Patented in 1876, the telephone revolutionised personal communications allowing the human voice to travel over distance. Attracted by this new technology, corporations developed networks of telephones that would criss-cross Britain.
The largest network was developed by the General Post Office, which introduced the famous red telephone box to the streets of Britain. At its height the GPO network totalled 92,000 public call boxes.
The Police Service saw how the telephone box could play its part in fighting crime and disorder, with 1000 examples installed. In 1963 the Mackenzie Trench Police Box first appeared as the TARDIS in the BBC science-fiction series Doctor Who.
Britain's pioneering motoring organisations, the Royal Autombile Club and Automobile Assocation, recognised the value of the telephone. A total of 1,300 boxes allowed patrolmen to keep in touch and members to summon assistance.
Advanced telephone technologies mean people no longer needed call boxes as their main method of making phone calls. They marked the beginning of the end for these networks. Only the GPO's network survives in use today.
Office of Engineer in Chief GPO
In 1926 the General Post Office introduced the K2 kiosk, Britain's first red Telephone Box. However the K2 was largely limited to London by General Post Office policy due its cost and size. Without a cost-effective solution for rural areas the General Post Office turned again to the K1 and set about revising the Mk 235 design more thoroughly. The revisions extended to larger windows, but the essential form... Read more »