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The first telephone boxes, a porter’s rest from 1861 or a street lamp powered by sewage - just a few of the things we can walk past every day in London without often noticing them. Have you ever noticed the smallest Listed structures in London, the K2 phone boxes?

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

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Porter’s Rest

‘At The Suggestion Of R.A. Slaney Esq. Who For 20 Years Represented Shrewsbury In Parliament This Porter's Rest Was Erected In 1861 By The Vestry Of St. George Hanover Square For The Benefit Of Porters And Others Carrying Burdens.’

opp 128 Piccadilly W1
Tube: Hyde Park Corner

Police Call Box

Long before the days of radios or mobile phones, London’s police on the beat – or members of the public in need – were linked  to police stations by a chain of phones, either in blue boxes, like Dr Who’s famous Tardis, or in simpler structures such as this one tucked away at the bottom of Regent Street.

Piccadilly Circus W1
Tube: Piccadilly Circus

Webb Patent Sewer
Ventilating Gas Lamp

One of the last remnants of the ingenuity of the Victorian era, around 100 years old, this was designed to burn off methane from the sewers. As well as masking unpleasant smells for guests at the Savoy Hotel, it also gave light to keep ‘ladies of the night’ away from this dark corner.

Carting Lane WC2
Tube: Charing Cross

K2 Phone Boxes

Just inside the gates of the Royal Academy are these two Listed red phone boxes. They are the original 1926 wooden K2 design and cast iron prototype by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott that evolved into the more familiar K6 box in 1935. Scott also designed Waterloo Bridge and Battersea and Bankside power stations.

Burlington House, Piccadilly W1
Tube: Green Park

Milestone

Nowadays, we think of Kensington as the heart of London but here’s a reminder of how small the city used to be – and how quickly it has grown. Standing outside the Royal Geographical Society, this mile-post shows London (Hyde Park Corner, where Wellington famously lived at No1 London) is a mile away.

Kensington Gore SW8
Tube: South Kensington

Sand Bin

Used to keep the streets clean of manure, or deaden the sounds of iron-shod cart-wheels outside the home of the sickly, these boxes were a common fixture in the horse-drawn 19th-century. This example was restored in 1945 – some sources say after being hit by a bomb in World War II.

Temple Place WC2
Tube: Temple

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Pavement Lights

The name Haywards is well known for coal plates but the company actually made its fortune with a patent for glass prisms, fitted to an iron cover, that threw light into the back of dingy coal cellars. These covers are popular for motor-bike parking – being free as part of private premises – but any damage is irreparable.

Tabernacle Street EC1
Tube: Old Street

Wooden Block Paving

This is the last surviving wood paving in London. Wood was introduced in the Victorian era as it was quieter under iron-rimmed wagon wheels, and much safer for horses (again, iron-shod) than stone or tar, especially on hills. However, it was harder to keep clean, absorbed smells – and needed great skill to lay.

Chequer Street EC1
Tube: Old Street

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