Rare K8 Phone Boxes Listed

Nine rare K8 phone boxes in and around Hull have been listed at Grade II by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on the advice of Historic England. The K8 was designed in 1965-66 by architect Bruce Martin who was commissioned by the General Post Office, owners of the public telephone network. In contrast to the intricate glass panelling of Giles Gilbert Scott’s iconic K2 and K6 boxes, it is notable for its modern and minimalist appearance, which made it simpler to repair and maintain.

The K8 kiosk is the last generation of the classic public telephone box. They were massed-produced between 1968 and 1983, when 11,000 K8s were installed across the UK. However, only around 50 remain in their original position. This is because most were removed by British Telecom following its privatisation in 1984 to be replaced by the sleek silver KX100 kiosk, and other variants. These in their turn have been made largely obsolete by the rise of mobile phone ownership in the early 21st century.

Most of the identified surviving K8s are in and around Hull and survived because they were not the property of British Telecom. Hull is the only place in England where the local council actively ran the public telephone network, having been granted a licence to operate from 1902 to 2007. Today, the network continues to be run by an independent company, Kingston Communications.

As a signal the network’s independence, the K8 phone boxes (and the earlier K1 and K6s) in Hull are painted cream, rather than the red used elsewhere in the country.

A white K8 phone box in Hull. Image courtesy of Historic England