111. Technology in the Early 1970s

Grandma and Grandad Did Not Have a Phone

For much of this period, grandma and grandad did not have a phone. I don’t really know why not. They had been living in the house from when they built it in 1964 (see Chapter 76). They had had a phone previously when they lived in Kirkby (see Chapter 53). It was the sort of thing I would have expected grandad to organise as part of the construction of the house. I don’t know if this means getting a phone was difficult even then.

A Waiting List

Mum phoned on 30 December 1972 to ask about getting a phone but she was told there would be none for a year as there was a waiting list.

A Party Line

So, in January 1973, grandad asked Ron if he would be willing to go on a party line and he agreed.

The Phone is Installed

At the end of the month, grandad heard from the GPO that they would fix the phone as soon as possible. On Saturday 17 February 1973, someone came from the Post Office to say they would install the telephone on Monday. They did and it took about two hours.

1970s-style phone. More colours were available than black Bakelite © Joybot and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Phone Bills and Phone Calls

Sometimes, after that, grandad noted when they paid their phone bill and when they made or received a call. For example, grandma phoned him when she was away in Lowestoft in June 1973 (see Chapter 106) and mum phoned them when Alan was not well on 6 December 1973. In addition, Dolly Smith phoned on 2 November 1974, to say that John Smith had died (see Chapter 100).

Problems with the Phone

Occasionally, there were some problems with the phone. For example, in November 1973, the phone stopped working and it was repaired two days later.


Grandad sometimes noted what they saw on television. This included major news and sports events (see Chapter 112) and TV programmes they watched regularly, including the Golden Shot (see Chapter 106).

TV Licence

Also, grandad sometimes noted renewing their television licence. For example, in April 1970 and 1971. In 1971 grandad noted that it cost £6.

Example of 1971 black and white (monochrome) TV licence which cost £6 as noted by grandad

Three Channels

In January 1972, someone came and fixed them a new TV aerial which allowed them to get BBC 1 and 2 and ITA 1 (see Chapter 108).

TVs Were Unreliable

The TV sets of the time were quite unreliable. I remember talking to someone about this and they advocated renting for this reason. If you rented, it was the rental company’s responsibility to repair when broken. If you bought and then needed repairs., you could be on your own. In December 1973, grandad had to let someone into Ron’s house to see to his TV which was not working.

Frequent Repairs

Grandma and grandad were often getting their set repaired. Initially, they got any such repairs through Hubbards (see Chapter 84). Often, this just involved replacing a valve but, in the end, the tube went so they decided to buy a new television through Panks (see Chapter 96).

Colour Television

One of the main developments around this time concerned the switch to colour television. In October 1972, Barbara Carpenter, grandma and grandad’s next-door neighbour, got a colour television. Grandad went round to watch “Dixon of Dock Green” and noted that the picture was good. This was a Saturday and “Dixon of Dock Green” was on BBC1 at 6.45pm. That episode was called “Gun Point”.

The very next night, grandad went to Barbara’s again to watch TV in colour. The next month, in November 1973, grandma went to Barbara’s to watch Princess Anne’s wedding in colour (see Chapter 101).

Extract from the Radio Times for 21 October 1972 showing early evening viewing including “Dixon of Dock Green” which was the first TV programme that grandad watched in colour at Barbara Carpenter’s.


Grandma and grandad both listened to the radio although radios seemed to suffer similar reliability issues to televisions during this period. In March 1972, grandma bought a new Roberts radio from Panks (see Chapter 108).

Hi-Fi and Stereo

During this period, there were developments in both High Fidelity and Stereo sound.

Mum and Dad’s Hi-Fi

In September 1971, when Ray Cirket visited, grandad noted that he was very interested in mum and dad’s Hi-Fi (see Chapter 106).

Irene and Ken Bell’s Stereo

In February 1972, Ken and Irene had a new stereo radio and record player delivered but they found that the automatic record changer did not work. Someone came from Panks the next day and fixed that. The next month, in March 1972, grandad went to Irene’s to tape a record of M Anderson. I wonder if this referred to American singer Marian Anderson. Grandad said he was not able to as their set was stereo. I don’t really understand this as I would have thought you could play a mono recording on stereo equipment.

