Patented in 1876, the telephone revolutionised personal communications allowing the human voice to travel over distance. Attracted by this new technology, corporations developed networks of telephones that would criss-cross Britain.
The largest network was developed by the General Post Office, which introduced the famous red telephone box to the streets of Britain. At its height the GPO network totalled 92,000 public call boxes. Today, owned by British Telecom, the network totals 46,000 call boxes, of which 8,000 are red telephone boxes.
The Police Service saw how the telephone box could play its part in fighting crime and disorder, with 1000 examples installed. In 1963 the Mackenzie Trench Police Box first appeared as the TARDIS in the BBC science-fiction series Doctor Who.
Britain's pioneering motoring organisations, the rival Royal Automobile Club and Automobile Assocation, recognised the value of the telephone to its customers. A total of 1,300 sentry boxes allowed patrolmen to keep in touch and members to summon assistance.
Although advanced technologies mean these kiosks and boxes are largely redundant, many examples still survive. This website tells the story of these survivors, that can be found on streets across the country, as well as other examples of street furniture.