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Telephone used by George Gilmour, pioneer of the telephone service in the Isle of Man

Date made: late 19th century

Description: Telephone used by George Gilmour, pioneer of the telephone service in the Isle of Man.

An account in the 'Manx Sun' 12 November 1892 tells us that George Gilmour was born on the Isle of Man but moved away for work. Having been ordered back to the island to rest during an illness, he stayed and started work on a telephone system. Starting his own business in Athol Street as an electrical engineer, he began by setting up private telephone lines linking premises owned by local businesses, but was found to be in breach of patent laws and forced to stop his work and disconnect the lines, losing money in the process. However, he persevered and was successful in opening his telephone exchange in 1891 as more subscribers came forward and by 1892 there were more than 85 users of the system with more waiting to be connected. The new (in the 19th century) prison and many of the hotels and businesses were customers of the service which covered a large area of Douglas.

The National Telephone Company took over the business, with Mr Gilmour as exchange manager and the service was soon to be extended to other areas of the island. The 'Manx Sun' reported that a cable linking the island to the Cumberland coast and on to Manchester and Liverpool would surely be the next step, putting the Isle of Man on a par with other coastal resorts where ‘a business man is within speaking distance of his office, even when on holiday.’ The cable was completed on 6 June 1929 and the first call between the Isle of Man and the outside world was made on 28 June 1929 by Lieutenant Governor Sir Claude Hill in Douglas to the Postmaster General in Liverpool.

Materials: brass, wood

Object name: telephone

Collection: Social History Collection

ID Number: 1956-0152

Subject tags : #MM100COLLECTIONS


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