In 1878 The Telephone Company Ltd, was set up in London to exploit Alexander Graham's Bell patent - called at one time "a mechanical acoustic device". Few statistics exist on subscribers in the early years. Glasgow and Edinburgh opened small exchanges in 1879 and six years later Glasgow had 1300 subscribers and Edinburgh 400.
In rural areas at least until the 1920's subscribers were connected by manual exchanges by a telephone operator.
How did Earlston take to this new technology?
Trade directories and advertisements which quoted a telephone number give us an indication on who was at the forefront of introducing telephones into their business.
The 1903 Directory had no Earlston businesses listed with a telephone number but Miss Isabella Aitchison was noted as being in charge at the Telephone Call Office.
In 1915 and 1921 trade directories only Simpson & Fairbairn was listed with the No. 4
Rhymer's Mill - early 1900s
By 1928 more businesses had taken up the communication tool as listed in advertisement in a 1920's Earlston Guide book and listings in trade directories:
Tel. No. 4 - Simpson and Fairbairn, Rhymers Mill
Tel. No. 5 - A. & R. Brownlie, Timber Merchants
Tel. No. 7 - T. Weatherly. Stationers and Post Office
Tel. No. 9 - Donaldson. Butchers
Tel. No. 11 - Rutherford, Grocer
Tel. No. 12 - Rutherford & Sons, Agricultural Engineers
Tel. No. 13 - Readman, Motor Engineer
Tel. No. 14 - David Wallace, Tailor and Clothier
Tel. No. 15 - Dr. Young, Medical Officer
Dr. Young who served Earlston as a doctor from 1893-1934.
Tel. No. 18 - Rodger, Builders
Tel No. 19 - Red Lion Hotel
Tel. No. 20 - Willie Park, Grocer
Tel. No. 27 - Mrs Alan, Georgefield.
Tel. No. 28 - Black Bull Inn
How times have changed, to when we cannot imagine our lives today
without a telephone, whether for business or personal use!