Here is the list of who had and who had not.
The Middleton system was in its infancy in 1911. You could not dial your own calls. It was in the 1930s before you could dial your own calls from the Middleton exchange. The telephone exchange was on Oldham Road at this time.
How to Make a Call
To make a call, you lifted the receiver of your telephone. If it had a handle generator, you would wind the handle a couple of times to attract the operator’s attention. If not, you just waited.
The Operator Was In Charge
The telephone operator would have her attention brought to your number on the exchange apparatus. It looked like a very high upright piano, Down one side were little discs about the size of tiddley-winks. When you picked up your receiver, the disc would fall into the hole against your number. The operator would answer you and write down the time. The talk was formulaic and never changed. Something like:
“Hello Caller; which number do you require?”
You would then say the number you required. Even if the operator recognised your voice, she was not allowed to chat to you. Rules were strict. Chatting could keep other people waiting too!
About Those Connections
The operator would take the wire connected to your number and then plug it into the plug for the number you required. This would cause their telephone to ring. If they picked up the phone, their disc fell into the little hole and the exchange. The then meant you were connected. The charge started there and then. It cost quite a lot to telephone. About 2d for a minute or so.
The operator was not allowed to listen but might interrupt and remind you of the cost. If people did not pay the bill, they could not be connected.
Book in Advance!
There might also be a few lines to Manchester and some to Oldham and Rochdale. These would have to be booked in advance. When the call was placed by the operator, you would be informed and then the charge would start.
In a Queue!
Not only would the Middleton operator deal with calls in Middleton. The Middleton operator would deal with calls from Manchester to Rochdale or Manchester to Oldham and so on.
Sharing the Costs…
Some of the numbers have an ‘x’ or a ‘y’ after them. These were two people sharing the same line for a reduced cost. These “party lines” still existed in Middleton until the late 1970s.
System Lasted for Nearly Sixty Years
Some of the exchanges around Middleton were still connected via an operator into the late 1960s. These included Saddleworth, Tottington, Shaw, Todmorden, Marple and Glossop. For these, you dialled a special local code and waited. The operator would answer “Number please” and then you would say the number you wanted. Then you waited for the clicks and then you would be connected. The operator would say “putting you through now” when you go through. If there was a delay, the operator would say “still trying to connect you”.
How Many or How Few?
On old photographs of Middleton, you can see how many telephones there were by looking at the telegraph poles. Two wires equal one telephone!
Just Put It in Writing!
Even though there were lots of phones by the 1930s, most people still communicated by writing notes and letters. Sometimes they sent postcards. Mostly, delivery was next day but you could also get same day delivery – and you did not have to pay extra for it.
The 1911 Telephone Directory:
Here is the list of Middleton’s first telephones from 1911. The list is exactly as it was in the directory. Some of the abbreviations are odd-looking now. I wonder if they are all decipherable?
Middleton 1 Public Call Office Oldham Road
Middleton 2 Schwabe, Salis & Co Rhodes wks nr Mid
Middleton 3 Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Middleton
Middleton 4 Fire Station Middleton
Middleton 5 Cromer Mill Ltd., Cotton Spinners Oldham rd
Middleton 6 Dickins & Co., Yarn Polishers, Mers Spring vale
Middleton 7 Thompson Chas. H Boiler Maker Middleton junc
Middleton 9 Travis and Lees, Firwood Mills, Middleton Junction
Middleton 10 Grimshaw Lane Spinning Co Ltd Middleton Junc
Middleton 11 Junction Spinning Co Ltd. Middleton Junc
Middleton 12 Green Lane Spinning Works
Middleton 13 Central Social Club Old hall st
Middleton 15 Soudan Mill Co. Ld. Cotton Spinners Soudan mill
Middleton 16 Lees J. W. & Co Greengate Brewery, Middleton Junc
Middleton 17 Irk Mill Co. Ltd. Oldham rd
Middleton 18 Townley Mill Co. Ltd., Cttn Spinners Townley mill
Middleton 19 Irkdale Bleachworks Co Ltd Middleton
Middleton 20 Partington Jonathan, Contractor Middleton Junc
Middleton 22 Malta Mill Co Middleton Junc
Middleton 23 Town Hall Middleton
Middleton 24 Wood T.H. & Son Lts., Cttn Spnnrs Park mills Mid
Middleton 25 Swan Cotton Spinning Co. Ltd. Middleton Junc
Middleton 26 Hulbert John Coal Iron Merchant Oldham rd
Middleton 27 Albany Spinning Co Ltd. Cotton Spinners Middleton
Middleton 28 Jones F R Westdene
