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Within our collections showcase we feature some of the main digitised collections. At an individual record level these documents are available to view and download as a PDF.

Post Office engineering research reports and the reports of the research section of the National Telephone Company

The research section of the Post Office was initially part of the Engineering Department. After the inland telegraph network was acquired by the Post Office in 1870, engineers became involved in technical experiments. However, it wasn’t until 1904 that staff were specifically allocated to research and provided with accommodation for such purposes. Initially experiments were conducted in the GPO (West) building, which was later known as the Central Telegraph Office (CTO).

In 1912, when the Post Office took over the National Telephone Company, a research branch was established as part of the Engineering Department, reporting to the Engineer-in-Chief. In 1914 land purchased at Dollis Hill, north London, provided the site for a new Post Office laboratory. Due to funding problems and the disruption of the First World War, research workers were not established at Dollis Hill until 1921, and were housed in wooden huts until the opening of a permanent block of buildings in 1933. Above the door was enscribed "Research is the door to tomorrow" (Post Office Magazine, c1934).

  • View 1904 – 1919 collection
  • View 1910 – 1969 collection

Telecommunications headquarters research department reports, 1968 - 1981

In 1968, as part of the reorganization of the Post Office, the Research section ceased to be part of the Engineering Department and was established as the Research Department within the newly created Telecommunications Headquarters function. At the same time, a handful of staff transferred from the old research section at Dollis Hill to new laboratories at Martlesham Heath near Ipswich, Dollis Hill was finally closed in 1975 when the new Research Centre at Martlesham was officially opened. The Research Department remained within the Telecommunications side of the Post Office, reporting to the Senior Director of Development, and was transferred to British Telecom when the Post Office Corporation was divided in 1981.

With the establishment of the new Research Department in 1968, a new series of Research Reports was set up.

Post 30 - Registered Files: Minuted Papers (England and Wales), 1867 – 1961

The system of "minuting" papers submitted to the Postmaster General by the Secretary to the Post Office for a decision (ie numbering them and separately copying the minute into volumes indexed by subject) was introduced in 1793. Post 30 is a list of those papers that survived the various reviewing processes over the years.

Post 31 - Registered Files: Minuted Papers (Ireland), 1870 – 1961

This sequence comprises "minuted" papers relating to Ireland for the period 1841 to 1960. "Minuted" papers were those papers which had been submitted to the Postmaster General for a decision, and then been retained in the Post Office registry.

Post 32 - Registered Files: Minuted Papers (Scotland), 1869 – 1951

This sequence comprises "minuted" papers relating to Post Office services in Scotland, although a proportion developed into cases of general interest. "Minuted" papers were those papers which had been submitted to the Postmaster General for a decision, and then been retained in the Post Office registry.

Post 33 - Registered Files: Minuted Papers (General), 1890 – 1968

Until 1921, several different major minute series were in use with telecommunications and postal issues within the same filing system for England and Wales (POST 30), Ireland (POST 31) and Scotland (POST 32).

In 1921, the several different minute series were replaced by a single all-embracing series (POST 33). In 1955 the registration of Headquarters files began to be decentralised under several local registries serving particular departments, although the "minuting" of cases considered worthy of preservation, and the assimilation of later cases with earlier existing minuted bundles, continued until 1973.

Post 121 - Registered Files: Minuted Papers (General), 1876 – 1981

This series comprises three sets of files which were found only after the appropriate classes (POST 30-33 and POST 102) had already been catalogued.

Files 1-338 are a collection of files which had been forgotten after the completion of the cases which caused their creation. They can be classified as belonging to the England and Wales, Ireland, Scotland and General series of papers (POST 30-33).

Files 339A-429 comprise papers which had remained in use in Headquarters departments, or had been forgotten, until the evacuation of the Headquarters Building in 1984. They can be classified as belonging to the England and Wales, General and Decimal Filing series of papers (POST 30, POST 33 and POST 102).

Files 430-452 are a collection of files which originated from a variety of filing series and registry systems, both centralised and decentralised.

Post 122 - Registered Files: Minuted Papers (General), 1882 – 1969

Following the decentralisation of the registry in 1955, the previous minuted papers sequence was closed and a new class set up for the listing of both the central registry's files and the decentralised registries' files from 1955 (POST 122).

TCB 2 - Minuted files, telecommunications, 1895 – 1978

In 1992 the Post Office Archives transferred to BT Archives a sequence of unlisted files with 'P' references dating mostly from 1960, when the Post Office Archives stopped including telecommunications-related minuted files in POST 122 in anticipation of their transfer to BT. Having lain forgotten in the old Post Office Headquarters building until after its closure following privatisation, these files were amalgamated with other minuted files already held by BT Archives and listed as TCB 2.

TCB 712 - Telecommunications Development Directorate (TDD), 1947 – 1979

The TDD Directorate Registry was a decentralised registry, established in late 1960s, formerly the registry of the Post Office Engineering Department Directorate. The series also includes a number of files marked SDD and DTD which appear to be other decentralised registries that used the same subject classifications and that were, at some point, subsumed into the TDD registry.

TCB 711 - Network Planning Directorate (NPD), 1966-1979

Files from the Network Planning Department registry.

TCC 304 - Managing Director, Telecommunications (TH/DM series)

Office papers of the managing director of telecommunications, 1972 - May 1981, and following the creation of the Board for the new British Telecommunications public corporation, the office papers of the deputy chairman of British Telecommunications, June 1981 - 1983.

The office of managing director of telecommunications was created following the the introduction of the Post Office Act, 1969, which split the Post Office corporation into two divisions, Posts and Telecommunications. The managing director of telecommunications headed the Telecommunications headquarters division and was responsible for the overall running of telecommunications operations and the formulation and promulgation of national policy and instructions.

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