Plessey at the Edge book


In reverse chronological order are some of the facts we have unearthed or our contributors have provided. The columns to the right show the estimated numbers of people employed.

Special thanks to Carole Black, Roy Montrose, Gordon Turner, Tommy Gray and Steve Burke.

Year Milestone Edge Lane Other NW Sites UK World
2006 Edge Lane closes.
2005 Remaining staff begin to transfer to Chorley. 300
2001 Iceland Telecom chooses SmartPhotoniX for its optical future. Finland choose Marconi to supply and install its DWDM optical networking equipment and network management system.
2000 Sales in 140 countries. Marconi's optical technology chosen by the Benetton Formula 1 racing team to deliver lightening-fast access to information for team members around the world. The cars and team sport the Marconi logo. Marconi acquires Bosch Telecommunications. Marconi and Tein Telecom sign a £ 62 million three year contract with Belgium national operator Belgacom for a nationwide network based on Marconi's SDH optical transmission equipment. The EITele Group of Norway award a contract worth £ 10 million for Marconi's SDH equipment. 55000
1999 Marconi acquires Reltec Corporation. Telephone Manufactures of South Africa (TEMSA) acquired to form a new subsidiary called Marconi Communications South Africa with over 1000 employees.
1999 Marconi acquires FORE Systems of the USA.
1999 Marconi acquires RDC. SDH Partnership announced with Ericsson.
1999 Marconi unveils the new public network comprising a uniquely powerful combination of DWDM IP and ATM technologies. And at its heart the world's first electronically-tuneable laser - a 31-channel optical multiplexer and the ForeRunner ASX-4 ATM switch featuring voice and video applications for the first time.
1999 Marconi chosen as second supplier to roll out SDH in Bejing
1999 Hourly paid personnel taken off the clocking in system and transferred on to monthly pay as per staff.
1999 GEC renamed itself Marconi plc, focussing on communications and IT.
1998 GPT secures $2.5M order from Thailand for Payphone systems
1993 GPT celebrates 90 years on the Edge Lane site - and wins Best Factory award. 2100 12000
1991 British Telecom relaunched as BT.
1989 GEC and Siemens acquire Plessey. GPT ownership becomes 60 per cent GEC 40 per cent Siemens.
1988 GPT (GEC Plessey Telecommunications) formed by merger of telecommunication divisions of GEC and Plessey. 24000
1987 First export order for System X placed by Colombia. Opening of Plessey Centre by HM The Queen
1985 The Huyton factory (720 employee's worked there at the time) closed it's doors for good and the Payphone product was transferred to Plessey Chorley.
1984 Formation of British Telecommunications plc. First production System X telephone exchange installed in UK network. Last Strowger equipment shipped to BT.
1983 Plessey one of four principals in Wavertree Technology Park company developing Technology Park adjacent to Edge Lane.
1983 Hourly paid personnel were allowed to join the company pension scheme.
1982 First pilot System X trunk exchange for Baynard House central London. Plessey prime contractor for System X development and system design authority for British Telecom.
1981 The first System X electronic exchange is delivered to British Telecom 47000
1980 Start of six-year investment and redevelopment programme. Launch of British Telecom (remains part of Post Office until 1981). Development Contract awarded for the payphone.
1979 First System X exchange produced.
1977 Due to Post Office cutbacks Plessey had to make 4800 workers on Merseyside redundant costing nearly £ 8m.
1976 There were 130 Plessey establishments in the UK and 250 worldwide. Plessey was represented in 136 countries. 50700
1975 Hourly paid personnel with ten years service were given the same sick pay scheme as Staff personnel on a trial basis. 10000
1974 Plessey's digital telephone exchange TXE4 was ready. 11500 75000
1974 Plessey opened the Huyton Factory in Wilson Road to produce TXE4 Equipment and later Payphones. At it's peak approximately 500 people worked there.
1973 60000
1971 IATAE (International Accounting and Traffic Analysis Equipment) installed at Wood Street London - first time Plessey Telecommunications has installed a computer as part of an exchange.Plessey installed its 100th TXE exchange and telephone sales topped £ 100m. 85000
1970 Start of decade of redevelopment: - manufacture of electronic telephone exchanges - renovation of buildings 13000
1969 Stored program control for main exchanges starts.
1966 Post Office accepts Crossbar as interim system for UK network.
1965 Edge lane becomes HQ for Plessey Telecoms. First overseas Crossbar local exchange installed in Portugal.
1964 The Strowger Works at Edge Lane became the headquarters of Plessey Telecommunications. 30000
1963 14000
1962 First British electronic exchange opens - Edge Lane engineers play major part in systems design.
1961 Plessey ATE and Encsson Telephones merge forming the largest telecoms and electronics group in the UK.
1960 Post-war boom had led to new technologies. Satellite factories around the world: site growth peaks. First magnetic drum in STD system installed.
1956 8000
1950 Indian factory established for manufacture of Strowger equipment.
1948 Crossbar manufacturing rights acquired.
1947 Communications Systems formed to control private telephone operation. Three-week site shutdown because of coal shortage for heating.
1945 Demand for telecoms equipment grows and site develops quickly.
1939 Committed to war effort manufacturing essential communications equipment bomb release mechanisms gun parts etc. Post Office continues conversion to automatic exchanges.
1936 Name changed to Automatic Telephone and Electric Company (ATE) to reflect wide product range (includes traffic signals; remote control equipment; street lighting control and XCEL range of domestic equipment.
1932 ATM becomes Automatic Electric Company. Business included automatic traffic lights.
1931 Agreement with Poland to manufacture Strowger equipment
1930 Production of private exchanges starts
1927 First exchange of ATM-designed Director system to link lines in London area installed at Holborn.
1925 Edge Lane plant was enlarged.
1923 Post Office adopts Strowger as standard.
1922 Work starts on step by step system in Argentina
1920 Request from Argentina to replace Buenos Aires telephone system with Strowger.
1918 When war ends expanded production areas again used for telephone equipment.
1914 First Strowger export orders for Simla, India. Diversification for war effort (Edge Lane manufactures shell fuses, parts for mines, field telephones and wireless sets). Lack of telephone orders leads to XCEL range of domestic appliances.
1912 Automatic Telephone Manufacturing Company took over the already existing works and relevant staff of the British Insulated and Helsby Cable Company (later BICC). National Telephone Company licence expires and Post Office controls UK Telephone System. First Strowger exchanges supplied to Post Office for Epsom and Central London. 800
1911 Formation of Automatic Telephone Manufacturing Company (ATM)
Strowger automatic telephone system patent rights acquired from Automatic Electric Company of Chicago.
1903 Edge Lane site occupied