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and very rarely ever needs repairs, once you fix them." - Dan/Panther

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K6 & other GPO Telephone Boxes

Started by david@london, April 26, 2012, 02:54:29 PM

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I picked up a couple of contribution pictures for this topic over the last 7 weeks.

The first is at the old Dockyards at St. john on the Caribbean island of Antigua.

The 2nd, 3rd and 4th are at Stanley, the capital city of the Falkland Islands off the east coast of Argentina and yes, I know that I shouldn't be mentioning the Falkland Islands in the same sentence along with Argentina!

Notice the apparent change in weather between these two locations!

Does anyone know if two of these phone boxes with the solid area around the door handle indicates a different model? The island seemed to have a mixture of these two types.



Just don't drive a Porsche 924 with a registration plate of H982 FKL on it through argentina... ;D


Seeing as how the "Brits" are weighing in on this, here is a bonus shot for you from Barbados!

I always liked the straight forward name "Cable and Wireless". I don't know if they were originally a part of the Post Office Telephones or part of another government department or maybe always independent. I see them as the company that tied the commonwealth countries together via telephone and telegraph thus Cable & Wireless was how they did it. Presumably they just provided the connection to the rest of the world for some of the smaller colonies telephone systems while maybe they provided complete phone systems in other countries. I worked with a guy in Saudi Arabia for awhile in 1985 who had previously worked for Cable &'Wireless on Seychelles.

Now I will head to wiki and see what else I need to know about them.

<edit> Okay, I'm back. I got it fairly close. I also saw "LIME" in many Caribbean islands and elsewhere and they are related as well. Here is the wiki info:



Yep, Cable & Wireless did a lot of telephony here in the UK, but mostly associated with cable TV, I have a C&W CTE5 master socket somewhere, they took over a lot of the Nynex-owned cable networks here, then NTL took over C&W's cable networks, then they merged with Telewest, and then they both got swallowed up by VirginMedia... :)


Has the use of public telephones fallen off as badly in other countries as has been in the United States?
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
— Arthur C. Clarke


It depends on the country some countries like Finland, and Estonia have NO public telephones left.  Some like Sweden and Belgium will be without public telephones by the end of this year.  Some like Holland have removed most but kept some where there is enough usage and or advertising on the kiosks.  However one exception to this trend is in Cuba which limits access to cell phones so payphones are still used there and I think there even installing more.  One other thing to remember is that In most countries the ILEC still operates at least some of the payphones unlike the United States where in most areas all you can find today are Cocots.
I collect payphones :)


terry -

those are some great holiday really do get around on those cruises.
i don't think i've seen a k6 before with those filled-in panels.

just found this that's how you install one !


Bruce Martin, architect - obituary
Architect whose modernist designs for the K8 telephone box were commissioned by Tony Benn.

