"This site will sink or swim"
John Stonehouse, UK Minister of Posts & Telecommunications 1969 - 1970

"I feel the need...the need for the Switchboard Cafe"
Maverick – Top Gun

"I don't care what the Switchboard Café people think about me. Never did, never will. Life is too short to be worrying about that ****"
Amy Winehouse

"There was no need to be scared if you made a mistake"
SS Staff Sergeant Rochus Misch, Hitler’s switchboard operator


early switchboardThe Switchboard Cafe contains the most comprehensive set of historic, global photographs of switchboards and operators in the world, plus some fun stuff.

See how times have changed over the centuries.

modern telephonist

When you check out the gallery you will see  we have included U.S. switchboards in the main area and not in the international section.  The U.K. and the U.S. are closely linked:  Alexander Graham Bell who invented the telephone came from the U.K., first settling in Canada where he invented the telephone, then moving to America where he founded the Bell Telephone company. And isn't it an odd coincidence  British Telecom has the same initials ? 

And get a load of the 1877 image of the very early board manned by young men who look as though they have come off the film set of Gangs of New York. They were apparently badly behaved, foul-mouthed and discourteous, which compelled the telephone company to replace them with women because of  their grace, composure and general polite demeanour.  The 'Hello Girls' were born !

A word from our Supervisor...

grumpy supervisor
"I will not stand sloppiness on this board. All operators must speak clearly and have good pronunciation. When you answer you must give our number articulately and repeat any number the caller may say to you.

Each figure must be said separately except in the case of hundreds, 100 to 900 and thousands, 1000 to 9000, ie seven hundred or seven thousand; but 1500 = one five – double oh.

Identical figures combined between pauses but never across pauses. Pause in between figures, as follows:

double two
two – double three
three – double three
0334 oh three – three four
3344 double three double four
22551 two – two five – five one
44000 four – four oh – double oh
255211 two five – five two – double one

Do I make myself clear? Now, hands up who wants to go to the lavatory, by seniority of course".



Become a Post Office Telephone Operator

This is a very busy board and we are constantly recruiting new people and a job specification may be found here if you feel you have what it takes to be a telephonist . 

I understand some of you have already gone through our training school and if you have not received your confirmation letter you may download it here.