Telephone Box – Giltspur Street

Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson first met at Bart’s in A Study in Scarlett.

This phone box is another tribute to the famous detectives and it is often bedecked with tributes to Sherlock Holmes.

In the last series of the BBC’s Sherlock, the hero fell to his apparent death from the roof of the hospital. Although the final scene revealed that trickery was afoot, it hasn’t stopped fans of the sleuth leaving personal messages here.

Although most of the notes are tongue-in-cheek, an informal shrine at this site is a wonderful idea, and very much in keeping with the long tradition of pretending Holmes is a real man, rather than a fiction.

This K2 kiosk was one of Britain’s first red Telephone Boxes. It was the winning design from a 1924 competition organised by The Royal Fine Art Commission to find a design for a national phone box.

Designed by British architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, who was also famous for

  • Liverpool Cathedral
  • Charterhouse School Chapel, the biggest War Memorial in the UK
  • Waterloo Bridge
  • Battersea Power Station

The first K2 kiosks were installed in Kensington and Holborn in central London in 1926 and over the next nine years some 1,700 examples were installed mostly in London.

The design of the K2 features many influences of classical architecture.

It is constructed of cast-iron sections bolted together, standing on a concrete base.

It is a four-sided rectangular box with a domed roof formed by segmental pediments, with reeded mouldings.

The pediments carry a pierced Tudor crown for ventilation.

On three sides of the kiosk, are six rows of three small rectangular panes of glass; the equivalent back panel is blank.

There is reeded moulding around the window panel corresponding to the dimensions of the door opening, disguising that there is an opening on one side only.

The door is of teak, with a metal “cup” handle. For weatherproofing there is a drip cap above the door. The roof of the kiosk is domed,

Giles Gilbert Scott originally proposed that the K2 be painted silver, with a blue-green interior. However, the General Post Office chose red to make them easy to spot.

Just over 200 examples of the K2 remain on British streets and English Heritage has given Grade II listing status to these.

Despite a reduction in their numbers in recent years, the traditional British red telephone kiosk can still be seen in many places throughout the UK, and in current or former British colonies around the world such as  Malta, Bermuda and Gibraltar.

In 2006 the K2 telephone box was voted one of Britain’s top 10 design icons, which included

  • the Mini,
  • Supermarine Spitfire, 
  • Harry Beck’s London Tube Map
  • The World Wide Web,
  •  Concorde,
  • and the AEC Routemaster

Due to a cost of £35 14s 0d per kiosk, a limited the number of boxes were installed, in addition, the K2 was a large kiosk and so was not only expensive to produce, but costly to transport. The General Post Office looked again to Scott for a kiosk with the strengths of the K2, but a more cost-effective design that could be installed nationwide.

Of the eight kiosk types introduced by the General Post Office, the K2 was the fifth-most populous type introduced, but the second-most populous type in terms of surviving kiosks. The most popular is the K6, which has a different window configuration so that people walking by can see who is inside the box.

Although production of the traditional boxes ended with the advent of the KX series in 1985, many still stand in Britain.

One of the most interesting I found on my trip to Settle. Which is described as possibly the smallest Art Gallery in the World.

SJG-B July 2017

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