Wednesday 22 April

The Wasp …


We revisited the Avoncroft Museum today and this time we had our own telephone engineer with us.

Mick enjoyed reliving his past experiences with the former British Telecom employee volunteers who manned the telephone exchange in the National Telephone Kiosk collection and who, together, helped explain to us how the various selectors, relays and systems worked.   For the first time I was able to operate a peg and cord switchboard, taking a call from Pip, who asked to be put through to Mr Fairchild (alias Storm).


One complicated piece of kit in the telephone exchange


The light on the roof lit up when I called the police!


Most of the telephone boxes were locked today, although the police phone box was open for a photo opportunity and there was a George VI phone box with A & B buttons that was in working order and allowed Pip to ring the phone box next door and complain to the telephone engineer who answered that there was a dreadful crackle on the line which was traced to a loose connection in the cable.

Today we also learnt;

  • That the Mission Church on site was built from a flat pack kit and it was possible to order a church of any size depending on the size of the expected congregation and additional rooms could be added afterwards if necessary. The building was capable of being put together in a day and these kits proved so popular they were shipped all over the world.

    Mission Church with organ extension

    Mission Church with organ extension

  • The origin of the word ‘CURFEW’.   In Medieval times, when the church bell tolled at dusk, residents had to return home to extinguish their fire that they used to heat their homes and prepare their food, which left the residents without any heat source in houses without glass in the windows and only doors and shutters protecting them from the elements. If anyone was found to have a fire alight in their homes they would be fined.
  • The initial grinding of grain produces wholemeal flour (available to the masses for baking) and only when it was sieved further was it separated into white flour (at one time only afforded by the wealthy), semolina and the bran remaining would be fed to the animals.   How things change!

In the chain shed where there were about six fireplaces either side of the shed where self-employed men would work in sweaty conditions making chains of different dimensions, for which they were paid peicework rates per hundredweight


Admiring the range of bellows in the chain shop

Admiring the range of large bellows that would be used to keep the fires hot in the chain shop

On our walk back from the museum we spotted this tin man relaxing in the sunshine.



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