K6 Telephone Box

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The telephone box situated in The Glebe is a Grade II listed structure, Listing NGR: SS9554442076
The box was designed in 1935 by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and is a cast iron, square kiosk, with a domed roof, unperforated crowns to the top panels and margin glazing to windows and door. The colour red was chosen to make them easy to spot.

Sir Giles Gilbert Scott was an English architect known for his work on the Cambridge University Library, Lady Margaret Hall, Battersea Power Station and Liverpool Cathedral.

The K6 (kiosk number six) was designed in 1935 to commemorate the silver jubilee of King George V. It was consequently sometimes known as the “Jubilee” kiosk. It went into production in 1936. The K6 was the first red telephone kiosk to be extensively used outside London, and many thousands were deployed in virtually every town and city, replacing most of the existing kiosks and establishing thousands of new sites. In 1935 there had been 19,000 public telephones in the UK but by 1940, thanks to the K6, there were 35,000.

The design of the K6, by Scott, was essentially a smaller and more streamlined version, intended to be produced at a considerably cheaper cost, and to occupy less pavement space. The statistics of the box are:

  • Size – 8 feet 3 inches (2.51 m) tall and weight 13.5 cwt (0.69 tonnes).
  • Elements of the design were simplified and streamlined from previous versions, in keeping with the “moderne” aesthetics of the 1930s. The Grecian fluting was removed from the door and window surrounds, and the previously separate pediment and frieze were merged.
  • The Crown motif, which had previously been pierced through the ironwork to give ventilation, was now embossed in bas-relief. A new, separate ventilation slot was provided.
  • A new glazing pattern was introduced. In the K6 the number of rows was increased to 8, and the central column of panes was made considerably wider than those to either side. This improved visibility, and gave a more horizontal appearance to the windows, again in keeping with “moderne” principles.

The K6 has since become a British icon, but it was not universally loved at the start. The red colour caused particular local difficulties and there were many requests for less visible colours. Any kiosks in pre-1968 settings should be painted in shade BS381C-Red538.

Little-used red telephone boxes can be adopted by parish councils in England for other uses. The kiosk may be used for any legal purpose other than telephony and the contract of sale includes the following clause 5.5.4:

“The buyer shall covenant not to sell, lease or license the Goods to a competitor to the Seller nor to permit a competitor to install electronic communications apparatus (as defined in schedule 2 of the Telecommunications Act 1984) within the Goods or itself (as the Buyer) shall not install, provide or operate any form of electronic communications apparatus (as defined in schedule 2 of the Telecommunications Act 1984) within the Goods.”

Our Timberscombe kiosk was adopted by the Parish Council in 2017 to accommodate the village defibrillator.

Information summarised from Wikipedia to see the full page go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_telephone_box