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Dial tone - or not?

(17 Posts)
FarNorth Thu 19-Sep-19 08:59:53

Just wondering - what happened on UK phones, in days of old, when the caller hung up. Did the callee immediately hear the dial tone (as often heard in films) or not?
I can't remember.

See this 3 min video :

FarNorth Thu 19-Sep-19 09:00:42

grannylyn65 Thu 19-Sep-19 09:02:01


BradfordLass72 Thu 19-Sep-19 09:10:23

In some places, no.

I remember very well ringing s person who had caused me and my family a lot of trouble.

I said nothing at all because I knew when they hung up, if I did not, they could neither accept nor make phone calls.

Of course it may be different now.

FarNorth Thu 19-Sep-19 09:29:42

As the person making the call, BradfordLass72, you would hear nothing when they hung up because the call stayed connected, as you describe.

What I wondered is whether they, as the person receiving the call, would hear the dial tone if you hung up first.

EllanVannin Thu 19-Sep-19 11:06:54

If someone had hung up on you there wouldn't be a dialling tone, it would just be a long drawn-out tone until the operator disconnected it.

EllanVannin Thu 19-Sep-19 11:08:07

Once a receiver is on its cradle the call is cut.

LondonGranny Thu 19-Sep-19 11:17:51

My family suffered harrassment from an ex-colleague of mine who had been sacked after being charged with a serious sexual offence and I refused to sign a petition for his reinstatement (he was found guilty). Not surprisingly he only harrassed female ex-colleagues.
Amongst other things, he'd ring our landline and then not hang up. On one occasion our phone line was blocked for two days.
This was when the police did very little about this sort of thing and told us to go to BT (who were no help either) or pay for an injunction (which was hundreds of pound I didn't have).

LondonGranny Thu 19-Sep-19 11:19:48

This was in 1990, btw.

FarNorth Thu 19-Sep-19 12:19:59

That's terrible, LondonGranny.

BradfordLass72 Fri 20-Sep-19 10:50:24

On a lighter note, when I was an office junior, it was my duty to work the PABX when the telephonist was at lunch.

In those days you could tap on the cradle and get a phone call free (including in public phone boxes)

I used to pretend, in a strong Pakistani accent, that I was trying to get through to Karachi Station to find out the times of trains.
I had hours of fun foxing stuffy solicitors and snotty shop assistants who used to abuse me in strong racist terms.


Tedber Fri 20-Sep-19 16:34:56

Lol BradfordLass. PABX? Taken me back. PABX x 5 or however many lines you were dealing with?

Can remember tapping out numbers too (instead of dialing). Omg. Feeling so old bhaha

kircubbin2000 Fri 20-Sep-19 17:24:21

I used to get a crossed line. It meant I couldn't make my call but I could hear them chat. Never anything I interesting.

Wheniwasyourage Fri 20-Sep-19 18:52:32

When DH was a GP and doing night duty the practice phone was switched through to the house. Occasionally someone would call and forget to hang up (understandably, I suppose if they were in a panic) but then nobody else could get through. It got worse when mobile phones became more common, as someone who had the practice number on their phone might dial it by accident in their pocket.

I had to sit by the phone trying to attract their attention by shouting or blowing a whistle, and sometimes it took ages to get them to hear. At least if it was a house call and not a mobile phone mistake, DH could get them to hang up their phone when he got to the house. My palms still go damp as I think about it over 20 years later!

Magpie1959 Fri 20-Sep-19 19:15:06

Does anybody remember 'party lines'? They were a bit cheaper than a 'private line' I think.

We were on a shared line with our next door neighbours - a rather snooty elderly couple who had delusions of grandeur (as in the marvellous Hyacinth (Bouquet) Bucket !!

My elderly Auntie who lived with us loathed them with a passion and always used to sit listening into their calls when we were out.
We would come home to the neighbour complaining furiously that our Aunt had been eavesdropping on her very important personal business calls all day- which she strenuously denied, calling her a lying old bat to her face!
Later in the evening she would forget and tell us all about what that old 'b***ch next door' was up to.
Hilarious when I think about it now. My poor Auntie had dementia so it probably seemed perfectly reasonable to her.

annodomini Fri 20-Sep-19 19:33:04

I'd forgotten that party-lines existed. We shared one with someone round the corner whom I don't think we ever met and I don't think I ever heard them when I wanted to use the phone - perhaps they never used theirs!

LondonGranny Fri 20-Sep-19 20:43:53

I'd forgotten about party lines. My schoolfriend's parents had one. They were cheaper but also some exchanges that were overloaded imposed them on people which I think was the case with their phone.
That was back in the day when the exchanges had a three letter prefix eg PER for Perivale which was ours although we didn't live in Perivale or even that close, it was just the nearest telephone exchange.