As I write this month’s newsletter, there is a glimmer of hope of being able to restart our volunteering activities at Fagan Park in the not too distant future. We have not been able to carry out any activities for a couple of months or more, and like most other organisations and businesses, restarting will present its challenges. We have to remain vigilant and maintain our ‘social distancing’ to ensure there is no community spreading of the virus.

A little more Fagan Park history. One of the features in the hallway of Netherby Homestead is a British Ericsson wooden box telephone. These phones were introduced in the 1920’s and many continued in use right into the 1950’s, until automatic telephone exchanges came into being requiring phones with rotary dials. We know that the Fagan’s phone number was Dural 6.

Our telephone was donated in 2009, and required some refurbishment and replacement parts, obtainable from enthusiasts. It uses a magneto cranked by a handle to alert the exchange operator that you wish to make a call, with connection made manually by the operator.

Our phone is set up to interwork with a black Bakelite phone of the 40’s and 50’s, also fitted with a magneto, located in another room. They are powered by 3 volt dry-cell batteries, the large original style being no longer available. The microphone is a carbon type, in which granules of carbon vibrated by your voice cause a varying current to be transmitted down the wire, and the receiver is a coil and diaphragm type. We encourage kids to use the phones to hold a conversation as a contrast to the highly sophisticated phones of today.

Up until the advent of automatic exchanges, operator connected calls were usually limited to 3 minutes duration, and the operator would butt in and ask if you wished to extend, and you would be charged an additional amount. If there were other calls pending, you would be told to conclude your conversation, because frequently there was only one telephone line between adjacent towns or exchanges, which had to be shared by everyone.

Now is a good time to consider volunteering with the Friends of Fagan Park. Last month I outlined some of the diverse activities we are engaged in, and our welcome remains open at all times to newcomers.

If you would like to contact us, call Ian 0419 435 475, or Vern 0405 703 413.

We have resumed our volunteering activities from Tuesday 19 May. We will welcome visitors subject to observing social isolation rules.