The Story of Kiosk No 1 Mk 236

Summary

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 of the Mk 236 was unaltered from the two previous marques.

Design

The K1 Mk 236 is derived from the earlier Mk 235. The Mk 236 is constructed of pre-cast concrete sections bolted together, standing on a wide concrete base. Its general form is a four-sided rectangular box with a pyramidal roof. Compared to earlier marques of the K1 kiosk the sides of the Mk 236 are three quarters glazed on three sides, with four rows of two squarer windows, with flat metal frames. Although the larger windows alter the appearance of the Mk 236 its overall design bears a strong resemblence to the earlier marques; the back of the kiosk comprises two rectangular panels beneath a single larger rectangular panel, and is unchanged from the Mk 234 and 235. Above the main body of the kiosk rise a series of tiered, projecting cornices, with a shallow pyramidal roof. The Mk 235 introduced external signage atop the roof with ironwork scrolls, which is revised on the Mk 236. A was topped with a wrought ironwork spear and scrolls set above metal 'Telephone' sign on all sides. The lettering is in a similar serif style to the K2, introduced in 1926. The exterior is painted cream, with the exception of the wooden door, door frame and window frames.

History

By 1923 general dissatisfaction with the K1 Mk 235 kiosk saw the Metropolitan Boroughs Joint Standing Committee and Birmingham Civic Society, independently, look at designs for a new kiosk. By 1924 the Royal Fine Art Commission had intervened and following a competition selected the design by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott for the K2 kiosk. By 1926 the first K2 kiosks were installed in central London in Kensington and Holborn. However, due to cost - around £35 14s 0d per kiosk - the General Post Office limited installations of the K2 to London. This left them with a problem. The K2 was meant to be the new national kiosk, but it was too big and too expensive to install nationwide. There was little alternative but to revert to the K1, to provide a cheaper kiosk for use outside the capital. The Mk 235 version was revised slightly, with changes influenced by the design of the K2. This extended to a greater glazed area with larger windows, different scroll work and revised signage. By 1929 some 1,581 K1 kiosks (across all marques) had been installed in London. Nationwide, the total number of K1 kiosks was 6,300. After two years the General Post Office looked for a replacement for the Mk 236, a cheaper version of the K2 for use outside London: the K3.

Heritage legacy

The K1 kiosk is Britain's national telephone box, but it was installed more widely in rural locations than in cities. Since its first introduction in 1921 the General Post Office introduced seven additional types of kiosk, two of which can be considered direct successors to the K1. As these types were introduced they will have been installed as replacements for many older K1s. This has radically reduced the number of surviving K1 kiosks nationwide to just five examples of some 6,300 K1s introduced across all three marques.

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