Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: November 22, 2018
Webpage updated: November 22, 2018




The Western Counties and South Wales Telephone Company Limited was formed on December 17th 1884 with capital of 400,000.  Its head office was at 16 High Street, Bristol.  It took over the United Telephone Company's system in the area for which it was licensed and this is probably the exchange which was re-opened in February 1885. 

However, the Western Morning News of May 2nd 1885 revealed that before the subscribers to the Post Office telephone exchange would transfer to the new Company they had 'expressed a desire that all the priveleges granted by the Post-office and some additional ones should be offered them by the limited company...'.

This the directors had agreed and the subscribers were now to pay just 12 per annum for a 24-hour service, with free access to all call offices in the Three Towns and free connections with the Post Office, thereby enabling them to send and receive telegrams at any time of day or night.

In addition to that service the Company also offered a "domestic" rate of 10 per annum for a service between 9am and 7pm every day except Sundays along with free access to the call rooms.  The Company was not operating at that time but was looking to sign up a minimum of 100 subscribers and was offering discount rates: 12 for one year, 11 per annum for four years and 10 per year for seven years.  The newspaper commented: 'The telephone is destined to become in England as it is now in America - an absolute necessity for business and domestic comfort'.  To which it added: 'But we move very slowly in this country, especially in the western districts'.

The use of the call-rooms had been restricted to subscribers residing within the Three Towns but in January 1891 the rules were changed to allow any Western Counties' subscriber from any of the 55 towns they served to be able to use them.

On January 1st 1892 the National Telephone Company bought the 4,027 subscriber lines of the Western Counties and South Wales Telephone Company for 277,607 13s 8d.  However, the telephone directory dated May 1892 was still in the old Company's name.