A Letter to Giles Gilbert Scott’s K2 Telephone Box

Every Friday we’re inviting our experts and guests to share a letter to something they love linked to the post.

Dearest Kay,

I hope this letter finds you well painted in your Post Office red. I wonder what we’d make of you in early pillar box green, or indeed Olympic gold – although I expect the people of Hull are by now used to seeing your descendants liveried in uncrowned cream. I shall have to send this care of The Postal Museum, as you must be one of the few buildings to be designed without a letter box. A ‘miniature building’ as the late Gavin Stamp (with a name more suited to post box preservation) argued in order to save you from the shortcomings of conservation area reform, when you were elevated from overlooked street furniture to become one of our smallest Grade II listed buildings. I should imagine this new designation as a building would’ve surprised your architect, Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, who designed you in 1924 as nothing less.

Postman delivering mail in Mayfair, London. A K2 telephone kiosk is in the foreground, 1951 (POST 118/18114)

When I visit you in more ordinary times, I step inside and stand beneath your Soanian arches. I picture cigarette smoke curling high in your spacious interior to its pierced royal escape. I see bowler-hatted businessmen queuing to communicate news or to converse with countless caring wives, not necessarily their own, such was the new-found privacy afforded to all behind your teak door.

As children, before the service you provided could be carried in bags and pockets, we were taught how to use you in case of emergency. These days telephone boxes are more likely used to contain libraries, defibrillators or tiny offices rented by the hour.

As I pause to ponder the purpose of this letter my gaze drifts to the window and I see, some six miles away, the tower of Liverpool Cathedral. Regarded by many as your creator’s masterpiece, your diminutive K6 cousin resides inside – Scott’s smallest building housed within the walls of his largest. The scale of the cathedral is certainly impressive, but I would argue that you are the true masterpiece! A miniature masterpiece for a modern world.

When I remember my reason for writing I’ll give you a call.


Andrew Jackson

Trustee & National Coordinator

The Twentieth Century Society

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