Bruce Martin, who has died aged 97, was the architect responsible for the K8 – the last of the cast-iron red telephone boxes commissioned by the General Post Office; launched in 1968, it was hailed as a masterpiece of industrial design.
In 1965 Martin was one of three architects invited by the GPO to submit proposals for a new public telephone kiosk. This would carry forward the lineage established in the 1920s by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott's 1926 K2 and his 1936 K6, or "Jubilee" kiosk, but update it for the modernist tastes of the 1960s. A previous design by Neville Conder, the K7, had been scrapped after it proved unable to stand up to the British weather.
After analysing the Gilbert Scott design, Martin embarked on a careful rationalisation of the K6. To make it easier to assemble and maintain, he reduced the number of components required from 450 pieces (without fixings) to just 183 including every single screw and nut, and did away with Scott's classically ordered small panes and glazing bars, replacing them with sheets of toughened glass which made the kiosk, from the sides at least, completely see-through and (with higher levels of illumination inside) less likely to be vandalised.
Gilbert Scott's domed roof was replaced with a much flatter design. Instead of requiring factory assembly, the K8 could be put together on site and configured in a variety of different ways, such as switching the swing of the door to suit the surroundings.
In 1966 the Postmaster General of the time, Tony Benn, chose Martin's design over that of his rival Douglas Scott (the third contender having dropped out). However, in response to GPO concerns about rigidity and cost, Martin changed the materials involved from aluminium and fibreglass to cast iron, except for the door which remained aluminium for ease of opening. The K8 also saw a slight change of hue from "Post Office Red" to the slightly more orangey "Poppy Red".
Some 11,000 K8 kiosks were manufactured during the late Sixties and Seventies and, with a projected life span of 50 years, they should probably have become the modern equivalent of the much-loved K6. But when BT began decommissioning boxes in 1984 the K8s were first in the firing line. A nationwide campaign saw 3,000 red telephone boxes listed following a public outcry over BT's plans, but they were mostly of the classic K6 type. At the time the K8s fell foul of the rule that buildings less than 30 years old cannot be protected.
In 2007, however, when it was reported that the number of working K8s had fallen to around a dozen (though more have been discovered since), the Twentieth Century Society launched a campaign to have the remaining boxes listed. Since then some 10 of the boxes have been given Grade II status by English Heritage.
Bruce Martin was born in Clapham, south London, on December 20 1917 to a French mother and an English father, an electrical and mechanical engineer who worked for the Admiralty. He was brought up near Portsmouth dockyard, where he decided to become an architect....

Bruce Martin, born December 20 1917, died April 22 2015


good to see this box in suffolk is still fully functional and also has its interior illumination working....


Sir John Soane's telephone box mausoleum

London's red telephone boxes have long interested visitors, and no doubt quite a few visit Sir John Soane's mausoleum in the churchyard of Old St Pancras. The shape of the tomb was a direct influence on Giles Gilbert Scott's design for the famous phone booths.

....more information in this Guardian article.


i was very pleased yesterday to see this well maintained AA phone box at boduan in gwynedd, driving from pwllheli to porthdinllaen, north-west had to stop and take some photos.
sure enough, this box is included in the AA's list of its 19 remaining boxes.


It's always nice to see a functional piece of history.
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
— Arthur C. Clarke


thanks 19and41 -

you are so right.

.....another working phonebox here, quite a few places in north east suffolk seem to have them still.



GPO K6 street installation.
GPO wooden phone booths, 1930's. Charing Cross Station, London.
A collector of  'Monochrome Phones with Sepia Tones'   ...and a Duck!
Vintage Phones - 10% man made, 90% Tribble


Interesting to note that the K6 phonebox is decorated with one of three
different designs of Royal Crown, by which boxes can be dated as either
1936-1953 or 1955 & later.

This Wiki entry has more details:

From 1926 onwards, the fascias of Post Office kiosks were emblazoned with a prominent crown, representing the British government (of which the Post Office was an agency). The design was initially the "Tudor Crown", then in widespread use in government service. The same crown was used in all parts of the United Kingdom and British Empire. On the K2, the design was pierced through the ironwork, and acted as a ventilation hole. On the K6, a separate ventilation slot was provided, and the crown was embossed in bas-relief.

In 1953 the new Queen, Elizabeth II, decided to replace the Tudor Crown in all contexts with a representation of the actual crown generally used for British coronations, the St Edward's Crown. This new symbol therefore began to appear on the fascias of K6 kiosks.

St Edward's Crown was initially used on kiosks in all parts of the United Kingdom. However, in Scotland, following protests over the use of English insignia, the Post Office (like other government agencies there) began to use, from 1955, a representation of the actual Crown of Scotland. To accommodate the two different designs of crown on K6 kiosks, the fascia sections were henceforth cast with a slot in them, into which a plate bearing the appropriate crown was inserted before the roof section was fitted.

The crowns were originally painted the same red as the rest of the box. However, since the early 1990s, when the heritage value of red kiosks began to be widely recognised, British Telecom has picked out the crowns (on both K2s and K6s) in gold paint.

Photos:  1. Tudor Crown - 1936-53
             2. St Edward's Crown - England & Wales           
             3. St Andrew's Crown  - Scotland         
             4. Tudor Crown on K2 box