Cable-binded telephone booth on a blue-white gradient.
[No 1 Connection] – Masha Bo
Go into many a kitchen around the world and on the fridge will be a kitsch magnet or postcard of a red telephone box. For decades, this has been the symbol of London and in fact the whole of Great Britain. A glorious red, iron beacon of tradition. A symbol of communication and of manufacturing prowess. An analogy of the empire, perhaps. A design icon.
The original telephone box, the K1 or Kiosk No1, first appeared on British streets in May 1921. And there are only 2 left on our streets; one on Trinity Square, Kingston upon Hull and the other in Bembridge on the Isle of Wight. They are Grade II listed by Historic England. But the iconic red telephone box that is recognised the world over was initially designed by Giles Gilbert Scott after winning a design competition in 1924. The K2 (as it is officially called) was already destined for a timely demise. Maybe because he modelled it on Sir John Sloane’s 1815 mausoleum for his deceased wife.
But where was the first telephone box? The K2 was only ever designed to be used in London. It first stood tall like a Queen’s Guard, stable and immovable on the streets of London in 1926. The main problem was that the cost of making them was prohibitive for use across the country (nothing seems to change there). So, the post office commissioned Scott to design the K6 in 1935, to celebrate the Jubilee of King George V. 19,000 red monoliths were forged in various foundries across Scotland. Giving them some real heart. ‘Made from girders’ could have been coined for them.