The Red K6 Phone Box
For over 50 years a traditional red telephone box was
situated in the very centre of Hampstead Norreys. Sadly, this was removed during the 1980's and replaced with
a modern kiosk. The new box was very high profile, being situated next to the Grade II listed Parish Well and
it was always considered rather incongruous and out of place; especially if consideration was given to the
fact that the centre of the village consistes largely of very old and interesting houses, cottages and
The Hampstead Norreys Heritage Group were
keen that certain aspects of village life be retained and conserved and it was with this in mind that they
undertook the project of negotiating the reinstatement of a traditional red kiosk, thereby restoring a piece of
village heritage which had been lost. With the advent of the mobile phone, BT are removing many of the familiar red
kiosks from our towns and villages and the genuine concern was that in years to come this interesting piece of
British History would become a rare feature in our landscape.
Before negotiations with BT commenced in 2007, the group felt it was important to
establish the type and style of the original kiosk. After extensive research and a ‘fact finding mission’, it was
confirmed that the box had been a model known as the ‘K6’.
Very long and protracted discussions were then embarked upon with BT and numerous
requests were often met, frustratingly, with refusals and delays. It was not BT’s policy to reinstate telephone
kiosks and the reinstatement of a kiosk, with a working telephone, had never been allowed. It took much
perseverance and tenacity, with the request being eventually discussed at Board level within BT, before we were
rewarded with the delightful news, in July 2008, that our request had been granted and the village could buy a box
and BT would install a working telephone.
pains-taking research into the renovation and supply of a replacement K6 took many months but resuted in an order
being placed with a small company in Lincolnshire. This turned out to be an extremely good choice as the company
gave tremendous support, help and advice throughout. The timetable was strictly adhered to and they liased directly
with BT over the siting, orientation and deklivery of the K6 kiosk.
renovation is a very long and time consuming process with much care being taken to preserve the original
First the kiosk is stripped
and all the remaining glass
and fittings are removed
until all that remains is
a cast iron shell
The shell is then sand blasted back to bare metal so it resembles the condition
it was in when it first came out of the faundry
After being de-greased, the K6 is
painted with re oxide primer followed by at
least 3 coats of red
Seventy two panes of 6.5mm safety
glass are used to re-glaze the kiosk, including the push / pull
Safety glass is also used for the four hand-screen printed "TELEHONE" signs at
the top of the box.
piece of restoration is the "Crown", which adorms the traditional kiosks. These are the finishing touches and
depict the era in which the box was originally made, i.e. George VI
or Elizabeth II.
Crown before renovation
Crown after sandblasting
Crown fully renovated
On the 26th November 2009 BT finally began
the dismantling and removal of the grey plastic box in readiness for the installation of our new
A new plinth had to be laid of a
construction which could withstand the new kiosk’s 750kg weight. These works were kindly donated to the
project by a group of anonymous well-wishers who, although not living in the village, felt that it was
such worthwhile project and a tremendous asset to the village they were pleased to contribute their
On the 10th December 2009 the long awaited day arrived when
our new kiosk was due to be delivered. It was a truly momentous moment when the flat-bed truck was sighted
carrying its unusual load. It received a warm and rapturous welcome from the good number of residents who braved a
chilly morning to welcome it back to the village.
Then came the mammoth task of hoisting the K6 kiosk into
its new home. Within minutes the area, by the Well and Gardens, was transformed with the return of a familiar
The amount of
media interest the return of the K6 generated was overwhelming with it being televised on Meridian and South Today
television, live interviews on Radio 2 and Radio Berkshire and the National and Local press covering the
The final part of the project was the installation of
a telephone, which BT installed on the 15th December 2009 and finally the SEB reconnected electricity which
meant that the light within the kiosk was working - essential when you have a village without street
So much has
been lost in our rural villages over the last few years, shops, pubs and schools it is so good to have the
opportunity to put back not only a piece of heritage but a facility which can be used by the whole community and
We are very
grateful to the West Berks Council, who funded this project and to the Parish Council who have agreed to maintain
the kiosk and to pay line rental whilst the telephone is being used.
It was only after the General Post Office
took over the ever-expanding telephone network in 1912 that they decided phone boxes should have a uniform look and
in1921 the kiosk number one - or K1 telephone kiosk - was introduced.
In 1923, the GPO held a competition to design a new kiosk and designs from many
companies and architects were entered. It was not until 1926, however, that the chosen design appeared, the
Giles Gilbert Scott's K2, but unfortunately this proved too big and very expensive for mass production.
The GPO was still keen to have a new design and once again commissioned Sir Giles to
produce another design. In 1929 the K3 appeared, a smaller, concrete version of the K2, this kiosk was an
immediate success with 12,000 appearing countrywide.
The K4, nicknamed the Vermillion Giant, was intended to be a 24 hour post office with
a stamp machine and letter box added to the back but proved to be a dismal failure with only 50 being produced and
was soon withdrawn.
In 1934, a K5 was produced, made of plywood as a temporary kiosk for use at
exhibitions and fairs etc. It was only in the 1990s that the designs of this box were rediscovered and it is not
known if any originals still survive.
There were many K3s still in use but problems were beginning to occur with them, and
the GPO considered that a new cast iron box was needed. In 1936 the K6 appeared for the first time on the
streets. The kiosk was perfect, it had all the good points of the K1s and K3s mixed with the solidness of the K2
and most importantly, the small size and elegance that the GPO were looking for. The K6 was widely used and by the
end of production, there were nearly 70,000 K6s in Britain. Many areas didn't first approve of the red paint and so
were allowed to paint them in alternative colour schemes. Ironically it is now the iconic ‘red’ which has
become the familiar symbol associated with our heritage kiosks.
The K7 - planned in 1959 – was designed by Neville Condor. It was an innovative
design in its use of materials and six prototypes were produced in aluminum. It was eventually produced 1962;
however the British climate caused discolouration and staining of the aluminum so the design didn't prove
successful and very few were introduced onto the streets of Britain.
The K8 was introduced by the British Post Office in July 1968. Two designers, Douglas
Scott and Bruce Martin, had been commissioned in 1965 to produce designs for a new kiosk. The chosen design had to
incorporate the best features of previous designs and be suitable for both urban and rural surroundings.
Bruce Martin's design was eventually selected and when introduced had been produced
in just over one year, the shortest time then taken to create a new kiosk. It was made from cast iron and
contained full length toughened glass, and became the successor to Kiosk No. 6 (the K6).