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UK's first mobile telephone call commemorated in Newbury

Blue Plaque at old Vodafone office unveiled

Chris Ord

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Chris Ord

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UK's first mobile telephone call commemorated in Newbury

A PLAQUE to commemorate the first public mobile telephone call made in the UK has been unveiled in Newbury.

Newbury Town Council welcomed the former chief executive officer of Vodafone, Sir Christopher Gent, to carry out the unveiling last Thursday at Thames Court, The Broadway.

The historic call was placed on January 1, 1985, in the offices then occupied by Vodafone at 20-22 The Broadway (now Thames Court). 

Speaking to the Newbury Weekly News Sir Chris said he was delighted to have been asked to the unveiling adding: "Newbury has been Vodafone's home from the very beginning.

"When I joined in 1985 it was in 64 buildings offices across Newbury and all of the early employees lived nearby.

"The fact it is now a global enterprise, it's all part of the history."

The deputy leader of Newbury Town Council, Anthony Pick, added: “This plaque commemorates an event which was pivotal in the history of Vodafone and mobile telephony in the UK, and in the development of Vodafone in Newbury, which has been so important to the town. 

“Although specialists in the field might have foreseen what could arise from this technology, it has exceeded the expectations of all of us.”

The call was made from St Katharine Dock in London by Ernie Wise, half of the late comedy duo Morecambe and Wise.

A crowd gathered to witness him call up the Vodafone office in Newbury using a Transportable Vodafone VT1, weighing around five kilos and costing the equivalent of £5,000.

The plaque is the fourth in a series of heritage plaques being installed around the town to celebrate residents or events that have made an historical impact on society and follows those commemorating clothier John Winchcombe II, astronomer Francis Baily and founder of modern historical studies of Newbury, Walter Money.

For a more in depth interview with Sir Christopher Gent grab a copy of next week's Newbury Weekly News. 

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