Telephone communication

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On this day in 1896 a telephone line enabling communication between Portsmouth and London was opened for public use for the first time. The charge was 9d (4p) for three minutes.

Two days earlier an Ericson Table Instrument had been installed in the mayor’s banqueting room in the town hall and the town’s top businessmen and civic dignitaries gathered for the ceremonial opening of the line, before it went public.

After preliminary speeches, during which the commercial applications for the new device were stressed, the mayor solemnly took one of the receivers and ‘exchanged compliments and congratulations’ with the lord mayor of London.

Satisfied that the thing worked, the group retired to the mayor’s parlour to toast its success – from John Sadden’s The Portsmouth Book of Days.