Our History

The name Modern Telephones first appeared on 21st March 1945 when the Company was originally formed. Modern Telephones was founded as part of the Shipton Group of Companies which included businesses such as Shipton Automation, Autophone Limited, Shipton Communications, Modern Alarms and British Home and Office Telephones which had been in existence since 1894 at the very dawn of the telephone age. The Shipton Group of Companies had been founded as long ago as 1923 by Mr Edward Shipton, a visionary developer of telecommunications devices and other applications (as well as being the eponym for The Shipton Group).

Modern Telephones was responsible for the implementation of internal telephone systems within the Shipton Group and provided leading edge on site communications solutions available at the time. The Company had manufactured bomb timing and torpedo guidance devices during the war and it was from these technologies and resources that Modern Telephones developed many of the switching and relay solutions used in Shipton products over the following ten years.

Mr Edward Shipton
  Mr Edward Shipton

Modern Telephones began to import equipment during the 1960’s from Companies such as Telefonbau und Normalzeit (T&N) and Deutsche Telephonwerke AG & Co (DeTeWe) as well as telephone handsets from Kapsch und Söhne (K&S) in Austria. During this time Shipton had developed an interest in plastics development (originally for the cover of telephone instruments and then from developments observed by Mr. Edward Shipton in the United States). This interest in plastics resulted in the development and manufacture of the barrel for the ball-point pen among other ideas. Mr. Shipton was the first to develop the ‘Bottle blowing process’. This process allowed a plastic bottle to be blown in one piece which meant no leakage or evaporation of fluid as the screw cap could be sealed.  Glass had become expensive so it was an ideal solution; this also led to the “plastic lemon” product which was a favourite with housewives. Pure lemon juice had not been tasted for seven years and this was a novel and practical way of packaging the liquid. With Shipton’s discovery of the usefulness of plastics he went on to design the first plastic deaf aid and then moved onto the toy business, creating toy cars and items such as plastic cricket bats and stumps! (Do you remember them?)

Modern Telephones Brochure from 1969

Despite all these adventures into plastics, the development of the telephone side of the business was still progressing. Modern Telephones developers had designed a push-button telephone to replace the internal PAX system, this was the first commercial use of a push button telephone, so familiar today.

In 1960, Edward Shipton decided to retire and sold his shares to Colin Wills who sold his own private company (English Telephones Limited) into the Shipton Group Public Company. Modern Telephones was used as the new central Group Company and the Company changed it’s name to Shipton Automation Ltd and a new chapter of the name of Modern Telephones was to begin.

Throughout the 60‘s the Company developed its telecommunications interests, acquiring names such as Sound Diffusion among others. In 1971 Modern Telephones changed it’s name to Shipton Communications and obtained a license to provide PABX systems onto the Post Office network. This was a revolutionary step and took the Company into a much more formal relationship with it’s supplier in Germany, DeTeWe-AG. In the 1980’s the UK liberalised its Telecommunications industry and Shiptons was one of the first to take advantage, with the DeTeWe designed E-12 system. The E-12 system became the first private system to be accredited to be sold in the UK in 1981, some of the pea green or dark brown handsets are still in use today. The E-12 system became so successful in the UK that the systems manufacturers from Germany became the owners of Shipton Communications in the mid 1990’s.

Modern Telephones Brochure 1969  

The Company changed its name, first to DeTeWe-Shipton Communications and then finally to just DeTeWe Ltd. In 2005 DeTeWe- AG was sold to Aastra in Canada and DeTeWe Group Ltd changed its name to Communio Group Limited. In 2006, Andy Turner, the previous Technical Director of Communio Group Limited became the owner of the Group. The old Shipton element of the business was acquired by Nine Telecom Group in 2009 and Communio Group was reformed by Andy Turner and Brendan Wild as Modern Telephones, the historic name of the original Company.

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