The Story of Kiosk No 5
The K5 is an example of a part of our heritage that appears to have been lost forever. For a combination of reasons the K5 never entered full-scale production. It appears only a small number of sample K5 kiosks were manufactured, and no trace of these kiosks remains. There are surviving examples of seven of the eight kiosks types produced by the General Post Office, however the K5 kiosk appears destined to remain a lost part of Britain's social and telecommunications heritage.
The K5 kiosk is constructed of pre-manufactured sections, bolted together. Prototype sample kiosks were manufactured of plywood (possibly steel-faced for durability), and it is possible final production would have been in concrete. In its general form the K5 is a four-sided rectangular box with a domed roof. There are column posts at each corner, with the four sides of the kiosk set back from the edge of the columns. Windows are set into three of the four sides of the kiosk, comprising two rows of two rectangular glass panes. The window moldings are picked out in red, as is the door which features two rectangular panels with reeded moldings below the windows. The back panel of the K5 is blank. The K5 most likely would have been painted white or a cream colour. Above the main body of the kiosk is a plain entablature. The entablature carries a rectangular slot for signage, with reeded 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 plain, segmental pediments. The K5 is unlike many of the General Post Office kiosks as it has no detailing and the pediments carry no Royal crown.
Evidence of the K5 kiosk is limited to working drawings and a contemporary photograph. The photograph appear to show a kiosk of wooden construction. This has led to two schools of thought about the K5. First, the kiosk was a prototype sample with production examples being manufactured of concrete; a simple design would be much easier to execute in concrete than a more complicated design. Second, the kiosk was only ever intended to be manufactured of wood and was designed as a temporary kiosk for exhibitions and fairs as its lightweight construction made it light to transport, cheap to produce and easy to put up and take down. Certainly, the General Post Office manufactured the K1 and K3 of concrete, so it may have been that the wooden prototype kiosk preceded final production in concrete. However, a concrete kiosk would never have been used as a temporary kiosk, it would have been too heavy and fragile. A lightweight, wooden kiosk would have suited that purpose. Whatever the intended production material and use the K5 never made final production; the General Post Office was looking to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of the coronation of King George V with its first, real national kiosk: the K6.
The story of the K5 is the least understood of all General Post Office kiosks. Contemporary photographs and correspondence confirms that a number of sample kiosks were manufactured, but there is no evidence that any were commissioned. There are no known surviving, complete examples, nor any traces of any surviving parts. A modern mockup was constructed for the National Telephone Kiosk Collection at the Avoncroft Museum of Historic Buildings. The illustrations on this website are based on a 1933 photograph of a sample K5 kiosk.