Feeds

Britain's iconic red phonebox turns 75

Calls for a celebration?

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

The most recognisable form of Britain's much-loved red telephone kiosk celebrates its 75th anniversary this year.

Designed by English architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, the British phonebox went through a number of tweaks in the 1920s and early 1930s, before the K6 model was introduced to commemorate the silver jubilee of King George V in 1936.

It was soon installed extensively outside of London in every town or village with a post office, starting with 8000 installations in the first year. By the end of production, in 1968, nearly 70,000 had been put in place throughout the country.

Red telephone boxes

K6 sits next to its bigger brother, the K2, in St John's Wood, London
Source: Oxyman/Wikipedia

The cast-iron K6 thrived far past its anticipated discontinuation date, and it wasn't until the 1980s that the booths faced replacement by the more modern KX series. Many of the old K6s were removed and sold at auction before the Department of the Environment and English Heritage stepped in and pushed to preserve in situ particular kiosks with historic relevance.

It was even suggested Doctor Who might trade in his Police Box for the by then more recognisable red callbox.

By the 1990s, BT had taken note of the nostalgia-obsessed British public's fondness for the ageing red boxes. It stopped replacing them and registered their design as a trademark.

Nowadays, the K6 still represents roughly 20 per cent of Britain's phone boxes. Payphone use has plunged by more than 80 per cent in the last five years, BT admits, and the majority of phonebooths lose the telco money, it claims.

That has meant ever more boxes being decommissioned. But instead of simply removing the boxes - which weigh three quarters of a ton each - BT has been selling decommissioned booths to the community for a quid a pop, under its Adopt a Kiosk scheme. This has seen villagers use booths for all sorts of functions, such as art exhibitions and local libraries.

To commemorate the anniversary, BT has donated a K6 kiosk to the Design Museum for permanent display - hopefully one in better nick than those pictured above. It's set to feature in the museum's exhibition This is Design, which kicks off today.

With 11,000 K6 models still scatted throughout the country, everyone knows you don't need to go to a museum to stand in one. However, Londoners may find it's the only phonebooth in the city that hasn't been put into service as a urinal or to advertise the amatory services of ladies of ill repute.

Happy birthday, K6. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Crouching tiger, FAST ASLEEP dragon: Smugglers can't shift iPhone 6s
China's grey market reports 'sluggish' sales of Apple mobe
Sea-Me-We 5 construction starts
New sub cable to go live 2016
EE coughs to BROKEN data usage metrics BLUNDER that short-changes customers
Carrier apologises for 'inflated' measurements cockup
Comcast: Help, help, FCC. Netflix and pals are EXTORTIONISTS
The others guys are being mean so therefore ... monopoly all good, yeah?
Surprise: if you work from home you need the Internet
Buffer-rage sends Aussies out to experience road rage
EE buys 58 Phones 4u stores for £2.5m after picking over carcass
Operator says it will safeguard 359 jobs, plans lick of paint
MOST iPhone strokers SPURN iOS 8: iOS 7 'un-updatening' in 5...4...
Guess they don't like our battery-draining update?
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.