Double Ended Telephone Kiosks, a photo series

Double Ended Telephone Kiosks by 25ThC

There are only a few things left that symbolise Britain and one of them is the famous red telephone kiosk.

When I was a teenager, before mobile phones and the internet were born, if you wished to call someone you had to either use your parents’ phone or else find one of these brightly coloured kiosks and a 10 pence piece to make your call. You sometimes even used them as meeting points (as they were so distinctive), or for people to call you at if you weren’t at home. Hence they hold a special place in my heart and I love the design.

Combining this with my love of film photography and double exposures, I started a series called “double ended telephone kiosks”. Each time I see one of these icons I take its photo, but not in the standard way. All the images were taken using a film camera and the technique is simple: I take one shot of the kiosk, rotate the camera 180 degrees and then take a second shot creating a double exposure and some unique images.

I also started looking into their background and here is a very brief history. The one we all know and love was first introduced in 1926 as K2 (Kiosk No.2) designed by Giles Gilbert Scott. Before that the post office produced K1 in concrete in 1920 but this design was not of the same family as the familiar red telephone boxes. Interestingly, Scott had suggested that it be coloured silver, with a “greeny-blue” interior. Unfortunately we will never know whether it would have had the same long lasting impact had they gone for silver instead of red. There then followed successive generations of the kiosk with alterations including its height and the crown depicted at the top. The last version was the K8 introduced in 1968 and of which only 12 remain largely due to being vulnerable to damage due to their large glass panels.

British Telecom (BT) was privatized in 1984 and the KX100, a more utilitarian design, began to replace most of the existing boxes. Some 2000 boxes were given listed status and several thousand others were left on low-revenue mostly rural sites but many thousands of recovered K2 and K6 boxes were sold off. These now find themselves in far flung places around the globe and have been given new life as shower cubicles, a work of art resembling a row of fallen dominoes and into a book exchange.

To see more of 25ThC’s images, check out his Flickr page