Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Knocks and scrapes
Before we leave behind the subject of the red telephone box – admirably preserved and given a new use by the Henry Moore Foundation, as noted in the previous post – here's another red box picture from a few weeks ago. As more and more of these boxes disappear under the rising tide of mobile phones, it is more and more unusual to see the little groups of telephone boxes that used to be common in British towns and cities. One place where these boxes are preserved is at the excellent Avoncroft Museum, near Bromsgrove in Worcestershire. As well as a fine collection of rescued and relocated old buildings from the Midlands, Avoncroft is home to the National Telephone Kiosk Collection. Here are four K6 boxes, gathered together in the museum's phone box area.
It's good to see them well looked after (so many roadside boxes look rather dishevelled these days), their paintwork shining and red. When Scott designed the original K2 box, the slightly taller predecessor of these 1935 K6s, he intended them to be painted silver outside and "greeny-blue" inside, but it's hard now to imagine them any other colour than red.*
The vehicle is a Morris Minor Van of the type used by telephone engineers in the 1950s and for years afterwards. The Royal Mail used similar vans painted red, but the telephone engineers' vans were green and had black rubber front wings. According to the Morris Minor Owners' Club, Royal Mail red vans were allocated to specific drivers, who were trusted to look after "their" vehicles. The green engineers' vans were driven by many different drivers, who, it is said, were thought less likely to be careful with their transport. Hence the rubber wings, which were proof against at least some knocks and scrapes.
I'm pleased that at least a few red telephone boxes, and this van, are being protected from knocks and scrapes by the good people at Avoncroft.
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* Unless you come from Hull in Yorskshire, where the telephone boxes were installed by the local council and painted cream.