The Story of Kiosk KX100 Plus

Summary

BT was formed following the break-up of the GPO to form the Post Office and British Telecommunications and was privatised in 1984. The new company began a modernisation programme for the public telephone network and introduced a new modern kiosk, the KX100. However, amongst the general public many found it lacked the character of earlier kiosks, such as the K6. In 1996 BT introduced a revised version, the KX100+, with over 5,000 examples installed.

Design

The KX100 Plus kiosk is largely based on the design of the KX100 kiosk, although the KX100 Plus is slightly taller. The KX100 Plus utilises the same light-weight construction as the KX100. It has an aluminum frame and is clad in stainless steel panels with anodised aluminium edging. The door and sides are glazed, with a coloured mid-section trim panel and matching trim panel at the top. The sides and door of the kiosk stop short of the ground to provide ventilation. The door of the kiosk features a large, brightly-coloured moulded plastic grab handle. In a nod to earlier GPO kiosks and following feedback on the design of the KX100, the KX100 Plus features a domed, plastic roof. The earliest KX100 Plus kiosks carried signage on the door and side lintels, and on the domed roof. Inside the kiosks have a large illuminated display panel. The KX100 Plus was initially introduced with red trim panels and a red-domed roof. Red was chosen for its high visibility, but also recalled the red colour of the GPO kiosks. Later, British Telecom introduced KX100 Plus kiosks with internet connectivity. These were in a distinctive blue colour to distinguish them from kiosks with standard telephone equipment.

History

Within a year following the privitisation of British Telecom the company announced a £160 million payphone investment programme for the public telephone network. The company had inherited a network totally some 80,000 kiosks. The majority were K6 kiosks and the most recent kiosks were the K8 kiosk, but they were first introduced in 1968. British Telecom decided it wanted a modern kiosk, citing that a new kiosk would be easier to keep clean and to maintain. The company expanded the telephone network with its new KX100 kiosk, but also began replacing the existing GPO kiosks. There was a strong reaction from many members of the general public to this scheme, with many disapproving of the removal of the GPO kiosks. Also, there was not a universally favourable reaction to the design of the KX100. In 1996, the design of the KX100 was revisited to improve its appeal and add some character. The revised KX100 Plus re-used the same aluminium frame of the KX100 but incorporated elements of the design of earlier kiosks, most notably the domed roof and red colour scheme. By the following year, some 5,000 examples had been introduced. A number of earlier KX100s were retrofitted with the domed-roof of the KX100 Plus.

Heritage legacy

The KX100 Plus is the latest design of kiosk introduced in Britain. Despite being the newest kiosk to be installed its design deliberately recalls earlier kiosks with its domed roof and is somewhat of a design compromise. This was a consequence of a less than favourable reaction to its predecessor, the KX100. Some 5,000 examples have been introduced, but these kiosks are too recent to warrant heritage listing. Unless exceptionally significant, structures aren't considered for listing if they are less than 30 years old.

Sources

  • British Telecom (2013) Events in Telecommunications History: 1996 London: http://www.btplc.com/Thegroup/BTsHistory/1984onwards/1996.htm
  • Connected Earth (2013) Kiosk London: http://www.connected-earth.com/thecollection/artefacts/image.cfm?imageid=KC_K12

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