Landis and Gyr Ltd London, UK

Long before Landis and Gyr developed prepaid optical telephone cards in the late seventies and early eighties intheir factory in Zug, Switzerland, they already were established in the UK producing utility meters (electricity, telephones, etc) for the British market and the Commonwealth.

Landis and Gyr were in the United Kingdom before the first world war in 1912. To mark 75 years in the UK in 1987 a special 5 unit BT Phonecard was commissioned (pictured right), some 9,000 copies were produced.

Pictured above - BT Phonecard (BTP001) celebrating Landis and Gyr's 75 years in the United Kingdom - 1912 to 1987

Landis & Gyr - Sodeco S.A. Switzerland

Landis and Gyr telephone cards were developed in Switzerland, by the telephony diversion of the company named Sodeco S.A. On many of the early internal test cards, the words 'Landis and Gyr' and 'Sodeco' would often appear together onthe face of a phonecard. The very first BT Phonecards were also produced in Switzerland and then brought into the UK to resell via newsagents, train stations, etc.

Pictured above - Landis and Gyr / Sodeco test card for the Netherlands.

Did you know? Early BT Phonecards that were produced in Switzerland, contain a control number (found on the reverse of each card) starting with the letter 'G'.

In 1987 Landis and Gyr developed colour printing on their telephone cards, previously all Phonecards produced by the company had been primarily of one colour e.g. green in the UK, as above with the pictured BTP001 Landis and Gyr 75th anniversary Phonecard.

The first mass produced or public issued BT Phonecard in the UK to feature colour printing was a card to commemorate Christmas in 1987.

Pictured above - the first public issued BT Phonecard (BTC004) to feature a colour photo. The card depicts a photo of Regents Street in London at Christmas.

The colour photo (pictured right) depicts London's Regent Street lit at night with Christmas lights. All 100,000 copies of this card were produced in Landis and Gyr's Switzerland factory.

Some years later production of Landis and Gyr optical phonecards for Great Britain was transferred to the Landis and Gyr factory in North Acton, London, England.

Pictured below - Landis and Gyr factory and offices in North Acton, London, England in the 1960's.

Landis and Gyr UK factory in North Acton, London, England

Bringing Optical Card Production to the UK

Landis and Gyr employee Barry Charles Nuttall was chosen in part, to head up the production of L&G optical cards in the UK factory. Barry joined Landis and Gyr in 1961 and in 1981 he started at the Phonecard division as a supervisor, going to the factory in Zug, Switzerland. Over the years Barryvisited the factory in Zug on many occasions to learn new procedures and new systems.

At the height of UK BT Phonecard production, Barry and a team of three other supervisors ensured the factory producing Phonecards ran production 24/7. The four supervisors along with 25 members of staff would work a daily three shift system. The three different shifts were 6am to 2pm, 2pm to 10pm and 10pm to 6am. This would help to ensure the factory produced telephone cards right around the clock and keep up with the high demand.

Pictured above - Landis and Gyr centenary since 1896 - the words "Celebrating 100 years" can be found on the reverse of the 10unit BT Phonecard issued in 1996.

As well as the UK Landis and Gyr factory producing BT Phonecards for British Telecom, cards were also produced for the UK Prison service, and a number of other countries from around in the world including Taiwan and Israel.

Finally, in 1996, and with BT's decision to stop using optical card technology in favour of micro chip card technology, the factory producing the cards was closed. Landis and Gyr themselves were brought out by Siemens.

Many thanks to Barry's family for the above information about the UK factory.

Were you a former employee of Landis and Gyr producing telephone cards in North Acton, London? Can you help provide further information, photos, Phonecards from your time at the factory? If so I'd be extremely keen to hear from you.

Last updated: 8th January 2024

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