The Story of Kiosk No 6 'Hull Corporation'
The city of Hull is unique in the United Kingdom; it was the only part of the country never to have a red telephone box. In 1914 the then Hull Corporation purchased the city's telephone network, whereas in the rest of the country the public telephone box network was taken over by the Post Office (and now British Telecom). Instead Hull painted its kiosks a cream colour and unlike its Post Office cousins, the kiosks didn't have the Royal crown above their 'Telephone' sign.
The Hull Corporation Telephone Department K6 kiosk adopts the same overall design as its Post Office cousin. Constructed of cast-iron sections bolted together the kiosk is a four-sided rectangular box with a domed roof. Three sides of the kiosk are glazed, with eight rows of three panes of glass; a wide central pane of glass and two outer, narrow panes. The most noticeable difference to the Post Office K6 is its cream colour scheme, in place of the Post Office red colour used in the rest of the country. Closer inspection shows the absence of a moulded Royal crown. On Post Office variants there is a crown above the illuminated rectangular signage slot. The signage too differs. The Hull Corporation K6 has a sans-serif font compared to the serif font on Post Office variants (respectively "Telephone" and "Telephone"). The rest of the kiosk is identical. It has the same moulded surrounds on each side and a teak door with stainless steel cupped door handle. The example illustrated is a Mark II kiosk introduced from 1939. These kiosks can be distinguished from a Mark I kiosk by their offset cable entry points at the rear.
In 1884 public telephone kiosks were introduced to British streets following a decision by the Postmaster General. Many individual companies were established, however by the 1910s there was a main, dominant company, the National Telephone Company (NTC), which had consumed the majority of the smaller companies. However, the Government of the time decided not to extend their licence, with their assets transferred to the General Post Office. The city of Hull was an exception - under the 1899 Telegraph Act local authorities were able to establish their own telephone networks. With the Post Office taking over from the NTC Hull Corporation stepped in to purchase the NTC's assets for £192,423, a figure equivalent to over £20 million in today's money. The company operated its own exchanges and public telephone network. Over time, the Hull Corporation Telephone Department extended its network across the city, mainly with K6 kiosks. Its cream coloured kiosks have become an icon in the city, part of the city's identity. In addition to its cream K6s the city has a small number of rare cream K8 kiosks. The network is no longer owned by the city, it divested itself of this finally by 2007 and it is operated as a private company trading as KCOM.
Hull Corporation's telephone system extended to the Hull area only and therefore its network of public telephone kiosks was limited compared to the Post Office (and later British Telecom). The number of kiosks (across all types) has fallen from over 1,000 to 297 kiosks as of 2017. Of these approximately 125 are K6 kiosks. These represent a unique variant of the Giles Gilbert Scott, without the Royal Crown, and can only be seen in the city of Hull. Such is their significance to the city, for the 2017 City of Culture festival eight K6s were reinstalled in the city centre, replacing modern kiosks.
- Chrystal, Paul (2017) Hull in 50 Buildings Stroud: Amberley Publishing
- Hull Civic Society (2017) Cream of city's iconic phone boxes Hull: https://issuu.com/humberbusiness/docs/heritage_open_days_2017
- Lincs FM Group and Aiir (2017) Hull phone boxes ringing with "message from future" Hull: http://www.kcfm.co.uk/news/local-news/hull-phone-boxes-ringing-with-message-from-future/
- Valuation Office Agency (1995) Section 1035: Public Telephone and Interactive Kiosks (including AA/RAC Kiosks) London: http://app.voa.gov.uk/corporate/publications/Manuals/RatingManual/RatingManualVolume5/sect1035/b-rat-man-vol5-s1035.html