WHILE the younger generation may struggle to remember the time before the internet and mobile phones, old technology continues to ring a bell for customers at an historic pub.

Behind the counter at the Birch Hall Inn, at Beck Hole, in the North York Moors, a Bakelite phone installed 77 years ago remains one of the communication methods of choice, as the hamlet is a mobile signal blackspot.

While Alexander Graham Bell was awarded the first US patent for the invention of the telephone in 1876, it took until 1938 for the technology to reach the isolated cluster of nine cottages, a farm and a pub.

It is thought the 1933 model set is the oldest working telephone in its original position in the country.

It features its original number, 245, inside the round-dial, to which eight numbers have since been added.

Landlady Glenys Crampton said: "It's just there in the background on the counter, but when I get it out most people are quite surprised to see it.

"It's a bit muffly in the ear, you get crackly noises, you have to shout a bit."

The 63-year-old said she had thought the phone on the living room mantelpiece was just an ornament when she bought the 17th Century premises in 1981.

She later discovered the phone, as the first in the hamlet, was brought out of the then living room for residents to call relatives or the local GP.

Mrs Crampton said: "When the BT engineers told us it would no longer work with the new exchange and we reluctantly got a new one, we wouldn't let them take the old one away."

She was delighted when a customer who spotted the phone gathering dust on a shelf, with its braided cord attached to the original and rare bell box, and reinstated it.

As mobile phone firms report 4G usage begin to outpace that of 3G, Mrs Crampton considers the inn's phone too precious for continuous use, but sometimes brings it back into action when customers find themselves unable to use their mobiles.

Mrs Crampton said: "It's just nice to have an old phone which still works, it's lovely to listen to it.

"I enjoy using the dial, it's a much slower way of doing it.

"There's a little ping when the dial comes back to a stop."

Mrs Crampton said she had never had the phone valued.

She said: "It is part of the fixtures and fittings and will hopefully be here when we leave."