|The Rushden Echo and Argus, 6th July, 1951, transcribed by Gill Hollis
New ‘Phone System by Autumn
Rushden Staff move to Bedford G.P.O.
A pre-war telephone scheme for the Rushden area a switch-over to the dialling system is soon to be completed. After eleven idle years the building erected for an automatic exchange is being equipped and should come into operation by early October.
In course of erection when war broke out in 1939, the building in East Grove was completed but could not be equipped and put into service. Apparatus already on order was held back, and for some years the building was used only as a store-place.
Twelve months ago the G.P.O. decided that the scheme could go forward. Further equipment was made, and staff began working both underground and overhead, with the result that at the present time every subscriber’s line is connected both to the old and new exchanges.
Apparatus now being assembled at the new centre will take 1,140 lines, and the full capacity of the building is for 2,400 lines. There are 800 subscribers at present. All required new dialling phones, and most of these are now installed.
The old manual exchange over the Midland Bank in High Street has nine switchboards, taking nine operators at a time, with a supervisor and other staff. The new exchange will not need an operator. An engineer will be in attendance only during the daytime.
Move to Bedford
Most of the present Rushden staff will take up G.P.O. appointments at Bedford.
When the switch-over is made, Rushden area subscribers will be able to dial local numbers and numbers at Wellingborough, Kettering and Bedford without contacting an operator. They will get an operator direct when ‘phoning Northampton, Irthlingborough or Raunds. Other calls will be made by dialling “0” and these will be handles by operators at Kettering, who will also deal with trunks.
All Rushden area subscribers will have four-figure numbers beginning with 2 or 3, but coin boxes will have six-figure numbers. Many new numbers have been given out during the last two years, but about 600 number changes will have to be made at the time of transfer.
The new numbers have gone into the recently-issued directory and subscribers have been issued and special lists which they can consult in order to trace the numbers now in use. The actual date of transfer, when numbers given in the directory will become valid, will be announced in due course.