Memories of 
Geoff Mawdsley

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- I have written a note about the Forum cinema, as I was reminded of it by the piece by Colin Hunt in the history archive section. Would you like to publish it on the webpage? ______________________________________________________________________________- I was interested in the note about the cinema projectionists. My mum worked at the Forum cinema about 1954, by coincidence, with John Bull's mum Nell. I was 7 years old, and really wanted to see inside the projection box.¬  Well, my mum was always asking the projectionist, who came in just before the start of childrens' films on Saturday morning, when I was there, but he always said "one day", or "next week". I realise that even though there weren't Health and Safety about then, he was aware that children should not be exposed to the dangers of inflammable nitrate film. I only found this out later of course. When I was 15, I got talking to a market seller of electrical goods at Petersfield Market, and this chap had his own projecting box at his home in Froxfield. He had built an extension to his garage, and installed two "Kalee" film projectors in the new room. There were two authentic little windows that looked into the garage where the films were projected on the far wall. So I got to see one after all! Another coincidence was, my mum re-married in 1955 and my stepfather had worked for Portsmouth Town Cinemas as a trainee projectionist before the war, and was always talking about Mr Horne of Gosport, who was, I believe the manager of the Olympia. I remember him running a grocery shop at the junction of Leesland Road and Norman Road. My friend, Paul Taylor (who I am still tring to trace!) lived in Norman Road, lived with his gran who shopped at Mr Horne's son's shop which was at the other end of Norman Road.

Geoff Mawdsley (2009)

I wanted to share some other memories, and perhaps get in touch and hear some memories of other people who either worked for the GPO telephones, Dockyard telephones, or Radio relay in Gosport in the¬  early sixties!  As far as I know, you haven't had any yet on telecommunications!¬  I  wonder if you would like to consider this piece below for your "Gosport  Info", you can of course, edit and correct as you think fit. Please  allow my e-mail to be at the end, because I would very much like to  contact people who worked on the systems I have talked about!¬ ¬  Thanks  for all the great work you do!¬  Kind regards Geoff Mawdsley (If you get  any older people contact you who haven't got e-mail, in that case you  can give them my number if you like.¬ ¬ It is 023 9259 5554)
Memories of telephones and Radio Relay in Gosport.
In 1963, I became a GPO telephones apprentice and was based at the  Telephone Exchange building in Bury Road. I was interested in old  telephones, exchanges and communication in general, so it was a great  job, and although I am not working full-time now, I still have old cord  switchboards and dial telephones in my house!  During the training I was put with different people, and I was lucky  to spend some time with an engineer called George Masters. He had been  in the Army Signals Corps, so knew the staff that looked after  telephones in the Dockyard establishments and St Georges Barracks. I was fascinated by the Dockyard phone system. It was just like a GPO system, but completely separate and had quite a few automatic exchanges  interlinked. The Gosport ones were at Clarence Yard and "The Hornet" naval base. I am very interested in contacting former Dockyard  electricians who worked on the phones, (they had the title of  "electricians" although they were engineers), for an article I want to  write for the Telephone Heritage Group, of which I am a member.

The Clarence Yard exchange was a wonderful old system installed in 1937 by Siemens of Woolwich, and I used to plug into a frame in the exchange and listen to the old   "brrr-brrr"......"brrr-brrr".................................."brrr-brrr"......"brrr-brrr" of the ringing tone!  If anyone has one of the bakelite telephones used on the old Dockyard system, would they kindly give me permission to  photograph it? My details are at the end of the article.

Another interesting telephone exchange was the manual switchboard at  Stubbington.  It was fascinating to watch the Operators at this old  fashioned "village exchange" that you see in old black and white films  set in the thirties, and the supervisor was a very efficient lady named  Hilda Swash. Her husband, Reg, was a GPO lineman, so it did have a  "villagey" feel. The best thing was the fantastic service that the  subscribers received from the Operators. One day I heard a lady call  up for a certain tradesman , and the Operator knew that he was on  holiday, so advised the subscriber of this, and also suggested an  alternative tradesman who she could recommend in his place. She was  promptly put through, and I seem to remember that local calls were still free up to a certain can't get anywhere near a service  like that today, even Directory Enquiries is located in a far-away city  somewhere, with the operators having no local knowledge.

Finally, the other thing I liked was the old fashioned "Radio Relay"  service that Gosport had then, an off-shoot of the Portsmouth system.

You can still see the wires at odd places on chimneys and odd poles -  they are a group of three pairs of wires that were fixed on insulators  unlike the normal GPO ones. They went from chimney to chimney mostly,  and had a thick polythene cable that linked down to the houses. The  cable was connected to a rotary switch fixed to the wndow frame, and a  flexible lead came out to a lovely, polished, wooden-cased speaker with a volume control. There were only three radio channels, Home Service,  Light Programme and the Third Programme. The Radio Relay amplifiers  were in a building in Jamaica Place at the back of Kennards Dairy shop. I would love to have a speaker and switch in my collection, and if anyone has one, can they please contact me? Hope you enjoyed these memories,  Geoff Mawdsley. I can be contacted by e-mail on: or  via Ian and Gosport Info.

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Hants  PO12 3NR

Tel: 023 9252 3358

Mobile: 078 1751 7995


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