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Information sheets and timelines

We've created a series of downloadable PDF historical information sheets and timelines for you to learn more about some of the familiar - and not so familiar - aspects of BT’s amazing history.

PDF graphic British phone books

Our phone books collection is possibly the most comprehensive in the world. But how were they made and how did telephone expansion affect their development since the first one was produced in 1880?


PDF graphic BT Tower

This iconic feature of the London skyline has been open since 1965. It's history is fascinating as is its importance to the telecommunications network.


PDF graphic Directory enquiries

Britain’s Directory Enquiry service began as an informal service in the 1880s to assist a few hundred telephone subscribers. Discover how the service grew and how computerisation played its part.


PDF graphic Post Office Telecommunications in the First World War

By November 1918, Great Britain had the world's most advanced air defence scheme. Relying heavily on the communications network this was just one of many important Post Office contributions.


PDF graphic Private telegraph companies

As the telegraph service grew so did the number of national and international companies. However, nationalisation changed all that.


PDF graphic Private and municipal telephone companies

The rapid development of the early telephone lead to fierce competition among the emerging and rival companies, and to strongly contested legal battles on both sides of the Atlantic.


PDF graphic Privatisation

Nationalisation of the telephone service brought it under the control of the Post Office in 1912. As a Government department at the time it's from here that BT’s road to privatisation began.


PDF graphic Telephone kiosks

Enterprising shopkeepers provided the first public call boxes to try and attract more customers. As a piece of street furniture they've become iconic and have come in varied designs and colours.


PDF graphic The development of the K8 kiosk

Giles Gilbert Scott’s K6 kiosk had been in service since 1936. The way the public used kiosks was changing and manufacturing techniques had advanced. A new kiosk was needed.


PDF graphic The greetings telegram

 A price increase for telegraph messages lead to people writing shorter, more direct messages. These became known as "telegrams” and came in many decorative designs.


Timelines

Here are some timelines covering other aspects of our long and rich history:

PDF graphic 999 emergency service


PDF graphic BT and predecessors


PDF graphic BT’s innovation


PDF graphic Central Telegraph Office and BT Centre


PDF graphic Digital exchanges