Listening to Music

Occasionally, during this period, grandma and/or grandad went to listen to music at other people’s houses. For example, in February 1972, grandma and Miss Cooke went to hear Mr and Mrs Elsegood’s record player in the afternoon.  The month after that, in April 1972, grandma and Auntie Dolly went to Irene’s to listen to records. Later that year. In August 1974, Auntie Bertha went to Irene’s to hear Harry Secombe.

The October 1972 Radio Times that I bought for details of the first colour TV programme that grandad watched had no less than three different adverts for HiFi or stereo equipment. Two are shown here above and below.
Advert for Ferguson stereo equipment that appeared in the Radio Times in October 1972
1973 advert for Sony stereo equipment. The advert refers to 4-channel stereo system which I recall being marketed as “quadraphonic”. I am not sure it ever caught on to the same extent as stereo. However, although it was considered an initial commercial failure, it was the precursor to modern surround sound systems.


Grandad remained interested in photography, particularly slide photography. In June 1970, grandad noted modifying Barbara’s slide viewer so that it would run from the mains (see Chapter 108).  That same day, while grandad was giving a slide show, the bulb burst but he had a spare so he replaced it and was able to continue.

Oberammergau Slide Shows

Grandma sometimes went to slide shows, for example, between 1970 and 1972, she attended a number of slide shows related to the Oberammergau trip. Details of the Oberammergau trip are found in Chapter 106. There were various slide shows from that trip, see Chapters 106 and 107.

Other Slide Shows

Other people gave picture shows during this period including Mrs Pointer, Dr Gale and Rev Warren. Dr Gale showed slides of his holiday in Capri and Rome.

Cine Film

In November 1972, while visiting, Jack Attwood showed them some cine film and grandad showed some of his stills.

Tape Recorder

I don’t know how much grandma and grandad used their tape recorder at this time. But, in January 1972, they gave it to mum. Grandad noted that they had bought it from Fishers of Huthwaite when they lived at Welbeck Street (see Chapter 84).

Tape Recorder Repairs

I assume it was the same tape recorder that grandad and Arthur tried unsuccessfully to repair in February 1974. So, in March 1974, mum took the Philips tape recorder to be repaired by Norvic Television Company[2] in St Benedict’s. On the 17th, mum brought it back. The cost was £12 plus £1.20 VAT making the total cost £13.20.

Norvic Television Company

In the 1967 Kelly’s Directory, Norvic Television and Electrical Co Ltd were described as domestic appliances, television and radio engineers at 40 Exchange Street. Similar details appear in Kelly’s Tradefinders for 1970-71 and 1971-72. I suspect this is the address grandad was referring to as it is on the corner of Exchange Street and St Andrews, which is a continuation of St Benedict’s. The premises are currently home to estate agents Property Ladder.

Advert for Norvic Television & Electrical Co Ltd that appeared in the Kelly’s Tradefinders for 1970-71 and 1971-72.

A Note on VAT

VAT replaced Purchase Tax in the UK in 1973 and was initially set at a rate of 10%. Grandad probably noted the tax because it was new and because it was applied at the point of sale and not manufacture as had been the case with Purchase Tax.


In July 1971, Arthur Elsegood lent grandad his telescope/episcope. Grandad started using it on the 19th. The lamp fused!

An episcope allowed the projection of solid objects, such as photographs and was the forerunner of the overhead projector. On balance, I think it was probably an episcope as reference to a lamp makes no sense for a telescope.

Example of episcope © Miloš Jurišić and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Spin Dryer

Grandad’s diaries did not contain a great deal about household appliances but, in December 1972, the spin dryer went “wonky”. Someone came to fix it. Apparently, it was the switch for the dryer which was a five-minute job to fix. Grandma and grandad bought a trolley from him for £9 as otherwise he would have had to charge them £3 just for the callout. He waived that charge because they bought the trolley. I am not entirely sure what this trolley was.