Red telephone kiosks in Oxford
There are thirteen public red telephone kiosks in central Oxford (although the one in Pembroke Street no longer has a functioning telephone). 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. 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 four 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 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.
Catte Street (K6)
Jowett Walk (K6)
Pembroke Street (K6)
The telephone kiosk in Pembroke Street (above, third from left) 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 (above right) 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”. English Heritage describe 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 eight other public red kiosks in central Oxford, all of the K6 design and complete with Payphones. 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:
- Broad Street (south side)
- Gloucester Green (near Walton Street)
- High Street (outside Warden’s House, All Souls College): see below
- Market Street (outside Market)
- Parks Road (outside Wadham College)
- Queen Street (near Bonn Square)
- St Giles’ Street east (outside St John’s College)
- St Giles’ Street west (outside No. 65)
There is only one red kiosk in the Oxford suburbs:
- Old High Street, Headington (outside Baptist Chapel)
Right: The kiosk in Queen Street has been adapted for modern needs:
as well as a telephone on the south side, it has an ATM on the east side
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.
(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”
(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.
(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 will be adopted by the registered charity Headington Action.
- Cllr Ruth Wilkinson:“Red phone box saved!”
- Oxford Mail, 18 December 2013:
“BT puts call box removal on hold after residents' sit-in”
BBC Oxford News Magazine 6 Feb 2008:
“Who uses phone boxes?”
The Guardian, 26 April 2013: “BT sells off phone boxes as demand declines”
BBC News Magazine, 24 Aptil 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”
BT sells the red kiosks it removes. These privately purchased telephone kiosks
can be found in unexpected places, for example in Magdalen College (left).