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Thomas Hudson, Manchester’s first telephone

The first telephone installed anywhere within the country under licence to the Post Office was in the premises of Thomas Hudson, hardware merchant of Shudehill.

Grid reference:

Map showing the location of Thomas Hudson's premises on Shudehill

A picture showing the approximate location of Thomas Hudson's premises on Shudehill
This building is believed to be very close to the location of Thomas Hudson's premises on Shudehill where the firts telephone was installed.

Alexander Graham Bell submitted his patent for the telephone on 14th February 1876 and in January 1878 demonstrated it to Queen Victoria at Osborne House on the Isle of White. That same month, on Saturday 26th January 1878, the Manchester Weekly Times carried a small article headed, “The Telephone”. It reported that Thomas Hudson, a hardware merchant, had taken delivery of the city’s first telephone which was installed by David Moseley and Sons to connect his premises in Dantzic Street with those in Shudehill. The communication equipment in question was rather advanced for as the article said, it had one telephone for speaking and another for listening purposes together with an automatic switch which prevented the circuit being left open when not in use. This installation was very typical of the day in that the telephone was for business use and simply provided a point to point connection.

However, Manchester’s first telephone had another important claim to fame. It had been provided by Bell’s UK agent and was the first installed anywhere in the county under licence from the Post Office.

The Manchester Weekly Times for Saturday 26th January 1878
The Manchester Weekly Times for Saturday 26th January 1878 carrying the article about Manchester’s - and the country’s - first telephone.

The article reads . . . .

The Telephone

“Mr Thomas Hudson, hardware merchant, of Shudehill, is the first firm in this city to have a full equipment of Bell’s telephone, communicating as it does between his general offices in Dantzic Street and his hardware and furnishing establishment in Shudehill. The arrangement referred to is provided at each end with a telephone for speaking and one for listening purposes. An improvement has been made by the introduction of an automatic switch so arranged as to leave in circuit the “Bell for attention” whenever the telephone is in disuse. This construction, which is most complete and prettily arranged, prevents the liability of the wire being left in wrong circuit through any remissness of the person in charge of the instruments. The communication was completed by Messrs. David Moseley and Sons, agents for the telephone.”