Hill Street, Totterdown, Bristol, BS3 4TW

Dale Wakefield set up Bristol Gay Switchboard on February 14, 1975, with the help of a small group of gay men. It followed the establishment of London Switchboard less than a year earlier in March 1974.

The need for a switchboard service was felt when Dale attended a Wednesday meeting of a lesbian group at a house which also accommodated the Women’s Centre and the first Bristol refuge. The premises began receiving calls throughout the week from lesbians and gay men looking for help and information.

In response to this need, Dale gathered a group of volunteers and set up Bristol Gay Switchboard in the back bedroom of her house in Hill Street, Totterdown. The service used her own house phone. During the advertised opening hours calls were taken by volunteers. However calls continued to arrive at all hours of the day and night, seven days a week, some from people who were suicidal. Dale dealt with these out-of-hours calls single-handed for the first three years of Switchboard’s existence.

In about 1978 the service moved to the Bristol Gay Centre and was staffed by a team of volunteers.

  3 Responses to “Hill Street, Totterdown”

  1. The venue that the gay womens group met in was not council premises, but the basement of Ellen Malos house, which famously housed the Womens Centre and the first Bristol refuge as well!

    • Apologies Dale… I think I got mixed up with Angela Needham’s MCC meetings which I believe did meet initially in Council premises in Clifton. I’ll correct it now.

  2. I didn’t handle the out of hours calls on my own, Annie Smith did to, plus she was the one that, as a general, rule went to the phone box to phone an ambulance, or turned out in the night to drive both of us to any local suicides ….

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