Stanstead Abbots Telephone Exchange.

John Weeks

With my parents I moved to Great Amwell in 1954.  At that time Stanstead Abbotts telephone exchange was in Roydon Road.  It was one of the few manual exchanges in the country so in order to make a call you had to wait for the operator to respond and then ask to be put through to the number you wanted.  I recall that at that time our telephone number was 258 whilst my girlfriend's (later my wife's) number was 248 and a friend's house was 259.  (I think the similarity in numbers was just by chance).

  I can recall there was a telephone kiosk in the High Street not far from Burton's with another on Roydon Road, although I stand to be corrected about the latter.

  In July 1966 my wife and I moved to the police house in Cappell Lane where the telephone number was 43.  The manual exchange was very handy as, in the days before the police had personal radios, I could pick up a phone anywhere in the area and ask to be put through to Ware 3910 (the police station) with the call being booked to 43.  Frequently this resulted with the operator saying, "What are you doing there?"  There were advantages with a manual exchange as most of the operators would not put calls through in the late evening and would tell the caller they would have to be connected to Ware or, after midnight, to Hertford.  However, there was one occasion when this worked against us.  My wife and I had gone out somewhere for the evening and her parents were babysitting. Her grandmother had died that day and her uncle tried to telephone her father but received no reply so guessed they might be at our house.  He didn't know the number and the operator refused to put him through to the police house as it was late in the evening!

  With the arrival of STD (Subscriber Trunk Dialling) the Stanstead Abbott exchange ceased to be exist and all numbers on that exchange had, I think, 691 added before them as Ware numbers, but this was some time in the 1970’s by which time we had moved to Somerset.

The telephone exchange was in the Roydon Road adjacent to the Five Horse Shoes pub.