Red telephone kiosks in Oxford

There are thirteen public red telephone kiosks on the streets of central Oxford (although they do not all have a functioning payphone). All except the one at Carfax are K6 square kiosks with domed roofs, designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott in 1935 and introduced as part of the Jubilee celebrations. Scott, who was a trustee of the Sir John Soane's Museum, was inspired by the design of the tomb of Sir John's wife, Eliza Soane, who died in 1815.

They were made of cast iron by various contractors, and have unperforated crowns to the top panels and margin glazing to the windows and door.

The six kiosks shown below are Grade II listed. The first three, which were listed in 1987/8, were not replaced when BT brought in its new-style telephone boxes in the 1980s, and so have never been removed from their original site. The fourth kiosk at Carfax was one of four donated to the city by Nicholas Medley in 1994, and is Scott’s earlier K2 design of 1924, a type not previously seen in the city: it was listed in 2009. The last two listed kiosks (both K6, in Market Street and outside All Souls College and) are probably also ones donated by Medley.

Catte Street kiosk
Catte Street (K6)
(List Entry No. 1047082)

Jowett Walk kiosk
Jowett Walk (K6)
(List Entry No. 1047083)

Pembroke Street kiosk
Pembroke Street (K6)
(List Entry No. 1047084)

Carfax kiosk
Carfax (K2)
(List Entry No. 1393364)

Market Street
Market Street (K6)
(List Entry No. 1443614)

All Souls
Outside All Souls College (K6)
List Entry No. 1465810

The listed telephone kiosk in Jowett Street (second kiosk shown above) is being relocated because of Balliol College's development taking place in the Master's Field (planning permission 16/03046/FUL and 16/03047/LBD)

The listed telephone kiosk in Pembroke Street (third kiosk shown above) no longer has a functioning telephone. It is inscribed at the top with the word NONSENSE instead of TELEPHONE, and is part of the adjacent Story Museum.

The K2 kiosk at Carfax (fourth kiosk shown above) was installed in a location where one originally stood and was bequeathed to the city in 1994 by Nicholas Medley of Butler Close, Oxford. It was listed in 2009 because “Giles Gilbert Scott's design has special interest for its artistry and functionality as well as its iconic status as a milestone of C20 industrial design”. Historic England describes the design of the K2 box thus: “Cast iron and painted red, the kiosk is neo-classical in inspiration with Soanian segmental vaulted roofs and multi-pane glazing reminiscent of a Georgian sash window, the latter with reeded strip surrounds and classical paterae. It has a perforated crown, the symbol of the GPO, set within the upper faces of the canopy and placed above a glazed panel bearing the word ‘TELEPHONE’.”

There are six other public red kiosks in central Oxford, all of the K6 design. They were donated to the city by either Nicholas Medley (see report on his donation in Oxford Mail of 21 July 1994) or BT. They were reinstalled in the following locations, but some of them have been adapted for other use:

Kiosk in Queen Street

There is only one red kiosk in the Oxford suburbs:

  • Old High Street, Headington (outside Baptist Chapel):
    Adopted by the Friends of Old Headington for notices

Three red telephone kiosks in Oxford that were under threat in 2013

In 2013 BT sought to remove many little-used red kiosks in the UK, or to replace them with modern combined phone and ATM booths.

Kiosk at All Souls

(1) Outside All Souls College


Right: The telephone box


A planning application was submitted in November 2013 to replace the box outside the Warden's House, All Souls College. with a replica that included an ATM, namely 13/02991/FUL: “Replacement of existing public telephone kiosk with combined public payphone and ATM cash machine kiosk”.

This application was withdrawn in December 2013.


Oxford Mail, 28 November 2013:
Conservation group sees red over plan to replace High Street phone box with cash machine replica

Broad Street kiosk

(2) Red kiosk in Broad Street

BT proposed (13/02595/FUL): “Replacement and upgrade of existing public telephone kiosk with kiosk combining public telephone service and ATM service”. On 29 November 2013 this application was refused by Oxford City Council on the following grounds:

The phone box is iconic and holds significant historic, architectural and cultural value. It sits in a prominent position in one of Oxford's most recognised and historic streets, within the Central Oxford Conservation Area and adjacent to many listed buildings. The loss of the phone box and its replacement with a modern interpretation would be harmful to the setting of nearby listed buildings and the wider conservation area. The proposal is therefore contrary to policies CP1, CP10, HE3 and HE7 of the Oxford Local Plan and CS18 of the Core Strategy.

Old High Street

(3) Red kiosk in Old Headington

This kiosk is mentioned in the Old Headington Conservation Area appraisal:

Traditional street furniture including the red post-box, red telephone box and black painted “Lucy and Dean” street lamps are a positive element of the village's historic character.

This photograph was taken on 13 December 2013. Local residents and city councillors persuaded BT not to remove it, and it has been adopted by the registered charity Headington Action.

Phonebox at Magdalen College

Brief early history of Oxford’s telephone system

Oxford Mail, 28 January 2018: “End of the line: Only half
of BT phone boxes in Oxfordshire used more than twice in a year

BBC Oxford News Magazine 6 Feb 2008: “Who uses phone boxes?

Ofcom document about removing a phone box

The Guardian, 26 April 2013: “BT sells off phone boxes as demand declines

BBC News Magazine, 24 April 2015:“The yard for red phone boxes that ring no more

Wikipedia: Red telephone box:
“The red phone box is often seen as an iconic British symbol throughout the world”

The Telephone Box website


BT sells the red kiosks it removes. These privately purchased telephone kiosks
can be found in unexpected places, for example in Magdalen College (left).

Stephanie Jenkins