Ericsson AC400

Ericsson AC400 (click to enlarge)

An unusual item came to us, via the website Contact Form, from Peter Betts.

Peter told us: “I have a collection of telephones and at the end of last year acquired an Ericsson AC400. This was given to the seller’s father (along with one other similar model) in the mid-1980s when the ‘Police Box’ outside Dock Gate 4 was either refurbished or demolished – (I suspect the latter given the demolition of the former Ocean Terminal building). It was used as toy and then left in a garage for the last 30 plus years. I have it on display (unrestored) at home alongside pictures and photos from Southampton Docks. I wondered if a photo of it might be of interest for your site and whether David Caplehorn who provided a photo of the Police Office at Dock Gate 8 might also be interested?

These were used in the Edwardian era and were also sold for municipal or corporation use in the 1930s. I cannot determine from the model number which era this one falls into. The lead for the handset was clearly replaced in later years and with a colour which suggests it would have been authentic to its provenance as a police phone in use at the docks. Aside from that and the sellers information I have no other means of verifying other than if your colleagues might know or if there are images that I have yet to source”.

Ericsson AC400 (2)

David Caplehorn, former Southampton BTP based officer and BTPHG researcher, replied:

“It is a very interesting item of Police communication system of years gone by. I am sorry to say that I do not remember seeing this telephone in Southampton Docks and have been trying to think where it might have been found near 4 gate. Two places I have in mind, maybe it was the original telephone in the Central Road Police Station opposite 4 gate and was found when the building was demolished. The other location is the Town Quay Police Office, just along from 4 gate, which was not demolished but completely refurbished when the Town Quay was developed into restaurants and shops. I think there was a telephone operator in the room above the Police Office. 

Another interesting point relating to communication prior to Personal Radios, although not Police Boxes, there were Dial type telephones in boxes in numerous places located around the docks, where the beat Officer could contact the Control Room if required.”