A few key dates in the history of UK Telecommunications

Coin Telephone No. 705

1959 – Pay-On-Answer Coinboxes

The first versions of the Pay-On-Answer Coinbox were introduced as a replacement for the old button A & B models. They were necessary following the introduction of STD in major towns, because the old coinboxes could not cope with automatically connected trunk calls.

1966 – All Figure Numbering

All Figure Numbering (AFN) was introduced in 1966, starting in the Director Areas of London, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool and Manchester.

  • 01 London
  • 021 Birmingham
  • 031 Edinburgh
  • 041 Glasgow
  • 051 Liverpool
  • 061 Manchester
New Style Socket

19/11/1981 – New Style Sockets

New style telephone plugs and sockets were introduced, enabling convenient movement and replacement of telephones and customer equipment. Up until the 1980’s the vast majority of phones were hardwired, with the exception of a few phones that used jack plugs and sockets. All the wiring had to be carried out by the GPO.

BABT approved sticker
BABT prohibited sticker

01/01/1985 – BABT Approval

On 01 January 1985 the monopoly held by BT on the supply of the primary telephone instrument was relaxed by the UK Government. The British Approvals Board for Telecommunications (BABT) had to approve all subscribers apparatus, such as phones, answerphones, telex machines and similar equipment in order to display an approved sticker with a green circle. If this approval was not met, or the equipment was not tested, then it had a prohibited sticker with a red triangle.

London Code Change

06/05/1990 – New London Codes

Inner London codes were changed from 01 to 071 and outer London codes were changed from 01 to 081. This was the biggest change to the London telephone numbering scheme since All Figure Dialling was introduced back in 1966. This was the first of the changes to free up more telephone numbers to meet increased demand.

Phone Bill May 1993

09/03/1994 – Peak Rate Abolished

Peak rates were abolished for using the telephone during the morning. For the first time since 1970 callers were able to make calls between 9am to 1pm without having to pay a premium. Calls between 8am and 6pm were then charged at the standard rate, which was previously between 8am-9am and 1pm and 6pm. Calls at other times and at weekends were charged at the cheap rate.

Caller ID

22/11/1994 – Caller Display Introduced

The ability to see the telephone number of the person who is calling you. Either by a caller display unit or telephone, or by using the 1471 service. The service was originally set to be introduced on 5th November 1994 but was delayed until 22 November 1994 because of privacy concerns.

Phone Day

16/04/1995 – PhONEday – extra 1 added to codes

The second change of telephone codes saw the introduction of an extra 1 after the initial zero in all UK area codes, e.g. Birmingham changed from 021 to 0121, Lichfield changed from 0543 to 01543. In addition five other areas had their codes completely changed; the international access code also changed.

  • Leeds changed from 0532 xxxxxx to 0113 2xx xxxx
  • Sheffield changed from 0742 xxxxxx to 0114 2xx xxxx
  • Nottingham changed from 0602 xxxxxx to 0115 9xx xxxx
  • Leicester changed from 0533 xxxxxx to 0116 2xx xxxx
  • Bristol changed from 0272 xxxxxx to 0117 9xx xxxx
  • International changed from 010 to 00
The Big Number

22/04/2000 – The Big Number

The third main change of telephone codes by OFTEL saw the ordering of codes into specific categories by type, including the introduction of an extra 7 in mobile and pager numbers.  Local and National rate codes were all rationalised to begin with 08 and premium rate numbers were changed to begin with 09. Following on from this 03 non-geographic numbers were introduced in 2007.

In addition new codes were introduced for  Cardiff , Coventry, London, Portsmouth and Southampton. All Northern Ireland codes were changed to 028.

  • Cardiff changed from 01222 xxxxxx to 029 20xx xxxx
  • Coventry changed from 01203 xxxxxx to 024 76xx xxxx
  • London changed from 0171 xxx xxxx to 020 7xxx xxxx
  • London changed from 0181 xxx xxxx to 020 8xxx xxxx
  • Portsmouth changed from 01705 xxxxxx to 023 92xx xxxx
  • Southampton changed from 01703 xxxxxx to 023 80xx xxxx
  • Northern Ireland changed from 01xxx xxxxxx to 028 xxxx xxxx