"Three minutes ... are you extending your call?"

HELLO AND GOODBYE:  Carol Holstein as she appeared on the front page of the Chronicle on May 19, 1982 to mark the change to the automatic exchange.

HELLO AND GOODBYE: Carol Holstein as she appeared on the front page of the Chronicle on May 19, 1982 to mark the change to the automatic exchange.

“Three Minutes ….. Are You Extending….?”

Those friendly familiar words spoken by Telecom’s “Hello Girls” to remind callers of the time ticking on their long distance calls came to an end 35 years ago this Friday, May 19, when the Stroud and Stroud Road telephone exchanges went automatic.

The two manual exchanges were serving 210 and 65 subscribers and the new automatic exchange would not only combine these subscribers but provide improved long distance calls  by increasing the number of lines in from four to 10 and  lines out from six  to 11.

This eliminated having to wait up to an hour for booked calls to be put through.

Margaret Worth who was one of the Telecom team still lives in Stroud and remains close friends with fellow colleagues Vicki Wilson, Debbi Priddis and Carol Holstein.

She fondly remembers that time and whilst three girls chose to be transferred to Hamilton and Taree exchanges, the others moved on to different pastures.

Margaret believes most are still living in the Newcastle, Stroud, Dungog, Taree district.

Sadly one colleague, Noelene Worth who was Margaret’s sister-in-law, passed away.

The Stroud Road manual telephone exchange was donated to the Stroud Historical Society and can be viewed at the Courthouse Museum on Sundays from 11am – 1pm.

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