If you look carefully inside a phonebox outside St Pancras station you might wonder why it has warnings about WWII and instructions about enlisting to fight for King and Country.
It’s an old phone box that’s been adopted by the Building Centre and then restored back to its 1930s old origins, with replicas of the original phone inside, the original A/B payment box, phone books and posters.
It looks a bit twee with the domestic telephone sitting on the shelf, but that’s how they worked at the time. The layout inside the phonebox is known as the Jubilee Layout, as the Post Office redesigned the interior in black and chrome for the newly designed K6 phone box when it was first installed on streets in 1936.
It was later that the big metal telephone case came into use inside the phone boxes.
A tip, you can tell this is an early form of the K6 phonebox as the crown above the door is cast into the metal case. Later phoneboxes come with a crown that can be slotted into the case, and have noticeable marks for the slots.
The change took place because, in 1953, the Queen decided to change the Tudor Crown usually used for government papers with St Edward’s Crown. However, that went down very badly in Scotland as King Edward was only King of England and Wales, not Scotland. Following protests known as the Pillar Box War, in 1955 it was decided to make the crown replaceable, and in Scotland, they used the Crown of Scotland motif instead of St Edward’s Crown.
So, if you see a phonebox with slots around the crown, it’s from after 1955. The phonebox outside St Pancras hotel lacks the slots, so it’s earlier.
What’s nice about it, is not just that it’s been restored, but that it’s on a busy road that people rush past without looking around, and it’s nice to stop and peer inside to see something you might not have expected.
It’s a delightful thing to stumble upon, and to point out to your friends when walking past it.
This particular K6 telephone box was adopted by the Building Centre as part of BT’s Adopt a Kiosk scheme with the intention of returning the telephone box to the way it would have been when it was designed for King George V’s Silver Jubilee in 1935, going into production in 1936.
There’s another reason other than “why not”, as to why the Building Centre did this though, as the creator of the K6 phonebox, Sir Giles Gilbert Scott was also the first President of the Building Centre from 1940 to 1960, and this phone box sits outside the former Midland Hotel, designed by Giles Gilbert Scott’s grandfather, George Gilbert Scott.