Antiques & Collectables - Telephone Boxes
Would you like an original telephone box?
Apparently, these are now all the rage. BT, having sold off all the telephone boxes, are now actually buying them back again in a restored state and installing them into key sites around the country - notably in Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus and the Houses of Parliament. It sounds rather strange buying back your own goods!
Various companies specialise in the refurbishment and reinstallation of these kiosks. With some weighing almost ¾ tonne you will need a hefty footing on which to place your box and a reasonably hefty bank balance to pay for it.
The first production of cast iron kiosks was introduced in 1926, designed by Giles Gilbert Scott at the request of the Post Office in collaboration with the Royal Fine Arts Commission, known as the model "K2". This was deemed to be expensive to make for siting other than inside London and at the present time less than 300 of this model remain on our streets, almost exclusively in London. All of them listed as Grade 2 buildings. Certain dealers have a few of these for sale but they are rationed to museums and local authorities only.
There is nothing more British than red telephone boxes. They have been a landmark on our streets since the 1920's. One of the early models designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott was the Jubilee box made to commemorative the Silver Jubilee of George V in 1935. The majority of the boxes were made of cast iron but the door was wood and made of teak.
If you require one of these ("K6"), complete with jubilee interior, the cost would be £4,805 or, in an unrestored state, £850. The "K2" first introduced in 1926 is such a rare commodity that I am unable to give an estimate of the likely price.
Many other versions of the telephone box graced our streets, very occasionally painted in colours other than the official red (ie green and blue) and overseas you may still see English telephone boxes painted in the designated colour for that particular country.
In 1968, Bruce Martin designed a new age of kiosk, the "K8". It was meant to capture the mood of the "swinging sixties", incorporating cast iron and aluminium. The main difference between this and the previous examples was the large single panes of glass as opposed to the 72 panes per kiosk of the K6, making it easier to clean and maintain. A restored version of the "K8" could be obtained for £1600 or £750 unrestored.
In the 1980's, we saw a change of colour when BT was separated from the Post Office and the bright yellow telephone kiosk was borne. After that, the "KX100", designed by BT and introduced in 1985 was more spacious and vandal resistant. This one incorporated access for the disabled and gave greater visibility and ventilation.
There are companies who can supply all the component parts to restore your own kiosk from a strap for restraining the door costing £8.75 to the cast panels for the "K6" at a cost of £350. Even a set of cast metal crowns for £68.09.
So, if you have a telephone box at the bottom of your garden and would like to have it put back into first class condition, all the parts necessary can be purchased. Or, for that added status symbol at the front of the house, why not have your own personal telephone box, fully restored and working. The ultimate in one-upmanship - complete with "Button B"!
My thanks to : Unicorn Kiosk Restorations
PO Box 866
© Mike Hicks February 2003