Telephone Exchange bombings

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Telephone Exchange bombings
Part of The Troubles
LocationLondon, England
Date17 December 1974
Attack type
Time bomb
WeaponsGelignite explosives
Deaths1 civilian
6 (1 police officer & 5 civilians)
PerpetratorsProvisional IRA
Provisional IRA's Balcombe Street Gang

On 17 December 1974, the Provisional IRA's Balcombe Street active service unit planted three time bombs at telephone exchanges around London. The bombs exploded in quick succession of each other killing one civilian and injuring five others and one London police officer.

The first bomb went off at a GPO telephone exchange at New Compton Street in Soho. The bomb exploded shortly after an unknown woman with an Irish accent telephoned a warning to a local newspaper. Nobody was injured in this attack.[1]

The second bomb went off at a GPO Telephone exchange at Chenies Street near Tottenham Court Road. This blast killed civilian George Arthur (34) who worked as a post office telephonist. Two other people were injured in this bombing including a police officer & a civilian telephoner worker.[2] Arthur was the first person the Balcombe Street unit killed since 11 November when they shot dead Alan Quatermaine.[3]

The third and final bomb went off at the GPO Telephone exchange at Draycott Avenue in Chelsea. This bomb injured another four civilians.[4][5]


After the bombings Tom Jackson, who was the general secretary of the Union of Post Office Workers, said in a statement: “If the I.R.A. think they're going to bomb telephonists and postmen out of jobs, they are not going to do it.”

Two days after the Telephone Exchange bombings on the 19 December the same Provisional IRA unit exploded a car bomb outside Selfridges department store on Oxford Street, causing £1.5 million worth of damage and injuring nine people.[6] And two days after the Selfridges bombing, on the 21 December again the same IRA unit exploded a bomb in Harrods Department Store, which caused a large fire in the store and injured one employee.[7]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Bombs in London Hit Phone Offices". 18 December 1974 – via
  2. ^ "Lawton Constitution Archives, Dec 18, 1974, p. 39".
  3. ^ Melaugh, Dr Martin. "CAIN: Chronology of the Conflict 1974".
  4. ^ "Prevention of Terrorism Legislation (Hansard, 4 March 1993)".
  5. ^ "The Camera Assassin - Ian Cutler, former News of the World photographer, tells all".
  6. ^ "CAIN: Chronology of the Conflict 1974".
  7. ^ "CAIN: Chronology of the Conflict 1974".