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Mobile Phone Museum, sponsored by Vodafone, is launched in London by Newbury-based curator



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The story of the mobile phone is synonymous with Newbury. And now one local man’s private haul is being showcased in a new online museum.

Founder and co-curator of the project, Ben Wood, from Donnington, began collecting phones by accident after rescuing some from a skip at Vodafone, where he worked in 1995.

The Mobile Phone Museum collection – which was officially launched in London on Tuesday - now has more than 5,000 devices in it.

Founder of the Mobile Phone Museum, Ben Wood, with some of the collection
Founder of the Mobile Phone Museum, Ben Wood, with some of the collection

“People were walking out with these big old phones to chuck them out,” he explained. “I said ‘no you can’t do that, please give them to me’.

“And that was the beginning of me starting to collect mobile phones.

“For me it’s not about the technology, but about the history of the design. There was this explosion of design, until 2007 when Steve Jobs walked onto a stage and pulled the iPhone out of his pocket.

“I started collecting them just at the right time; there’s this incredible design story.”

Mr Wood, who has appeared on TV shows Collector’s Lot, The One Show and Inside Out, began cataloguing his collection in 2015.

He has now pooled it with that of a friend, Matt Chatterley, and created a charitable company – whose six trustees also include Newbury councillor Steve Masters - to protect the phones and the social history that their existence charts.

“To date we have been lucky enough to have had support from a few people close to the project, but a significant sponsorship deal with Vodafone UK has given the charity a firmer financial footing,” added Mr Wood. “We hope this will be the first of several larger sponsorship initiatives to drive the project forward.”

Some of the older phones took a nostalgic trip through Newbury town centre recently
Some of the older phones took a nostalgic trip through Newbury town centre recently

Max Taylor, Vodafone’s consumer director, said: "Looking back at the first phones we launched, way back in 1985, shows the incredible evolution on these devices - and the way we use them. We hope that by supporting Ben’s unique museum collection, we'll be able to help people reminisce about the phones they've had over the years, and get excited about what might be possible in the future."

The 2,100 individual phones are now all available to see and find out more about in the online museum.

Mr Wood, who was part of the team at Vodafone that launched SMS and mobile data many years ago and now runs his own mobile phone technology consultancy, CCS Insights, said: “I was at this amazing beginning of this incredible journey and you see that evolution in the museum too.”

Newbury is home to telecoms giant, Vodafone, who made the first call on a UK cellular network, at just after midnight on January 1, 1985.

You can see the collection by visiting www.mobilephonemuseum.com

The older phones in the collection turned some heads when they took a recent trip into Newbury town centre
The older phones in the collection turned some heads when they took a recent trip into Newbury town centre


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