Middleton 29 & Tonge Cotton Mill Co. Dane Mills
Middleton 30 Electricity Works Middleton
Middleton 32 Lawton S & Sons, Finishers and Embossers, Cross st
Middleton 33 Kempsey Ernest & Co Lodge mills
Middleton 34 Argenta Meat Co. Ltd Long st
Middleton 35 Don Mill Co Ltd Don Mill Oldham rd Tonge
Middleton 36 Hilton & Son, Plumbers Decoratrs Manchester old rd
Middleton 37 Electric Traction Co Car depot
Middleton 38 Rex Mill Ltd., Cotton Spinners Rex mill
Middleton 40 Booth & Co., Dyers & Polishers Irk vale dye wks
Middleton 41 Catterall Rev R., Rector of Midd Middleton rectory
Middleton 44 Gas Offices Middleton
Middleton 46 Girvan W.G., Veterinary Surgeon Manchester Old rd
Middleton 49 Kay and Son, Carriers 15 oldham rd
Middleton 51 Hunt and Moscrop, Engrs, Millwigts Central ironworks
Middleton 53 Cocker H & Co Finishers and Stnters Brittania mills
Middleton 54 Heywood and Middleton Water Board Oldham rd
Middleton 56 Wall Paper Manufacturing Co Fielding Mills
Middleton 59 Hollingworth J.A. Pine Ho, Middleton Junc
Middleton 60 Smith William V. “Sunnyside” Kenyon Ln
Middleton 61 Chadwick and Smith Ltd., Bleaching Dyeing Printing Boarshaw wks
Middleton 64 Rothwell J C Dental surgeon 101 Long st
Middleton 65 Heywood J H & Sons, Joinrs & Buildrs Manchester old rd
Middleton 66 Ward WIlliam A., Wholesale Butcher, Wood st west
Middleton 67 Wilton Manufacturing Co Townley st
Middleton 68 Taylor R Builder & Contractor 105 Manchester old rd
Middleton 69 Police Station Middleton
Middleton 70 Farnworth & Duckworth, Carriers (Motor Waggon) Jubilee rd
Middleton 71 & Tonge Industrial Society Ltd Long st
Middleton 72 Taylor Joseph, Hay Corn Mercahnt 51 Mnchstr New rd
Middleton 73 Evans, Travis Stock, Share Broker Lever Mount
Middleton 74 Frost J,. Rayner “Boothroyden ho” Boothroydn Rhodes
Middleton 76 Johnstone George, Surgeon Beech ho Middleton
Middleton 77 Findlay and Leigh, Physicians and Surgeons Manchester Old rd
Middleton 78 Ollerenshaw George, Motor Carrier 44 Townley St Midd
Middleton 79 Crapper B “Mills Hill House” Middleton Junc
Middleton 81 Milne J., Surgeon 68 Manchester Old Road
Middleton 82 Warwick Mill Co. Ltd., Cotton Spnrs Oldham rd
Middleton 83 Times Mill Co. Ltd Middleton
Middleton 85 Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, Middleton junc
Middleton 86 Ashton Noah, Fish, Poulterer, 22 Long st
Middleton 88 Rhodes Mfg. Co. Indian Shirting Mfrs Rhodes
Middleton 89 Don Laundry (A.E.Jackson) Soudan st
Middleton 90 Eclipse Engraving Co Ltd Hall st
Middleton 91 Partington R & Son, Bldrs & Contractr Lodge st
Middleton 92 Ashworth R & Sons., Cotton Manufcturers Tonge mill
Middleton 94 Guardians of the Poor (Oldham Union) (Relief Office) 1 Suffield st
Middleton 95 Butterworth John., Dr., Dental Surgeon Long st
Middleton 96 Walton F. J., Surgeon 54 Spring vale
Middleton 97 Middleton Conservative Club Long Street Middleton
Middleton 98 Manchester and County Bank Middleton
Middleton 99 White Hart Hotel (Geo, Sudall) 86 Rochdale rd
Middleton 100 Old Cock Inn
Middleton 102 Hulbert Edmund Machinry Mcht, West Lea Middleton
Middleton 104 Standard Joinery Works Cheetham st Mdltn
Middleton 105 Skellern Thomas, Plmbr Hse Dcrtr 11 Corporation st
Middleton 106 Mason Arms Hotel (John T Birchwood)
Middleton 107 Kay Jas., Enginr, Machine broker Middleton junction
Middleton 108 Labour Exchange, The Lodge, Lodge Street
Middleton 110 Whitefield Velvet & Cord Dyeing Co. Ltd. Parkfield wks
Middleton 111 Wiggins W. M. Fencegate Middleton
Middleton 112 Neild John, Cotton Agent Birkdale Middleton
Middleton 114 Victoria Hotel Middleton junc
Middleton 115 Ormesher William Lyndhurst
Middleton 125 Wood J Cotton Spinners Boundary mill Middleton junc
Middleton 129 Taylor Albert “Green La Cottage” Middleton junc
Middleton 130 Jopson Ashworth & Edmunds Ltd Kid Clough dye wks
Middleton 133 Crookell W & Co. Electrical Engrs Water st
Middleton 135 Hare and Hounds (Geo E.Heathcote) Oldham rd
Middleton 136 Hilton & Derbyshire Ld., Ch Proprs Mill st
Middleton 137 Assheton Arms Hotel (L.W. Krause) Middleton
Middleton 139 Chapman Thos & Co Coal Mrchts 137 Oldham rd
Middleton 2x Campbell Duncan Ironfounder Preston st
Middleton 2y Howell Mary, Coal Merchant 141 Oldham road
Middleton 3x Entwistle F & Son Solicitors Long st
Middelton 3y Wheeldon F., Surgeon 76 Long st
Middleton 5x Education Dept Long st
Middleton 5y County Court – Post Office Chas
Middleton 6x Wilcockson A.E. Plmbr & Painter 327 Grimshaw la
Middleton 6y Wilcockson Bros., Carriers by Motor Andrew st
Middleton 8x Dempsey J T Joiner Bldrs Mcht Suffield st
Middleton 8y Bamforth J & Sons, Engs’ Mllwts 35 Old hall st
Middleton 10x Verity Printer & Bookbinder Wood st
Middleton 10y Mellalieu W E Plumber and Painter Wood st
Middleton 18x Gorton & Halliday, Plshd Yarn Mfrs Lark hill wks
Middleton 18y Pedley F & Sons. Tinplate workers 174 Oldham rd