Odds and quads

This poster from 1935 (left), designed by graphic artist MacDonald Gill, was used to promote the commercial telephone service between London and New York introduced by the Post Office in 1927.

August 1, 2013

The photographs show the first GPO mobile telegraph office at the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race in 1872; postmaster general Sir Kingsley Wood at the Young People’s Own Telephone Exhibition in London (1932); and a special 1939 respirator fitted with an earpiece, intended to allow telephone operators to continue to provide essential services in the event of a gas attack.

Meanwhile, wartime instructions (right) tell Post Office staff to “avoid careless talk” and stop information “passing into enemy hands”.

These items all feature in BT’s extensive collection of photos and documents, dating back to 1846, which highlights Britain’s pioneering role in the development of telecommunications.

Almost half a million photographs in the BTcollection have been digitised by Coventry University, with funding from Jisc, and have now been made freely available under a Creative Commons licence.

Coventry also joined forces with BT to create the explanatory website.

Send suggestions for this series on the treasures, oddities and curiosities owned by universities across the world to matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com

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