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British Industrial History

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Automatic Telephone Manufacturing Co

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of Edge Lane, Liverpool

1911 November: Formation of the Automatic Telephone Manufacturing Company by British Insulated Cables[1]. Established in Liverpool to make the Strowger telephone exchange system under licence from the Automatic Electric Company of Chicago to serve the Post Office. This company was the first maker of automatic exchanges in the UK.

1912 The first experimental public automatic telephone exchange in the UK was installed at Epsom using the Strowger two-wire system with capacity of 500 lines. Another exchange was opened at the General Post Office, London, for trial as a private branch exchange [2].

1916 Produced the Mk II Tuner crystal set which was used by the Royal Flying Corps.

1918 Produced the Aircraft Receiver Mk III, a 3-valve model using 'R' valves and fitted as standard equipment in Bristish aircraft at the end of WWI

1918 Made and installed an automatic telephone exchange at Leeds using the Strowger system. It was the largest of its kind in Europe, with capacity of being extended to serve 100,000 subscribers [3].

1920 The International Automatic Telephone Co was formed in conjunction with Associated Telegraph and Telephone Co of USA for purposes of overseas representation and for securing patent rights in other countries where Automatic Telephone Manufacturing Co did not have rights. This brought to an end the independence of Automatic Telephone Manufacturing Co [4].

1922 Tenth meeting of the company told that factory at Liverpool has capacity to make large quantities of exchanges. Associated company International Automatic Telephone Co had raised extra capital for the business [5].

1923 The Post Office introduced the first 'Bulk Supply Agreements' with manufacturers - this concerned the supply of automatic exchange equipment. It was signed between the Post Office and 4 manufacturers - Automatic Telephone Manufacturing Co, General Electric Co Ltd, Siemens Brothers Ltd and Western-Electric Co.

1924 Strowger exchange system, as manufactured by the company, was adopted by the General Post Office for use in London and large contract placed with the company[6].

1932 Name changed to Automatic Electric Co to reflect the wide range of electrical products that the company manufactured, including Xcel heating appliances, and traffic signals[7].

Xcel appliance made under the ATM trademark

1932 Annual meeting of International Automatic Telephone Co reflected the fact that Automatic Electric Co Ltd was a subsidiary[8] of which all shares had now been acquired by International Automatic Telephone Co. Another associated company was Telephone and General Trust which arranged credit facilities for export orders in conjunction with Associated Telegraph and Telephone Co (ATT) of USA. In consideration of providing considerable overseas business ATT had been granted shares in the company. This had been of considerable value, not least in terms of research and development and access to patents. Telephone and General Trust was formed in 1926 to provide finance for these businesses - ATT provided finance for the entire Ordinary share capital and some of the Preference shares, whilst International Automatic Telephone Co and British Insulated Cables provided the the remainder.

1935 Subsidiary company Elexcel Ltd formed to manufacture and sell Xcel domestic appliances[9].

1936 International Automatic Telephone Co took over the business, assets and liabilities of its wholly owned subsidiary Automatic Electric Co Ltd[10]. Name changed to Automatic Telephone and Electric Co Ltd[11]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times, 5 April 1932
  2. BT Archives [1]
  3. BT Archives [2]
  4. The Times, 5 April 1932
  5. The Times, 10 July 1922
  6. The Times, 25 March 1924
  7. The Times, 15 January 1932
  8. The Times, 5 April 1932
  9. The Times, 27 Mar 1936
  10. The Times, 27 March 1937
  11. The Times, 6 April 1937