The Story of Kiosk KX100
In 1985 the recently privatised British Telecom announced a £160 million modernisation scheme for the public telephone network inherited from the General Post Office. The first, the KX100, was the most commonly installed variant of a new series of kiosks. The KX kiosks were introduced at a rate of 5,000 a year with the BT network reaching 137,000 kiosks by 1999. Yet even the number of these kiosks has reduced with the rise in mobile handset ownership.
The KX100 kiosk is of light-weight construction and uses an aluminum frame clad in stainless steel panels with anodised aluminium edging. Its general form is a four-sided rectangular box with a flat roof. Except for the back panel, which is formed of stainless steel panels, the three other sides of the kiosk make extensive use of glass with two large window panels set above and beneath a slim, black plastic modesty panel, with black plastic trim around the windows. With the exception of the back panel, the sides of the kiosk stop short of the ground to provide ventilation. The door of the kiosk features a bright-coloured moulded plastic panel and handle. Originally this was bright yellow on the first KX100 kiosks, while 'Phonecard' versions of the KX100 featured a bright green version. By 1991, BT introduced their new 'Piper' logo, which introduced a red moulded handle, a colour still in use today. The upper glass window panels carry the BT logo. With the first KX100s this was a yellow dotted 'T' logo, which was used until the BT 'Piper' logo was introduced from 1991 until 2003 (as shown above). The early KX100 kiosks had smoked glass panels, but later kiosks were fitted with clear glass.
In 1984 control of the public telephone network was assumed by the newly privatised British Telecom. The network inherited from the General Post Office (GPO) included K1 and K2 kiosks dating back to the 1920s. The most recent kiosk was the K8, first installed in 1968. Within a year British Telecom announced a £160 million payphone investment programme for the network. This promised to modernise the network with a series of new kiosks, prefixed with the letters 'KX'. There were four variants, the 100, 200, 300 and 400. The new kiosks were designed to be easier to maintain, to keep clean, and stronger to protect against vandalism. The first KX-kiosks were installed in Leicester Square in central London, and it was the KX100 that was the most widely installed variant. The kiosks were installed in new locations, but significantly British Telecom replaced the majority of GPO kiosks, with only 2,000 GPO kiosks receiving listed status, and therefore protected from being removed. However, the network has faced an increasing threat from mobile handsets. As the number of handsets used by the British public has increased, so the usage of the public telephone network has declined. Today, the number of KX-variant kiosks has roughly halved and continues to decline.
Between 1984 and 1996 80,000 KX kiosks were introduced, initially at a rate of 5,000 a year. By 1999 the combined assets of GPO kiosks and KX-variants totalled 137,000 examples. No KX100 kiosks are listed; they are too recent to warrant listing. Unless exceptionally significant, structures aren't considered for listing if they are less than 30 years old. However, they must be architecturally significant and, at this present time, the KX-variants do not meet this criteria. There are approximately 40,000 surviving KX-variant kiosks.