The Story of Kiosk No 2


The K2 kiosk was Britain's first red Telephone Box. It was the winning design from a 1924 competition to find the design for a national kiosk. Designed by British architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, the K2 was introduced in 1926 and over the next nine years some 1,700 examples were installed mostly in London. The design of the K2 features many influences of classical architecture. Just over 200 examples remain on British streets and these are given Grade II listing status by English Heritage.


The K2 kiosk is constructed of cast-iron sections, bolted together, standing on a concrete base. Its general form is a four-sided rectangular box with a domed roof. Each side has fluted architrave moldings at the outer edge. At the base is a blank rectangular panel with trim molding-surround. Above, on three sides of the kiosk, are six rows of three small rectangular panes of glass, with trim moldings and internal beading; the equivalent back panel is blank. There is reeded molding around the window panel corresponding to the dimensions of the door opening, disguising that there is an opening on one side only. The door is of teak, with a metal "cup" handle. For weatherproofing there is a drip cap above the door. Above the main body of the kiosk is an entablature, set back from the face of the kiosk, finished with a crown-molded cornice. The entablature carries a rectangular slot for signage, with trim molding. Set into the slot is an illuminated telephone sign, with serif capital lettering on opaque glass. The roof of the kiosk is domed, formed by segmental pediments, with reeded moldings. The pediments carry a pierced Tudor crown for ventilation.


Following the limited success of the K1 as the General Post Office's first national kiosk, a number of separate schemes looked at finding a replacement design. This started in 1923 with, independently, the Metropolitan Boroughs Joint Standing Committee and Birmingham Civic Society looking at producing designs for a new kiosk. In 1924 the Royal Fine Art Commission united these schemes and established a new competition for a national kiosk. Designs by Sir Robert Lorimer and Sir John Burnet were dismissed and in 1925 the Commission recommended the design by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott be adopted. The first K2 kiosks were installed in Kensington and Holborn in central London in 1926. Giles Gilbert Scott originally proposed that the K2 be painted silver, with a blue-green interior. However, the General Post Office chose red. Due to cost, around £35 14s 0d per kiosk, only 1,700 examples were installed by 1934, mostly in London. In addition to its cost, the K2 was a large kiosk and so was not only expensive to produce, but costly to transport. The General Post Office looked again to Scott for a kiosk with the strengths of the K2, but a more cost-effective design that could be installed nationwide; the K3.

Heritage legacy

Between 1926 and 1935 1,700 examples of the K2 were installed. They remain a rare sight outside of London. There are 208 separate listings for the K2 kiosk with English Heritage, although a number of those listings represent multiple kiosks in a single location. The total number of surviving K2 kiosks is approximately 224 (about 13% of all K2 kiosks). Of the eight kiosk types introduced by the General Post Office, the K2 was the fifth-most populous type introduced, but the second-most populous type in terms of surviving kiosks.

« Return to previous page