Watford became the fifth town in the country to receive the benefits of the new subscriber trunk dialling system on Friday.

At 12.20pm, Miss Mervyn Pike, Assistant Postmaster General and MP for Melton, picked up a bright red telephone receiver in the Watford Exchange.

Then she dialled 0 LE3 20424 and within a matter of seconds she was talking to her friend, Mrs D Russell, The Lord Mayor of Leicester, in her parlour in Leicester Town Hall.

As Miss Pike put it, the call was “untouched by hand”. By courtesy of the subscriber trunk dialling system, she got straight through without the help of an operator.

Their conversation lasted for over three minutes and would have cost 2s 10d. Under the old system the cost would have been 4s 8d.

The difference was accounted for by the fact that with the old system, subscribers were charged to the nearest minute. With STD they pay for the time they spend “on the line”.

Miss Pike told a gathering of GPO officials, prominent Watford citizens and pressmen that she was “thrilled and pleased” the system had come to Watford. There was no better place to start the development of STD in the London area, she added.

Watford’s MP, Mr F W Farey-Jones, offered a big “thank you” on behalf of the town. “This is a happy day for Watford,” he said, “far happier than we realise at the moment.”

He added that the GPO could not have chosen a better place to inaugurate the system than Watford. “What Watford is saying today, London will be saying in two years’ time,” he commented.

[From the Watford Observer of July 8, 1960]

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