- Bradwell Mill
- Local History
The Museum is fortunate to have an excellent collection of telephone equipment.
Many of the telephones on display are in working order and we encourage visitors to try them out.
The collection includes a number of historic and interesting telephones which are also known as "subscriber instruments". These date from 1900 to the present day.
Many of the telephones are connected through the various switchboards and exchanges that also form part of the display. Visitors can make calls to each other using these telephones.
The display also includes "candlestick" telephones such as Type Number 2 with a daffodil mouthpiece, so-called because of its shape.
And unusual items such as the special telephone designed to be resistant to fire and explosions.
The display includes a working example of an A/B coin collection box with period notice frames that was originally from a phone box. It works using pre-Decimal coins but don't worry, the Museum has a supply of these so that visitors can try the phone out.
Other telephones on display include:
- limited edition "Jubilee" telephone.
- mechanical key sender unit.
- army field telephones, some with Morse tappers.
- engineers' test telephones.
- working house exchange systems used in small offices and large houses.
The Museum boasts a wide range of switchboards including:
table and floor mounted wooden switchboards used places like small businesses, factories and hotels. Most of these are connected to a range of contemporary telephones on display.
two operator switchboards of the early Central Battery Signalling (CBS type 2) type from the Scottish west coast town of Malliag. This had lines to Fort William, Oban and some of the remote offshore islands.
a Private Manual Branch Exchange (PMBX4), one of the last of its type.
an 80 position switchboard from Shoreditch, London. This is a sleeve control board and is used to show an operator call and an emergency 999 call which visitors can connect to a make believe fire station red telephone.
The display includes a number of rural automatic exchanges, known as Unit Automatic Exchanges (UAX ). These were used in small towns and villages from 1929 onwards. Examples include:
- mobile UAX Type 12 from BT which saw service in the East Yorkshire area. This includes a petrol engine for charging the batteries and is fully self contained.
- UAX Type 13 from Steeple Claydon, Buckinghamshire (1953-1989). This exchange operates many of the telephones in the display.
- Strowger demonstration unit, where visitors can see and hear a call being made through an electro-mechanical exchange.
- selection of Strowger Selectors used in pre-electronic exchanges.
These include units dating from the early 20th century as well as one taken from the last Strowger exchange taken out of service in the UK in1995.
A small number of telephone kiosks or boxes can be found around the Museum site.
The Museum has a selection of telephone vehicles. These include examples in original Post Office Telephones and the later British Telecommunications liveries. Vehicles include:
- 1950s Morris LCS 25cwt lorry with trailer.
Roadphone, the world's largest working telephone, created as a promotional item in the 1970s.
- 1970s telegraph pole vehicle.
All telephone systems need more than just telephones, switchboards and exchanges. The display includes a number of items tha
t were essential to the operation of the telephone network. These include:
- lead and plastic underground cables dating back to the days of the telegraph in the late 1800s.
- optical fibre cables and samples.
- cast iron warning notices for telephone poles.
- exchange master clock with a working slave clock.
- coin collecting boxes used in kiosks, hotels, hospitals etc.
- period photographs of Edwardian and later switchboards with operators.
- diagrams of exchange equipment
- porcelain insulators, fuses and Leclanche cells.
Milton Keynes Museum is part of the Connected Earth Partnership. With the support of BT and the other Connected Earth partners, the Museum is able to expand its telephone displays and make much more of the collection available to a global audience. Visit the Connected Earth website.The telephone displays at Milton Keynes Museum have been assembled by the The Telecommunications Trust with the support of the Telecommunications Heritage Group.