If you are ever in Parliament Square in London, take a moment to watch the crowds of tourists taking photographs. Along with the historic buildings lining the square, including the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey, one of the smallest structures receives equal attention from those photographers. Dwarfed by the Government Offices on Great George Street stand half-a-dozen red Telephone Boxes and, more often that not, tourists pause to have their pictures taken standing alongside or inside one of these kiosks. If the tourists visit one of the many souvenir shops in London they will see all manner of Telephone Box gifts and trinkets, from postcards to fridge magnets, and key-rings to money boxes.
What these tourists might not recognise is the historic and cultural significance of the Telephone Box, nor may they notice that just within this small group of kiosks there are two different designs. In fact there were eight kiosk variants introduced between 1921 and 1968, when the public telephone network was part of the General Post Office. Such was the importance of the telephone network that a number of national competitions were formed to invite designs from some of Britain's leading architects and designers of the time.
The Telephone Box has become an icon of British design, alongside the black taxi and the Routemaster bus. It is part of this nation's heritage and identity. But despite this, with the development of modern mobile technologies and increased ownership of smartphone handsets, the red Telephone Box is under threat, with numbers declining. From a peak of over 70,000 in the 1980s, today there only 11,000 red telephone kiosks surviving in public service.
Giles Gilbert Scott
The K3 kiosk was introduced in 1929. It was intended for use nationwide, whereas the K2 kiosk was limited to London due its cost and size. The K3 was designed by British architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, who also designed the K2 in 1924. Some 12,000 examples were installed by 1935. The design of the K3 was an evolution of Scott's K2 design, but with less classical architectural styling.... Read more »
This website tell the story of the Telephone, with profiles of the different kiosks, a timeline, facts and figures, and photographs.