent editions) described ''how to ring anywhere in the world for free'. It involved 'tapping the cradle'.

Quote: Alfred J Kipper @ 13th September 2021, 5:55 PM

Is this research for a screenplay btw, how exciting. :)

Thanks for the info - and yes it is (well, a TV series to be accurate)
I was re-writing a scene where someone phones the US from a phone box- then thought, "is this even possible?"
The piece is trying to be as historically accurate as possible -but a year or two out I can live with.

Quote: JohnnyD @ 13th September 2021, 6:04 PM

Many red boxes (maybe particularly in the sticks) still had Press Button A/B in 1969.

Good to know.
Here's hoping I get to the stage in the process where that piece of information comes in handy!

I can't use public phones. Mum says they're unhygienic. You can catch things. You can get mastiffs in your ear.

Well, I'm afraid that rules you out for the part.
That and the fact that you're not a 19 year-old American girl.

International direct dialing came in, in 1963 But direct dialing to the USA wasn't until 1970 an then only from London to new York.

Telephone sex was the worst of it. I'd get through easily to Tammy in Punxsutawney. Then as soon as I put another penny in, we'd hear a couple actually doing it in a kiosk west of Cleckheaton.

Me and my mates got free calls in phone boxes for years

You would just ring the operator and say 'my 10p has got stuck in the slot and I can't make my call' - and they would just connect you to whatever number you gave them

I think that BT paid them such shit wages they basically didn't give a f**k

Quote: Stephen Goodlad @ 13th September 2021, 8:35 PM

International direct dialing came in, in 1963 But direct dialing to the USA wasn't until 1970 an then only from London to new York.

I might just about get away with it then.

Share this page