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#140754 04/30/04 05:26 PM
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 45
sanUK Offline OP
Was adding an extra light in an old house the other day, and found loads of these wires neatly clipped all over the loft.

Sorry for the Quality but my camera isnt too fast in low light

[Linked Image from]

Not very clear but shown is 2 small pipes these go to every room 2 wires in each

[Linked Image from]

[Linked Image from]

[Linked Image from]

[Linked Image from]

I took one of these joints apart and the wires are soldered together. The wire is a double woven thread for insulation, and is a single tinned copper wire

[Linked Image from]

[Linked Image from]

This lot go down to the kitchen, so im guessing its an old bell call system, ive seen a few of these before but wired using twin cable like speaker wire going to solenoid boxes in kitchens with indicators saying "Bedroom 1",2,3 etc...

I took a few more pics but they are just blurrs (must get a better camera)

Anyone seen this before ? and what age roughly ?

#140755 04/30/04 09:22 PM
Joined: May 2002
Posts: 382
We had a set up like this in the old Yale Observatory’s astronomer’s house on the grounds of Wits University in Johannesburg, RSA. It was built in 1924 (we know the date as the obsevatory was opened by the then Prince of Wales, later Edward VIII) and in it’s last years hosted the Wits Postgraduate Club , hence my involvement. During refurbishment a colleague of mine discovered that these cables were still energized at 240V by severing them with side-cutters whilst trying to liberate the bell box. This had the waggley flags that read ‘Living Room, Dining Room, Bedroom’ etc.

Whole building has now gone unfortunately but the bell box still survives in it’s replacement – although now just an ornament.

[This message has been edited by Hutch (edited 04-30-2004).]

#140756 05/02/04 07:58 AM
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,520
I came across a similar bell-call system a couple of years ago in a big old Victorian house in Cromer (Norfolk). Some parts of the call wiring had been replaced with zip-type bell wire, but most was the original double-cotton covered wire run in small conduit.

The main panel was located in the kitchen, a glass-fronted wooden box about 16 x 10 inches, with a dozen or more of those "waggley flag" indicators (good description! [Linked Image]). Lifting the front panel allowed access to label the indictaors and revealed the old brass terminals. I'd estimate it was probably installed 1920s.

It was wired to a more modern (circa 1950s) bell transformer and bell, and a couple of the circuits were still working. The owner wanted it left in place, and with a little work we got all but one or two rooms wired to it and working again.

Whether the family that later moved appreciated the fact that the kids could then buzz the kitchen from their bedrooms, I don;t know. [Linked Image]

#140757 05/03/04 12:40 PM
Joined: Aug 2002
Posts: 1,081
Great pictures and a very interesting thread!

The "early call system" in my house was just put into use the other day. I said to my daughter, "Please tell Mommy to come downstairs."

She looked up and yelled, "MOMMY! COME DOWNSTAIRS!"


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