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First introduced in the early 1920s, the first phone boxes were cream with red detailing. The Post office’s decision to paint them red all over met with opposition in rural areas - they were considered too gaudy - no doubt the same places that now complain at any attempt to do away with the red village phone box. For some interior nostalgia, see www.unicornkiosks.com

Any comments - or a suggestion for a London secret? Please e-mail me.

Phones Boxes

K6

The commonest design on our streets - there are 1,800 Listed K6s in England - was designed by Scott to mark the Silver Jubilee of King George V in 1935. Note the wider space between the glazing bars in the centre - designed to stop vandalism by giving a better view of the occupant - and the embossed crown.

Smithfield Market EC1
Tube: Barbican

K8

The last of the great red boxes, Kiosk 8 was designed by Bruce Martin in 1968 to fit a very complex brief from Tony Benn’s Postmaster General’s Office. Hailed as a masterpiece of industrial design - paring down the K6’s 450 pieces to just 183 - of the 11,000 made, only 12 remain, none in BT use in London.

High Street Kensington tube W8
Tube: High Street Kensington

K2

The K2 (Kiosk No. 2) was the winning design by architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott in a competition organised by the Royal Fine Art Commission in 1926. The perforated crowns were for ventilation. Made of cast iron, it had 18 individual panes of glass on three sides. There are just over 200 K2s left in London.

Temple Place W2
Tube: Temple

K3

The K2 was so expensive - £50 - that it was only used in London. In 1929, Scott designed the cheaper K3 - £35 each - which was used outside the capital. More than 12,000 were put up, but there are only three left in the UK and the only one in London is this one outside the Parrot House at Regent’s Park Zoo.

Regent’s Park Zoo NW1
Tube: Regent’s Park

Police Box

Anyone looking for  surviving example of a police call box - as used by Dr Who for his Tardis - will have to go to Glasgow to see the UK’s two remaining ones. Otherwise, this modern box outside Earls Court tube pays homage to this once-familiar sight but is actually a small, hi-tech police station with CCTV equipment.

Guildhall Yard EC2
Tube: Earls Court

Police Phone

The wooden police call boxes familiar from Doctor Who have disappeared from our streets but there are still a few examples of the sturdier phones on posts. Made of cast iron, painted blue, they were for the use of both the police and the public in the days before police radios or mobile phones.

Grosvenor Square W1
Tube: Bond Street

Police Phone

Here’s some better detail of a police box, this one at the Guildhall in the City. Their most common use was for members of the public to call for help with pregnancy or ‘sudden illness. The first UK boxes appeared in 1891 and went out of use after the introduction of the 999 system in the late 1930s.

Walbroook EC4
Tube: Bank

KX100

In 1985, the newly branded British Telecom (BT) introduced the KX range, with better access for the disabled and easier to maintain, partly through being more vandal proof. Always unpopular, BT added a domed red roof and red detailing in tribute to the classic phone box to make the KX Plus.

Kensington Gore SW7
Tube: High Street Kensington

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