Final BT Phone Book in London: After 144 years 'hold on to it forever'

First published in 1880 in London, BT's final Phone Book is now being delivered.

This article contains affiliate links. We may earn a small commission on items purchased through this article, but that does not affect our editorial judgement.

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

For our whole lives The Phone Book - previously a chunky slab of paper - has been dropping onto doorsteps and through letter boxes of London households, but it is soon to be no more.

BT announced last year that it would cease publication of one of the country's most-owned books, and in the capital the London North edition has landed.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The cover declares: "The Phone Book. We've been delivering it to you from 18800 to 2024.

"Our last book has landed through your door...hold on to it forever."

Announcing the end of the book in May, BT's director of UK portfolio businesses, Faisal Mahomed, wrote: "With the explosion in data and choice of devices over the past decade, and the increased digitisation of services, the printed Phone Book has now become a memory for many.

"In fact, we still print 18 million Phone Books every year, but with dwindling demand and the high environmental impact of printing and distributing these hard copies, we’ve decided that March 2024 will see the last books rolling off the print run.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"It’s a move that will have a positive impact on the environment: helping us save around 6,000 tonnes of paper every year – the equivalent of 72,000 trees. It will also help us progress towards BT Group’s target to become a Net Zero business by 2030."

He said BT had consulted with Ofcom to put measures in place to support customers who still rely on the Phone Book. The company recommends people keep hold of the final edition, saying only a small amount of information changes each year. Phone Book services can still be consulted online.

The last ever BT Phone Book for north London.The last ever BT Phone Book for north London.
The last ever BT Phone Book for north London.

The Phone Book history

On January 15 1880, The Telephone Company issued the first Phone Book, detailing 248 personal and business names in London, but no numbers.

The first national Phone Book was published in 1896 in a single volume, containing 1,350 pages and 81,000 entries. By 1914, the print run of 1.5 million was the largest printing contract in the UK.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In 2005 the directory became accessible online, and was later overhauled to make it more accessible in 2021.

In 2010 the book was resized to fit through letter boxes and in 2019 the plastic wrapping was dropped.

In 2024, with an official publication date of March 31, the final Phone Book arrived.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.