Unusual vehicles from post office and BT past on display at Milton Keynes Museum

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Unusual postal and telephone vehicles from the past 80 years will be on display at Milton Keynes Museum next month.

On Sunday, April 27, the museum will mark this year’s centenary of the first use of motorised transport in the Post Office, from which BT separated in 1981.

Staged in conjunction with The Post Office Vehicle Club, it’s the first telecommunications special event at Milton Keynes following the opening of a new telecommunications gallery, which has been funded by BT and largely built by museum volunteers, mostly BT pensioners.

Visitors can see a display of visiting postal and telephone vehicles from the past 80 years at the event, as well as the museum’s own vehicles, including a pole erection unit and the The Roadphone, the world’s largest self-propelled telephone modelled on the ‘Ambassador’ phone.

Built on to a Ford van chassis, it was also the largest working telephone in the world and featured at events where members of the public could use it to make novelty calls through its hydraulically lifted handset.

The museum’s new telecommunications gallery features working switchboards, including examples of magneto, CBS 2 and sleeve control boards; working Strowger and Crossbar exchanges; and working telegraph and telephone equipment.

Its two operational mobile telephone exchanges will be open to visitors, including the last remaining working mobile unit automatic exchange.

Telecoms-related films and videos will be shown and there will be various stalls, including displays of telephone tools and equipment.

The exhibition runs from 11am to 4pm and admission is £7.50 for adults, £6 concessions, £22 for a family. BT employees can get a 50 per cent discount on entry to the event by presenting their BT identity card.

The museum also houses a farmhouse, schoolroom, period shops, rural workshops, agricultural and transport exhibits and toys.