In celebration of the K8 telephone kiosk – Britain’s last red, cast-iron phonebox

Linge, N ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4318-8782, Sutton, A, Hurley, A and Johannessen, N 2020, 'In celebration of the K8 telephone kiosk – Britain’s last red, cast-iron phonebox' , Industrial Archaeology Review . (In Press)

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Abstract

Whilst every country in the world has introduced phoneboxes onto its streets, the UK stands alone in having adopted the red phonebox as a symbol of its national identity. However, that symbol is of phonebox designs produced by Giles Gilbert Scott in 1925/35 and not of the more contemporary ones that followed it. When introduced in 1968, the Bruce Martin designed K8 kiosk or phonebox, was hailed as a masterpiece of industrial design yet, today it has virtually disappeared and been forgotten. It was the last of the British red, cast-iron phoneboxes and despite over 11,000 being manufactured, less than one percent survive. This paper traces the evolution of the British phonebox, focusing on the circumstances that led to the development of the K8 and describes in detail its design. Particular attention is then given to the post-privatisation period when British Telecom embarked on a phonebox modernisation programme that sought to replace all of its old red phoneboxes. Important lessons for industrial archaeology can be learned from this period for whilst attention was directed towards saving the Giles Gilbert Scott designs, the newer K8 was ignored and consequently subjected to wholesale removal. As threats emerged, they were neither recognised nor combatted and the formal mechanisms for preservation weren’t fit for purpose. Telecommunications is a rapidly changing field that brings enormous challenges for the heritage movement, as the K8 story illustrates, requiring a far more agile approach in respect of contemporary collecting policies and improved procedures for protection and preservation. As part of industrial archaeology, the British phonebox is important both in terms of its contribution to design and its impact on society. Within that context this paper considers in detail a forgotten aspect of phonebox evolution, namely that of the K8 kiosk and includes a detailed listing of those K8s which are known to have survived.

Item Type: Article
Schools: Schools > School of Computing, Science and Engineering > Salford Innovation Research Centre
Journal or Publication Title: Industrial Archaeology Review
Publisher: Taylor and Francis/ Association for Industrial Archaeology (AIA)
ISSN: 0309-0728
Related URLs:
Depositing User: N Linge
Date Deposited: 19 Aug 2020 12:47
Last Modified: 19 Aug 2020 14:13
URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/57962

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