Engaged? It’s that bird again!

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IT was 1909 when Charles Wood started what we would call today a wagonette service.

The service ran from Rastrick to Brighouse, similar to a bus service. This was in the absence of a tramcar, a service which would not run on this patch until the Huddersfield to Brighouse route opened in 1923. It was a service which proved to be very popular.

The following year he started a taxicab service and customers were able to contact the office by a new-fangled gadget to most Brighouse residents called a telephone. His fledgling company had the distinction of being issued with the telephone number Brighouse 1.

Can you remember the first telephone you had in your house ? – perhaps like me and many other people it was on a party line. If it was then no doubt you can remember that familiar phrase from those days ‘sorry it’s a crossed line’. In the 1950s only one in ten households in the UK had a telephone.

Who could have imagined how the world of telecommunications would change – and so quickly.

I recently asked the members of a reminiscence group I run how many telephones they had in their house. The answer for a group where the average is above 65 rather surprised me. Some members, counting their mobile phone, had three with one or two having as many as five.

This week’s featured photograph from June 1982, was taken inside the British Telecom Kabmobile, a travelling exhibition vehicle which was used to advertise and display the latest range in telephones.

Explaining the latest telephones available to three visitors to the travelling exhibition (pictured right) are, from the left, Lesley Barrett (a British Telecom electrical officer); Pearl Naylor and her two daughters Michelle and Joanne and Anita Baxter (who is also a British Telecom electrical officer).

It was in the 1970s and into the early 1980s that Buzby, that yellow bird, was introduced by British Telecom to encourage people to use the telephone. It became so popular, particularly with children, that it was not uncommon for some children to ring the operator and ask to speak to him. Who provided the voice over for that loveable, or perhaps to some, irritating bird – Bernard Cribbins.

Who could have imagined that from the 1980s push button Trim phone we have now something called Skype, a service which allows you talk through a computer to almost anyone anywhere on the planet for free or practically little cost . . .