Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thames (NZ) 'The First time' : Telephone Exchange

When did Thames get the telephone?
In the Thames Star 6/3/1891, it was stressed that Thames needed a Telephone Exchange, that it would be a great asset to the Town. In order to get one, they needed to get 25 subscribers and put forward a petition. The following week, the District Hospital and Charitable Aids Board decided to put their name forward as a subscriber.

By the middle of April 1891, 27 subscribers had come forward for the Telephone Exchange in Thames! The requisition for the exchange was thereby forwarded to the Commissioner for Telegraphs.The following month the reply was received, with a few conditions for the subscribers. The contract term to be three years, not just one and allowed in bigger centres. (see below)
Thames 9/5/1891
In the Thames Star 31/8/1891, the difficulties over the subscriber term were resolved, and the exchange was proceeding. Alterations were to begin on the Post and Telegraph Offices, Government buildings. The bonus being, that the buildings were in a poor state, so it was welcomed that some upgrade would be happening.

In May 1892, discussion was underway in the papers about the hours the exchange would keep. It was felt 9am to 5pm would be pointless. By October 1892, the exchange was up and running, now residents at Tararu, wanted also to have this great new service!

Early phone numbers were:
Francis BATTSON (Plumber) No 3, A COURT (Draper) No 4, Wm MEEHAN (Cab Proprietor) No 6, M BROWNE & Co No 7, R BATEMAN (Butcher) No 8, W BONGARD (Chemist) No 14, Royal Hotel No 17, Isaac BROWN (Cycle shop) No 60, FOY Photographers No 66, M WHTEHEAD & Son (Boots) No 68.

Later in 1913, the next big excitement came with the Party Line System. Thames-ites once again eagerly joining the queue to try out this system at the Telephone Exchange.
Thames Star 14/8/1913

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